Photo Credit: Jintak Han/Daily Bruin
A couple of days ago, I was called a Nazi. A seemingly lovely young girl got angry about the current political situation in our country and my support for our current president, Donald Trump. In her rant against Trump, she referred to his supporters as white supremacist Neo-Nazis. I rarely find myself feeling offended, but I was disgusted and enraged by her statement.
I am a Jew and the grandson of Jews who were forced out of their homes by the German army in Egypt. My family was saved only by the grace of God, and General Bernard Montgomery. I am also the descendent of Hungarian and Ukrainian Jews who were not so lucky and did not leave their homes in times of anti-Semitism. Their ashes are now scattered amongst the forests of Poland.
The student in question’s attacks towards the president were distasteful, but I could respect them. After all, the president is a public figure and everyone has the right to say what they please. However, to refer to every Trump supporter as a Neo-Nazi is inherently offensive to those who suffered or had family that suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime. This student, ironically, used a textbook tool of fascism: dehumanizing the enemy. By making these accusations she was implicitly saying “political discourse be damned.” She ended any discussion before it even began.
Her method of arguing, goes against the “liberalism” she claimed she wanted to defend — the very same liberalism that protected free speech, yet has failed to do so. Her education at UCLA, rather than opening her mind has made her close-minded. She has come to believe that beliefs which fail to conform to her values are evil, twisted and wrong. This mentality is being bred on college campuses nationwide. At universities like UC Berkeley, conservative speakers are often turned away with threats, protests and even outright violence. Moreover, those conservatives invited to speak sometimes get their invitations revoked because of student organizations’ or schools’ fears of violence. This fear needs to come to an end.
I believe that fascist students have taken over college campuses under the guise of liberalism and have used their positions in campus administrations and academia to further their objectives. Conservatives, independents and others with different ideas, will soon no longer have a place on these campuses.
It was because of this understanding that I was ultimately able to forgive the girl. However, I cannot forgive those responsible for starting the trend of calling conservatives and Trump supporters Nazis, Neo-Nazis or white supremacists. Referring to us as such generalizes and lumps together Americans of diverse racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds that support Trump. It dehumanizes a large percent of the American population, widens the gap between the left and right and degrades the political discourse in the country to mere shouting. Yet, this kind of name-calling has not only become more common; it has even become socially and politically acceptable.
I must also argue that the popularization of throwing around the word Nazi is unacceptable. Hitler killed 6 millions Jews as well as 5 million others, including gypsies, handicapped people, homosexuals and political dissenters, and he started a war that killed 60 million worldwide. He advocated for hate and genocide against his neighbors. He is not comparable to Trump. Trump has not called for violence against his enemies, which is more than what we can say about both Black Lives Matter and the Antifa Movement. Trump has never used racism or hatred to to further his own power.
Trump is not Hitler. His supporters are not Nazis. Any claims otherwise, without actual proof, serves to both delegitimize the experiences of survivors of Hitler’s murderous regime and discredit Trump’s presidency. To make this sort of accusation against someone is to attack and outright slander him for the purpose of solidifying one’s own agenda. It is disgusting, morally wrong and a symptom of one’s own fascist ideas. If you want to protect free speech and fight fascism, stop throwing the word around as if it is nothing. Be a real liberal and fight for free discourse.