Hello and welcome back to Lady Things. I've had some time off last week but I'm back to talk to you about Nazis again, because it's 2017 and this is our life now.
You may have heard about the New York Times' softball profile of Tony Hovater, a Nazi sympathizer with really bad eyebrows and the subsequent backlash that sparked an outpouring of responses and critiques. The piece was instantly entered into the How Not To Write About This Shit Hall Of Fame and there's a lot that can be said about the whole thing.
This week though, instead of breaking down everything that went wrong, I'm just going to tell you the things I don't care about when it comes to Nazis and their sympathizers, who are pretty much also Nazis.
My guiding principle on this is a thing that's been going around more lately called the Paradox of Tolerance, a term coined in 1945 by philosopher Karl Popper, which describes a decision paradox where unlimited tolerance of thoughts and ideas, like those of Nazis, actually leads to intolerance and suppression of those who are not Nazis. Basically, if we allow Nazis unlimited freedom to express their ideas, which are built on not tolerating people they think are lesser than them, then at some point tolerating their bullshit puts the rest of us in jeopardy.
I firmly believe in not tolerating Nazis, ever, so that being said, here are five hard and fast things I will never care about when it comes to Nazis or their sympathizers, who are totally not Nazis but think those who committed mass genocide maybe had some good ideas.
1. Whether their opinions are heard
There seems to a widely held belief that if people like Hovater aren't allowed to spew their diarrhea worldview whenever and wherever they want, that the threads holding the fabric of this country together will start to unravel. As if the fair treatment of Nazis is the standard for an equal society.
Whenever I hear this I'm left with nothing but questions. Like, if the Nazis aren't allowed to give their talk, what's going to happen to them? What does it mean for the non-Nazis? The police brutality at Standing Rock didn't happen because some white nationalist got run off a college campus and wasn't allowed to give a speech. It's not like a Nazi getting a book deal is going to then allow for more diverse voices in the publishing industry.
This is so obvious but every time something like this happens there is much rending of garments, from people who are presumably not Nazis, over what this means for the rest of our freedoms. Well I'm telling you right now, it means nothing that hasn't already happened or isn't happening right now.
2. The things they like that the rest of us (non-nazis) like
I know there are plenty of evil people out there who also happen to like wine tasting and antiquing, it's not going to make me bond with them or see a connection to them.
I'm never going to think "Hey, maybe that Nazi isn't such a bad guy after all," just because he knows the words to the "Miami" song on Golden Girls.
Why? Because no amount of shared mundane interests is going to make a Nazi or their sympathizers suddenly start seeing people of color as human beings. What changes after I find out some Nazi also likes pretzels and cheese sauce, just like me? Nothing, because they're still a person whose worldview is based on denying me my humanity. That's what happens.
3. If Nazis retain their employment
If someone looks at the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and thinks "Yes, this is the world I want," then I don't give a rat's ass about whether or not they keep their job once people find out.
You see, for me at least, once I find out someone likes Nazi stuff, that's when I immediately stop caring about the things that I usually care about when they happen to other people.
Like for example, let's say you told me you lost your job. "Oh gee, that stinks," I'd probably say, "let me know if I can help." Why would I say this? Because you're not a Nazi.
The second you tell me "I think Hitler gets a bad rap, he actually had some good ideas," that's the moment I cease to care about your employment status because I'm human and can only spend so much time worrying about the ills of the world. Not caring about people who advocate genocide or are fine with it frees up some room in my empathy reserves for the multitude of people who don't think that kind of thing.
It's not hard.
4. Their stupid feelings
Not really much to say here. Just that I don't care about their feelings, nor do I worry about offending them. Again, for the people in the back, I don't care about their feelings because they're Nazis.
5. What they wear
I hate to break it to you, but most Nazis aren't running around in shit-stained boots and overalls. It isn't new or helpful to describe what they're wearing. If a well-dressed Nazi is a novel thing to you, what that tells me is that you think racism is something only rural, working class people are capable of. Catch up with the rest of us and understand that most unrepentant bigots know how to put on a pair of clean pants.
That's all for this week. The things I talked about above are always going to be true, and worrying about whether or not Nazis are getting a fair shake is never going to be something I waste energy on. Ever. There are plenty of good people out there who don't think genocide is something that humans should do to one another. Those are the people I care about.