An Open Letter To Gerald Butts: The Word “Nazi” Is Not Appropriate

Mr. Butts,

You are the senior advisor – Principal Secretary – to the Prime Minister of Canada. Therefore, your words carry weight, and are important.

Recently, your boss interrupted a young woman to interject his own word in place of one she used. Specifically, he “corrected” her from “mankind” to (the non-existent) “peoplekind”.

The headlines were swift, as political correctness, made-up words, and interrupting a woman’s question to further an agenda were seen as rude, inappropriate, and downright nonsensical.

You decided to weigh in, on Twitter:

The lesson to take from this joke being torqued by Infowars and other alt-right nazi friends of the Rebel is they’re paying attention. Game on, #TeamTrudeau.

β€” Gerald Butts πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ (@gmbutts) February 8, 2018

I would like to weigh in on your choice of words.

The word “Nazi” is NEVER appropriate to use unless in context. And the ONLY context in which it is appropriate is in describing actual WW2 killers

You throw that word around like it’s not the most chills-inducing representative of murder, torture, cold-bloodedness, and hate. For your information: it is.
Are you even familiar with a fraction of what Nazis did? How they laughed when their victims choked to death on poisonous gas? How they threw dead bodies into mass graves without so much as a whisper of respect? How they experimented on children, or smashed newborns against brick walls to kill them? You might want to educate yourself, and you can start by finding many accounts of Nazi atrocities at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum online.
Have you ever met a Holocaust Survivor? Have you ever seen the visible shudder, the flicker of fear in eyes that have witnessed the most horrific brutality of loved ones, the physical tension that is present whenever the word “Nazi” is spoken?
Because I have. I have listened to them tell their history.  I have heard them speak the word.
Some speak it in a hushed whisper, as though invoking it would somehow result in a ghostly reappearance of their tormentors. I have heard them spit the word with such anger that if said ghost were to appear, it would be decimated by the emotions expressed by the survivor sitting before me. 
I have listened to the stories of incredible cruelty, perpetrated for no other reason but that the victims were Jewish. I have cried with those who are, more often than not, the only survivors of their families, as they’ve told about barbarity inflicted upon minds and bodies, to break, and terrorize, and humiliate, and eliminate an entire group of people based only on religion. 
And each of those crimes against humanity was carried out by Nazis. Men and women whose souls were blackened by prejudice and whose obedience to a dark-hearted man was so complete, they took lives without flinching. 
Nazis were the most savage, heartless, despicable killers in history, directly responsible for the murders of 6,000,000 Jews (1,500,000 of whom were children), and 5,000,000 others who dissented against the Nazi movement or stood up for their countrymen. 
We do not use the word lightly. We do not condone those who do. We know, only too well, the horrors the Nazis perpetrated, each one more inhumane, more fiendish, more sickening than the last. 
So imagine how visceral our reaction is to your offhand, callous, cavalier usage of the word when used to describe people who criticize your boss. 
I’m not sure you can imagine it, Mr. Butts. Because if you had even an inkling of what the Nazis had done, you might – might – have thought twice. 
We demand an apology from you, and a retraction of your thoughtless statement. The Jewish community, and especially survivors and their families, deserve nothing less than a full and sincere indication of remorse for your inconsiderate blunder. 
Criticism of political figures is a Canadian right. No Canadian should be taken to task for expressing his or her rightful opinion, whether or not you agree with it.
And nobody deserves to be compared to a regime that comprised history’s most monstrous killers. 
Now is your opportunity to put things right. The question is, will you take it? Or will you squander it and keep in place what will, one day, be your legacy?
Govern yourself accordingly.

Lissa Albert

One of the most famous photos taken during the Holocaust shows Jewish families arrested by Nazis during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, and sent to be gassed at Treblinka extermination camp.

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