Nazi, idiot, what?

In perhaps the worst blunder of President Fogel’s career at UVM, he brought disgrace upon himself and the entire University by using hateful rhetoric to describe the livable wage issue. At the SGA meeting last Tuesday, Fogel announced that he believed, “nobody but an idiot or Nazi would say they want to work for wages which aren’t livable.” A more untactful statement could not have been imagined. That is, until Fogel retracted his statement, saying, “you would be a Nazi or idiot to say that you wanted employees to work for less than livable wages.” Fogel is the executive leader of UVM. Saying that one is an “idiot” or “Nazi” if one does not want to pay one’s employees livable wages has placed Fogel into a predicament, for he, as the executive leader of the University, has not enacted a livable wage. There are currently 256 workers at UVM who do not earn a livable wage. If it is the low paying employer who is the “idiot” and “Nazi,” then why does Fogel employ workers below a livable wage? By the merit of his second statement, Fogel has identified himself and the rest of UVM’s leadership as “Nazis” and “idiots.” Why would a Jewish president of a socially aware university such as UVM say such an inflammatory thing about himself, the administration and the board of trustees? After all, it is the administration and the board that work to determine the wages that UVM pays. For more than one year, the administration has been stemming student, faculty and staff protests that were staged to demand livable wages, and yet, the president of the University admits that unlivable wages transform employers into sub-par (“idiot”) and evil (“Nazi”) human beings. Aside from being extremely offensive, the first statement made by Fogel, that only “idiots” and “Nazis” would want to work for less then a livable wage, illuminates his belief that unlivable wages are indeed wrong and dehumanizing. Perhaps this Freudian slip will expedite a livable wage resolution. After all, Fogel has now come down firmly against the previous stance that he and the board of trustees have taken – not bending on livable wages. The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines Idiot as, “a feebleminded person having a mental age not exceeding three years and requiring complete custodial care.” If Fogel’s second statement is to be taken as his true opinion, then it is he and the members of the board of trustees who are the incompetent Man/woman-children, in need of full custodial assistance in everything that they do. In any case, with all of Fogel’s intentions aside, the use of the word “idiot” to describe the livable wage struggle has made him seem an insensitive leader. Although the word “idiot” is offensive, Fogel’s use of the word “Nazi” is utterly baffling. “Nazi” is a word that has become synonymous with pure evil, genocide, murder, war, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, sexism, deranged occult society and fascist authoritarianism. Although Fogel was wrong to use hateful rhetoric in depicting some employees as “idiots” and “Nazis,” his retracted statement is far worse, for it paints the administration as incompetent bigots for not implementing a livable wage. The literal meaning of the words that Fogel used to describe the employers and some employees of UVM are absolutely abhorrent. “Idiot” and “Nazi” have offensive and hateful denotations. Why would such a well-spoken and educated man say something so derogatory of other people? Why would that man then change the statement so that it directs the same hateful rhetoric at himself and the leadership of UVM? Fogel must publicly, openly, and visibly apologize for what he has said.