Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Etymology of 'Nazi'

During a recent yet extended convalescence in my musty sanatorium supraspinatum, post chrurgia, in the prolonged traction of my UltraSling™II, my thoughts turned naturally to the black, and to those naturally redheaded, and the whispers coming from the dark bowels of this blackness. During that time, a time requisite of time while-awaying, hours were spent floundering through my favorite tomes: Bodyguard of Lies, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the books relating a time better than our own, a time of clarity, of good v. evil, of men that were men. I fantasize about being a man that is a man but I am so far from it: an effete milquetoast-ette, a mama's boy and a milksop.

But in this morning's epost a letter arrived from our foreign correspondent, a man who is a man, our dear ***redacted***, who was passing along some esludge from the net. May I quote a significant part of it?
Long before the rise of the NSDAP in the 1920s, people in at least southern Germany could be called Nazi if they were named Ignatz, or came from Austria or Bohemia (where they apparently had lots of Ignatzes); it was supposedly also used as a generic name for soldiers of Austria-Hungary, like the German Fritz or Russian Ivan. It had to be used with caution between friends, though, since it could also mean "idiot" or "clumsy oaf". That's how it found it's way into politics; the fact that Adolf came from Austria (not Bohemia, though) could have made the pun even better. The Nazis supposedly made attempts to include the N-word in their own vocabulary in order to make it less derogatory, but unsuccessfully; since such a maneuver requires a sense of humor as well as irony, it was probably doomed to fail.
Yes, this maneuver does require a sense of humor, but fortunately we have buckets of that here in San Francisco and thank G-d that all my friends, members of so many persecuted minority groups, have reclaimed all the names hurled at them and taken them to heart, formerly sensitive designations desensitized and reavailable for use by all.
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