1. says

    While it’s not extreme, Republicans for decades have been calling every centrist or right-leaning Democrat a “socialist”, so the word started to lose any meaning. The good news is that made it easier for socialism to finally start making headway in the US.

  2. Ichthyic says

    it would be a better argument, if not for the fact that for literally DECADES, conservatives have made a regular habit of hyperbolizing and even changing the meaning of words to foment authoritarian support.

    all I have to do is say the word “liberal”, and the entire history of this is more than proof.

    calling a right winger a Nazi these days, is simply based on observation of history. I’d love to call them authoritarians, for that is what they are, but by and large most people don’t even know what “right wing authoritarian personality” even means.

    calling them Nazis is both predictive, and descriptive. it is NOT a twist of the meaning, unlike the modern history of the word “liberal”.

  3. Holms says

    Unless they are openly pushing for a fascist ethnostate, nazi is assuredly not the correct thing to call them. It is not descriptive, and it is only sometimes predictive.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 Ichthyic
    Well if “right wing authoritarian personality” does not work, have you considered “crazed, rabid, right-winger”. I think it has a nice feel to it.

  5. Curious Digressions says

    For this to be an issue, you first have to agree that words have meaning and that the truth is valuable. The current crop of conservatives lie like they breathe. They might as well be voiced by Charlie Brown’s teacher (“Wah wah wah wah”) for all that they’re actually sharing information or conveying meaning.

    Q: How do you know someone in the current White House is lying?
    A: Their mouth is moving.

    Although it’s not limited to the current administration. This sort of inflated rhetoric goes back to Gingrich, at the least. The current state is just the logical conclusion.

    Are “we” obligated to be better than “them”? I suppose if we want to be better than shit-sack money worshipers and homicidal bigots, we do.* It puts us at a disadvantage though.

    We do need to be careful with this argument and still be willing to call a nazi an nazi and a racist a racist, even if it hurts their feelings.

    *I may be a bit bitter.

  6. says


    I think 70 years on the term Nazi is conflated with similar terms.
    White supremacists are similar but not identical.
    The United States was pretty much a white supremacist society when it fought the Nazis.
    The US Army tried to enforce segregation in England.

  7. lorn says

    He isn’t wrong.

    But, IMHO, a whole lot of the polarization seen has its origins in habits and realities of speech and, to some extent, the habituation of these sequences in the minds of users and listeners. Yes, as cited, the people are not in reality the with-us-or-against-us, A or B monolithic caricatures implied by the labels used. But then again the news is produced in thirty second and one minute segments that don’t allow for an in-depth and nuanced introduction to even begin to correctly frame the issues at hand. The media speaks in shorthand that only allows the slightest of nods to nuance and the multifaceted nature of real people. It is real and obvious that there might be people who support one policy without having any loyalty to the other policies that get rafted together simply because the speaks need to complete their thought in ten seconds or less.

    Of course it isn’t just a manner of speech. Speech influences thought simply because we, as individuals, are prone to thinking in rough approximations and shorthand. We then get caught out when the word nazi, poorly and loosely defined, gets used as shorthand for more generalized xenophobia, narrowness, and a grudging (but all too often self-serving) willingness to bend the knee to wealth and power.

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