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Do we use the word “Nazi” too lightly?

Let me paint a picture for you: the year is 2016. As Americans, we’ve just finished eight years with one of our most dedicated, humble and historically significant presidents ever, Barack Obama. This was a major achievement for the United States, whose past is far from clean. By no means did this undo our tarnished past, nor did it heal the visceral, raw wounds of hatred, however, his election was a catalyst for a reenergized generation, forever altering our perception of the way in which we can effect change upon the world. Yet another major milestone in American politics was upon us; the would-be election of our first female president, Hillary Clinton, who was without a doubt the most qualified candidate of the entire election cycle. Everyone was so assured of her victory that Trump’s bid almost seemed like a joke, a prank to increase his reality TV ratings, however, it was all too real. Forward to today, our commander in chief is a man who openly hates all who oppose him, shows prejudice toward those who don’t share his skin color and openly bragged about shooting something on 5th Avenue without losing voters (no seriously, he said that).

We’re two years into a four-year prison sentence. With each waking day, the headlines get worse and the feeling of shame becomes more intense with every 240 character tweet. One of America’s largest modern follies is still in control of the country. The United States is at it’s most polarized point possibly since the Civil War. Protests that turn bloody are the new norm, with large acts of violence becoming more frequent. All the while, we’re losing the ability to see political opposition as our fellow citizens, rather than belligerents in some Orwellian dystopia. Frustrations rise, tempers flare and next thing you know your political opponents are without a doubt dubbed Nazis.

Don’t get me wrong, I, like most who share my opinions of the current administration,  disagree with just about everything our current president says, does and implies. That being said, I strongly disagree with labeling them as Nazis. Perhaps we’ve overstepped our own linguistic boundaries. Let’s dig in a bit deeper.

Nazi was a colloquial nickname for someone within the ranks of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP). As history shows, some of the most vile, immoral, revolting and shocking people were Nazis; people who were so blinded by power, charisma and racism that they committed atrocities unparalleled in the modern world. So shouldn’t we save this term for truly the worst among us? While I believe Trump and his cronies are some of the most truly repulsive, disagreeable, and sleazy humans around, I don’t believe they ideologically, nor through their actions have come close to rivaling true Nazis. We can’t allow our own differences to divide us so deeply that those who have differing opinions are suddenly compared to some of the most vile men in history. At the end of the day be engaged politically and let your voice be heard, but don’t downplay the suffering and death of millions by failing to see your fellow citizens’ intrinsic worth and dignity as humans because of their differing opinions.

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