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I see posts and articles online asserting that Donald Trump is a fascist, (sometimes Fascist) and comparing him to Hitler. I remain unconvinced that Mr. Trump's miscellaneous crackpot pronouncements coalesce into anything approaching an ideology. I am more concerned about the public's ready resort to the Fuehrer.

This is not peculiar to Mr. Trump. Godwin's Law holds that the longer an online discussion goes on, the likelier a comparison to Hitler or Nazis will crop up. Mr. Godwin formulated that law in 1990. Today the comparison to Hitler is often the first out of the gate.

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This is, to be kind, trite and unthinking. (And the automatic comparison to Hitler tends to overlook the monstrosities for which Stalin and Mao were responsible.)

There is, moreover, a stale variant of the Hitler meme that is common in our little corner of the Internet, the "grammar Nazi" label. Stan Carey has written thoughtfully on the subject at Sentence first. I would like to supply a personal footnote.

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I understand that "grammar Nazi" is inspired by the "soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld and that it is understood to be jocular. But really, if you are not Mel Brooks, making jokes about Nazism is in questionable taste.

Moreover, some sticklers to whom the "grammar Nazi" label has been affixed have adopted it as a badge of pride. This is surely a mistake. Proclaiming oneself to be a "grammar Nazi," however light-heartedly, serves mainly to confirm the stereotype that people who take grammar seriously are humorless authoritarians quick to condemn others over trivialities.

The grammar Nazi, like the flogging schoolmaster and the knuckle-rapping nun, is a cliche ripe for retirement.

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