Before I go on, I want to be very clear that when I talk about the idea of reclaiming symbols stolen by Nazis, my stance is that we should not try to reclaim them. Because once white supremacy has tainted something, it’s like spilling soup on the ground – we can’t get it back.
But I am speaking to white people only here.
1. They are my people and therefore my responsibility. Other communities are perfectly capable of governing themselves based on their collective circumstances and histories.
2. Because there are modern religions who are not in any way related to Christianity or its crimes which have also used or use versions of the swastika, which is a very ancient symbol. There are some Buddhists and Hindi who are working to reclaim the symbol for them. I am not speaking to these cases, either.
And onto ….
After an unfortunate conversation on Facebook in a private group I’m in, I had some thoughts:
1. No, I am not jumping to conclusions. This man *chooses* to dress in a way that signals “skinhead” and I am responding based on my cultural understanding of what those symbols mean.
2. No, it is not the same as if I accused someone Muslim of being an extremist. For one thing, folx who choose to follow Norse paganism are not an oppressed class. In the United States, Muslims are. For another thing, most Muslims are practicing what their families have been practicing for hundreds of years. Norse neopaganism is very new and Old Norse has not been active for hundreds of years.
3. PS. Wanna guess who it was that brought back Norse paganism?
4. No, there is no real difference between neo-Nazis or Nazis or skinheads. A nazi is a Nazi is a Nazi. I will not be taking questions.
5. No, my “Eat the Rich” face mask that you went and found on my Facebook profile when you decide to do some light stalking because you didn’t like what I had to say does not make me a hypocrite. Me wearing that in public does not oppress the rich, nor does it signify that I am an unsafe person because I am in no way a threat to rich people. And the sentiment is not a threat to anyone else so exactly who is being harmed when I wear the mask?
6. No, calling out Nazi symbols is not the same as transphobia for fuck’s sake.
7. Why. The. Fuck. Do you want a Hitler mustache? Why is that the part of 1930s fashion you, as an apparent connoisseur of 1930s fashion, absolutely must have? Why can’t you avoid a Hitler mustache while enjoying 1930s fashion??
I rarely know how to do the right thing, socially. But I am hearing BIPOC, Jewish and Trans activists asking white people to speak up in white spaces. And so I did. And let me tell you, the other white people were not into it. It’s so strange, and frankly confusing, some of the arguments they made. Like I am not even kidding about #7. That’s the hill you’re prepared to die on? For reals?
Anyway, it threw me until I realized: that’s exactly how this works. The system trains us to react to protect it without thinking, because once we do the thinking, we can see the system is toxic and needs to go. So when a person pushes back against it, the system remains protected. If I call out white supremacy, white supremacy will fight back.
People were claiming I was the bully for making assumptions, for judging a book by its cover. For making assumptions about the way this person looked. But what assumption am I supposed to draw when I see somebody who looks like a Nazi? Some books should be judged by their covers. Like, if you see the Necronomicon, fucking do not read it aloud, just lock the cabin door behind you and find a different AirBnb for next weekend.
I thought we were kicking Nazis. If I go out in my Nazi kicking boots am I expected to interview every nazi-looking person I meet to assess whether they actually are a Nazi or not?
With white supremacy on the rise (even Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken about it recently), why do you choose a look that could get you mistaken for a Nazi? Why do you want to present as something so dangerous and evil? Why can’t you find a new look? New symbols? Human beings are so creative that we were able to put human beings on a whole other rock in space and you can’t find a new shape?
If it looks like a Nazi, it’s a fucking Nazi.
It’s time to choose your uniform; what side are you on?