Comedian Kathy Griffin recently posted an interview on her YouTube channel that appeared on the BBC show “HARDtalk” and used the opportunity to call President Donald Trump an “actual Nazi.” Griffin states on the show, “I think our president is a Nazi. I think that people should be very frightened. I think there is an actual Nazi — or at least someone with Nazi leanings — in the White House.”
I’ve written about Kathy Griffin’s over-the-top calls for attention before and while she can say anything she wants here in America, it should give us all pause that Ms. Griffin chooses to use her first amendment rights to whittle away at what’s left of the devout seriousness of the term “Nazi.”
What has happened in the greater celebrity quest for clicks and media attention is that the word “Nazi” has become commoditized and its use is now ubiquitous. It is used all too often and in a myriad of inappropriate contexts. This overuse thereby takes meaning away from the word and the horrors that come with actual Nazism. Sadly, the places of death listed on my own family tree are rife with the terms “Slonim Ghetto,” “Warsaw Ghetto,” and “Auschwitz.”
I hope those names never suffer the same commoditized fate.
While calling people “Nazis” has long been a way of dehumanizing individuals in both public and private discourse (which most certainly accelerated in the past two years), Kathy Griffin’s specified use of the term to further dehumanize the President as a means to remain in the limelight and entertainment industry that has shunned her for her past transgressions is an affront to both those who perished in the Holocaust and those brave individuals who risked and gave their lives to stop the Nazi scourge. In this respect, Ms. Griffin attempts to paint herself a hero and freedom fighter while battling a sad personal vendetta against Donald Trump (Griffin claims she “is more of a patriot than any of those Nazi Trumps on a good day”) when the reality is that this comedian is no hero and likening her absurd narrative to that of actual soldiers who battled in the second world war is beyond delusional.
In this age of Holocaust denial and the rewriting of history, it is ever more important that the realities of global events be preserved. Additionally, the repeated use of the phrase “is an actual Nazi” seems to have transcended sarcasm and instead, has become part of the actual narrative to derail Donald Trump. While I’m certainly not impressed by Mr. Trump myself or his policies, the use of the “actual Nazi” pronouncement in describing the current executive branch of the government and Mr. Trump’s family demonstrates our society’s severe disengagement with critical thinking. This continued inability to think critically is something that is not going to serve American society well.
If Kathy Griffin is really concerned about “actual Nazism” in the United States it might behoove her to engage with the myriad of recognized nonprofit organizations that help preserve and document the reality of the Holocaust and combat the blight of Holocaust denialism.
Jeffrey S. Podoshen teaches Propaganda and Genocide at Franklin and Marshall College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.