Derek Dooley did not say the word “Nazi,” nor did he allude to “Nazis” or the Holocaust. A Nazi was a member of the National Socialist Party. He spoke of the German soldiers during the D-Day invasion. Not all German soldiers in the Wehrmacht Heer were Nazis. The Nazi party did have an armed division, the Waffen-SS. Dooley, clearly, did not reference it.
Erwin Rommel, the German commander Dooley named, committed no war crimes. He ignored orders and treated prisoners, Jewish or otherwise, humanely. He was forced to commit suicide when it was discovered he had conspired to overthrow Hitler, whom he wanted arrested and tried for his crimes.
No matter how you massage or convolute his comments. Dooley made no reference to Hitler or the Holocaust in relation to football. He made an apolitical war reference, to D-Day. He contrasted the ingenuity of American troops with German troops awaiting instruction. What was his “faux pas?” Praising Americans for their actions during what was unequivocally our finest hour?
The anecdote was circuitous and cumbersome. Dooley is no Winston Churchill, but, ultimately, he made his point. It’s not enough that his Tennessee players execute the system. They need to be comfortable enough to react spontaneously to stimuli, which will take time.
Dooley did not say “Nazi.” He did not directly allude to “Nazis.” He inadvertently inspired a mental leap, logical only to the ill-informed. Even if Dooley had used the term “Nazi,” employing it is not offensive. Making light of the actions they committed is.
The media and blogosphere reaction to this has been analogous to a gaggle of kindergartners pointing to someone and collectively exclaiming “Awww, you said poop,” and Derek Dooley didn’t even say “poop.”
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