I was scrolling through my social media feed today and saw this little nugget: “If you writing about Nazis… Stop.”
There was more, but what it amounted to is the individual speaking (and the majority of their followers) seemed to think it was completely wrong to write about Nazis, either in fiction or non-fiction. They seemed to believe that writing about them was giving them undue credit and inspiring interest in them, thus preparing the world for a Second Coming of Hitler. It didn’t matter if the Nazis you were writing about were good guys, bad guys, reluctant members of either side, fantastical allegories or bad sterotypes being used for humor or effect. If you were writing about anybody who goose-stepped, wore a swastika, “heil”ed or was a part of German politics or the military between 1935 and 1950, you should immediately flush those nasty words down a toilet and never think of them again. (Not mentioned were neo-Nazis or former Nazis after the war and the trials, but I suspect I’m safe in assuming that their exclusion does not mean they’re okay for writing about.)
I found this amusing. Partly because one of my drawer stories actually does have Nazis in it, and partly because, gosh, who else was big on telling folks what they could and couldn’t write, and who’s name is often used as a sarcastic term for anyone who decides to start dictating rules to others?
But I also found myself questioning the concept. Are Nazis really verboten? Should they be? Are there other topics that just should not be written about, for any reason? If so, why? Who makes these rules? Who enforces them? What’s the penalty?
For this specific instance, it also made me think of the old adage about forgetting and repeating history; they seemed to want to bury the idea of Nazis and what they did, sweep it under the rug for fear of triggering someone or inadvertently sparking Nazi worship. And I find myself asking “Uh… Are you sure that’s really the best idea? Especially given the current political climate in the US?”
Anyway. Just thinking out loud, I suppose. I don’t think my story about Hitler’s body double is going in the toilet any time soon (though I don’t know that it’s going in the “Currently In Progress” folder of Pages anytime soon, either), but sometimes I worry about who I’m offending, who would want to burn my books if given a chance, and tend to stress too much (and then want to do it anyway) when people say “You should never do X!”
What’s your take, oh great blogosphere? Should we cast aside the Nazis, never to be seen again? Are there other topics, settings or characters who need to take a hike to the Recycling Bin in the sky? Let us know down below!
Just a friendly reminder (and you won’t be missing anything vital about Nazis or writing if you skip this part, I promise), I do have a GoFundMe set up. So if you’d like to contribute to help get things back on track around here and thus provide more time for me to ask dumb questions like those up above, or want to see that Hitler body double story on Amazon or something, you can always help support or share my campaign. If you’ve already done so, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.