Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shoes-Off Nazi

Some of the veteran readers of this blog may recall that a while ago, I quoted an American who described me as a freedom-hating shoes-off Nazi.

I have seen quite a lot of people on the internet using the term 'Shoes-off Nazi'. Usually, it is by people who object to being asked to remove their shoes. However, a few people have used it in a tongue in cheek way to describe themselves. It is good not to take oneself too seriously.

It is funny how so many different groups of people get compared with Nazis or Fascists- conservatives, vegetarians, Europhiles, Muslims, fundamentalist Christians, advicates of 'political correctness', feminists, environmentalists, animal rights advocates. And people who prefer shoes-off in their homes. Basically, anybody you disagree with and you suspect wants to curtail your liberty.

It is true that many countries in which removing shoes is expected, such as Japan, Sweden and Russia are in differing ways more authoritarian and less individualistic than Britain and the United States. But easygoing Canadians also take their shoes off.

I can see the funny side of comparing people with a shoes-off rule with the Nazis, but I do not think it is really appropriate. Think about the terrible things which the Nazis did for a moment and it should be obvious why.

The person who called me a shoes-off Nazi may have gathered that I am a Christian. But supposing my parents or granparens were Jewish? Would I not be terribly offended?

If you are going to throw around the term Shoes-off Nazi, you really need to consider the fact that the person might be Jewish or a Jewish person might read it. They might just find your flippancy a little offensive. British readers will recall Ken Livingstone, mayor of London and his stupid comments.

8 comments:

Bob said...

Matthew, a large part of the problems that we have in this world is that everyone looks for the negative side of any comment. Yes, a Jewish person could be upset by the term Nazi used in the wrong context, but as used in "shoe Nazi" there is no intention to, in any way, give praise to the actions of the Nazi's.
If people stopped to think about the context the word rather that becoming inflamed by a comment not ment to inflame, this world would be a nicer place to live

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

You seem to be talking about somebody humorously calling themself a Shoes-off Nazi. I do not think that is so bad.

However, I think calling somebody else a Shoes-Off Nazi is very different.

If you call somebody a Nazi, you are comparing them to people who perpetrated some of the most wicked atrocities in history.

I think a Jewish person has every right to be offended by such a comment regardless of the intention behind it.

If you a person is Jewish, the Holocaust is an important part of their personal history and cultural identity. Nobody should trivialize that. To do so would be like my joking about a person who murdered one of your relatives.

I think it is important that we show sensitivity to different cultures and not say things that may cause offence.

God Bless

Matthew

Bob said...

Matthew, the point I am attempting to make is not relevant to only Jews, the same point could be made regarding any other group.Too many people today are looking for the slightest bit of controversy to get up set about. In the US there are always jokes/references to Italians being part of the Mafia, but no one gets up-set because of the intention behind it is not malious

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

There are some things that people have a right to be upset about and we should respect that.

Some people may not understand why I feel so stronly about people taking their shoes off when they visit my home, but they should respect that regardless.

It may be hard for us to understand why a Jew would get upset about jokes about the Nazis, but we should respect that this is a part of where he is at.

Intention does not excuse offence.

My grandfather used to say that people were 'Jewish' if they were mean with money. I am sure he bore no malice towards Jews, but it would surely have been offensive if a Jewish person heard him.

God Bless

Matthew

Bob said...

then by your reconing Italians should be up in arms about references to the Mafia

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Actually, I don't.

What we find offensive is very personal to us.

I do not like hearing my colleagues at work using bad language, but to them the words they use are perfectly acceptable.

I am very glad that most Italians can see the funny side of those jokes.

However, I hope that if you had Italian friends who WERE offended by those jokes, you would refrain from making them.

God Bless

Matthew

Bob said...

Matthew I would refrain from such jokes...and that is the point I was attempting to make....there mere mention of a word should not be offensive in and of itself but rather the context in which it is used should be considered.
If I ever get to London or you get to the states, I would hope that we could arrange to meet as I think it would be an enjoyable exchange of ideas

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Bob, I would love to meet you. Though there already is a queue of American bloggers who want to meet me if I ever do visit Yankland.

I hope you do get the chance to visit the UK some day.

I think my original point is that the shoes-off rule is completely the wrong context for throwing about the word 'Nazi'. It is triviazing it and is potentially offensive to some Jews who do have genuine objections to throwing the word about.

God Bless

Matthew