In my first post here at Lost Laowai, I wrote about a student of mine who calls herself Nazi. She is, in most ways, a pleasant girl who studies hard and takes responsibility for her class. Despite bureaucratic tendencies, she hardly seems totalitarian.

But a lot of friends, both online and off, told me I couldn’t let the year pass without telling her to change her name, and they’re right. So, with the semester ending next week, I decided it was time to have that little talk:

Me: I think you should change your English name.

Nazi: But my Chinese name is ….娜 (that’s all I’ll include here)

Me: You know what the word means?

Nazi: (saying it in Chinese): It was Hitler’s party.

Me: What do you think of Hitler?

Nazi: I think he was a very cruel person, but also a person of great ability.

Me: He killed 11 million people.

Nazi: Yes, a lot of…Youtairen.

Me: Six million Jews. Five million others, disabled people, gays, intellectuals.

Nazi: What do you think of Hitler?

Me: Pretty much the worst person in history.

And then she changed the subject to KTV. Killing Jews to KTV without a moment’s pause. “I like to sing,” she said.

“Do you sing about killing Jews?” I was asking in my head. I didn’t say it though. That was about the end of our conversation, actually.

Maybe Hitler gets off easy here because, well, what’s another murderous despot when you live under a dynasty founded by Mao, with Pol Pot just down the continent, the Rape of Nanking shoved in your face all throughout school and Stalin as an early model of good governance. Who knows.

I don’t expect to see “Nancy” or “Natasha” or “the Class Monitor Formerly Known as Nazi” on my role next week, but we’ll see.


  1. If she comes back, just let her know that you support her decision to keep the name, and have (in a similar vein) decided to change your Chinese name to: “中将 中岛 今朝吾“.

  2. When students have rude and insensitive names like this, I’d simply give them a name of my choice and start calling them that, without their permission. If they got annoyed, tell them to change their name or else you’ll just keep calling them the appropriate one.

  3. the last thing china needs is ignorant brainwashed laowais coming here and “teaching the chinese the good manners”.

    nazi == nazional socialismus

    while the party was the NSDAP.
    “na-zi” was just the abbreviation.

    i don’t know in america but in europe and russia there’s plenty of nationalist parties, some of them neo-nazi from top to bottom, some covered up like the NPD in germany, others influenced by italian/spanish/greek fascism, others merely “third position”.

    so in case you don’t know and you clearly don’t,
    national socialism is still quite popular in the european right-wing, as Stalin, Mao, Trotsky, Lenin, and PolPot are praised in the extreme right-wing as well, see the French Trotskyist party for instance.

    it’s because of these articles i feel more and more incompatible with americans.

    while they bomb nations all around the world since 60 yrs and while Iraq is on fire since 4 years all they care is ranting on hitler or fascism or communism.

    YANKS are the most hated people in the world, not the nazi, don’t forget.

  4. @Rough BJ: You are one confused individual – and it’s no wonder you feel incompatible, your wiring is all mixed up. National socialism can be the ideology-du-jour for what it’s worth – but that doesn’t change the connotation of the term “Nazi” which is a brain-washed, racist, Jew-killing machine.

    Nor does it change its inappropriatenesses as a name, or the fact that as teachers of English, we have the responsibility to make sure said choosers of such names are educated on the effect it may have when said to other English speakers.

    Thank you for wowing us all with your amazing Wikipediability. Now go Google “get a fucking clue”.

    I’ve met a truck-load more Americans bitching about the state of their government and the situation in Iraq than I have heard complaining about some fuck-head dictator that shot himself more than 60 years ago.

    So… what the hell is your point? I mean, other than filling space with unrelated facts and ignorant opinions.

  5. it’s ironic you’ve so strong views on nationalism and yet you live and work in a post-communist country like China, something you would clearly label a “run by fuck-head dictators” i guess.

    do you think chinese are less racist than a nazi ? or the japanese ? and what’s all this obsession with racism ? as far as i see the main issue is about spiritual and cultural racism and xenophobia which is a very different thing from racial racism.

    it tends more to Evola than to Von Shonerer
    if you know what i mean.

    americans pretending to teach everybody else what’s good or bad, even which words are ok and which ones are forbidden, no more no less than the “psycocrimes” narrated by Orwell in his prophetic book “1984”.

    get a life.

    if the word “nazi” in china is ok then accept it and live with it.
    if they don’t care about jews it’s all their business.. and i’ve some news for you, their’re also rabidly racist towards japanese and many other countries.

    are YOU paid to teach them politics ?
    all i can say is that you still live here thinking to be in the West and failing to realize china is a different place, first of all with different values and different world-view.

    as tbe name of this blog says, you’re a “LOST laowai”.

    so what’s my point ? that you’re not cut to live in china and adapt to foreign countries.
    and judjing from your arrogance you’re clearly not elastic enough to realize it.

    good riddance.

  6. Rough BJ:
    I’m not sure if you’re shouting at me or Ryan here, but let me offer an answer.

    Nazi is a perfectly fine name to have. I wouldn’t force her to change it if even if it were part of my job description, and you’re right, it’s not. My job is to teach language and culture, not politics. And further, my underlying belief in free speech would contradict any notion of saying she can’t have that name.

    But I suggested she change it because every English speaker she ever meets is likely to have the same reaction. Every time. She decided to keep the name, and that’s her right. It’s now her responsibility to deal with whatever reactions she gets.

    Being creeped out by Hitler, the Nazis and all their associated inhumanity isn’t a critique on Chinese nationalism, as you seem to want to read here. If there’s something you’d like to enlighten us with that makes Hitler seem more warm and fuzzy, by all means tell us.

    Had she named herself Idi Amin or Pol Pot, I’d have had the same reaction, and I suspect others would, too. On the other end of it, naming yourself Christ, for example, or maybe some poorly performed sexual favor, would be just as irksome. It just makes it very hard to take you seriously.

  7. yeah telling her the name she picked up could be problematic to handle while dealing with laowais is OK, but i was referring at the whole article which pretty much summed up the usual equation nazi==absolute evil.

    how come the good boys are instead the ones “freeing” hiroshima and nagasaki with H-Bombs ?

    or burning alive 200.000 civilians in Dresden with phosporous weapons ?

    because THOSE are the guys you stand for, the ones you admire, love, and blatantly call “liberators”.

    it’s 60 yrs they’re trying to liberate the world, from vietnam to panama to cuba to now Iraq and Afghanistan.

    poor us, we should thank them, you say !
    and blame the germans for anything else ?

    there’s no point in discussing this topic here since it’s too large and complex but before shitting on the germans go back to school, thanks.

    as for the “jew-killing” bullshit, well i’ve been in lebanon and in israel and i highly recommend you to go there for a while to really see what those “poor jews” (the victims, in your words) are really about.

    there shouldn’t be even the need to discuss these things in 2007 but if still there’s all this talk about nazism and fascism it’s obvious someone is still scared of the truth, and jailing historians live Irving for daring to touch the sacred dogma isn’t helping their cover ups.

    yanks killed as much as nazis and fascists so far, yanks have the many guantanamos and abu graib all over their colonies, yanks laugh about UN resolutions and geneva declarations on human rights, sponsoring “color revolutions”, and here i stop since the list is too long.

    you’ve NO right whatsover to play the “good guys”, not even in your dreams.

  8. I do not call my students by English names. And I strongly encourage them, if they must have an English monicker, to divest themselves of names that might cost them a job with a multi-national company or credibility in a business deal. It is not about manners, it is about common sense.
    How did this get to be an analysis of Slaughterhouse Five?
    Me? I am changing my name to Tojo.

  9. @BJ: Honestly… WTF are you on about? Are you really trying to minimize the Nazi party’s WWII atrocities by vilifying another nationality?

    I encourage open discussion, and by principle don’t moderate comments on this site – but I fucking hate when people hijack posts for their own agendas.

    Make all the historical references you want man, it just muddies your waters and illustrates that you’re trying desperately to be taken seriously on an issue that A) has nothing to fucking do with what this post is about, nor what anyone but yourself has said; and B) you really seem to know very little about.

    No one is telling the Chinese how to live. No one is telling them which words are good and which are bad in their language. The ENTIRE point of this post is that a student of ENGLISH in an ENGLISH classroom was told by her ENGLISH teacher that in ENGLISH “Nazi” has an extremely negative connotation – and with good reason (despite what you seem hellbent on disproving).

    as for the “jew-killing” bullshit, well i’ve been in lebanon and in israel and i highly recommend you to go there for a while to really see what those “poor jews” (the victims, in your words) are really about.

    Maybe you’d be kind enough to share your nationality, so we can choose the actions of a few to justify the genocide of your race.

    No one is saying Jews are victims in the modern world. No one is saying any of the shit you seem to infer from this post.

  10. “yeah telling her the name she picked up could be problematic to handle while dealing with laowais is OK, but i was referring at the whole article which pretty much summed up the usual equation nazi==absolute evil.

    how come the good boys are instead the ones “freeing” hiroshima and nagasaki with H-Bombs ?”

    This is what you call a strawman.

    No amount of American fuckups (and there are many) detracts from the initial assertion that “Nazi” has a negative connotation.

  11. I strongly suspect “rough BJ” is a wind up merchant who couldn’t care less about atrocities of any sort. He just wants to get a rise out of people…best to ignore the little jerk, and others sad sacks like him in the future too.

  12. i don’t see anything special or dirt into taking into consideration the “volkisch” ideas, which are 99% of what nazism is all about and it’s stuff from ‘1800.

    i just wanted to have a peaceful discussion, since i can hardly do it with my retarded yank friends and colleagues due to their dogmatic education that “democracy==panacea”.

    nazi an insult ?
    of course, but it’s a field bigger than you may think.
    it’s roots are the infamous RateRepublik in Munchen, how many of you know about it for instance ?
    there were good reasons if more than 40 nationalist parties popped up in these days.
    trashing all that as a consequence of bigotism is easy and socially accepted but in the real world things are not so easy.

    so “nazi” a forbidden word ?
    fine for me, but tomorrow they’ll invent new words for the same stuff.

    trolls : not a troll for sure, just a beijingren that unlike you see reality from a broader perspective.

  13. Why are you insistent in lumping all foreigners together as “Yanks”… did you pick up a copy of Crazy English and jot that one down or something?

    There’s absolutely nothing peaceful about your “discussion”. You’re a pretentious and patronizing ass that thinks by spewing crap that any 6-year-old can get off Wikipedia makes you intelligent enough to speak (rather, type).

    Your perspective is inversely proportional to your ego.

  14. In any international activity “Nazi” certainly is not an appropriete name for a person, a company, a product or a reference. Rough BJ’s comments show a lack of knowledge and understanding for recent world history. Nazism is seen as evil for the inhumanity it led to. There were fresh and blood victims, in the millions, of Nazism. It is not a name invented to denigrate a person, a people or a nation. If nazism is allowed to exist unchecked none Aryan people such as the Chinese would be treated as second class worthy only of lowly work. If the girl who named herself Nazi does not want to consider how other people can misundestand her then she is lost. Let’s not worry about the minority who do not want to listen and do not want to learn. They will find out sooner or later and pay a stiff price for being so insolent.

  15. Perhaps translated into Chinese it is okay, but in English it is not. And as far as I can tell most people in China would agree:

    I’ve been living and working in Beijing, China for 6 years. Absolutely guaranteed, every adult person who can speak English that I’ve ever met in China would agree that ‘Nazi’ is an inappropriate English name.

    I’d probably just use her Chinese name – she’ll eventually get older, and with maturity she’ll pick a more appropriate name by herself.

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