Note: I started writing this post two weeks ago (what can I say, I’m passionate about both politics and procrastination). At this point, the country seems to have moved on from the issue, and I certainly hope not having an enabler in the White House will help. Still, I don’t see the problem going away any time soon, so my point stands even if it may not feel so timely right now.
Whether you consider Trump leaving office to be cause for celebration or despair, I hope we all can agree that we still have a huge problem — namely, that a tangible segment of his supporters are Nazis.
Now to be fair, this doesn’t mean that every Trump supporter is a Nazi, or even a generic-variety white supremacist. It would be hyperbolic and disingenuous to accuse all Trump supporters of being Nazis.
At the same time, I see so many conservatives using this caveat as a way to continue tolerating the presence of Nazis on their side, to weasel their way out of what I seriously hope is the deep discomfort that they are on the same side as Nazis. So many conservatives don’t seem to understand — or don’t want to understand — why this is a problem. And so, to make my point, I’m going use a metaphor that I think everyone will get:
Let’s say you and your friends are in the midst of some sort of kerfuffle with another group of people. Maybe it’s because you disagree about politics. Maybe it’s because they’re jocks and you’re geeks. Maybe it’s because they love The Mandalorian and you’re a literal monster who feels nothing for baby green Jedi. Whatever the case, y’all just aren’t having any of each other’s business.
So you’re all standing around kerfuffling each other, when suddenly, the ground beneath you starts to rumble and crack. And to your horror, dozens and dozens of snarling zombies claw their way up through the fissures. (Just stay with me here — I’m going somewhere with this metaphor, I swear.)
Anyway, the zombies start lumbering towards you (because that’s what zombies do), and you’re about to freak out like you’ve never freaked out before. But then, you notice something weird …
The zombies lurch right past you and your friends, and they only go after the people in the other group — you know, those Mandalorian-loving jerkwads. It’s almost as though … the zombies are on your side.
So what do you do now?
Do you sit back and let the zombies eat the faces off of your nemeses?
Do you shrug to yourself and get in some face-eating of your own?
Or do you think, “Well, shit. We need to stop these zombies before all of us get killed”?
The answer should be obvious … I hope.
You don’t join the zombies. Hey, maybe I could try eating some faces myself …
You don’t make excuses for the zombies. Come on, they’re just zombies. They don’t know any better …
And you definitely don’t just let the zombies keep milling about. I mean, they’re on my side. What’s the worst that could go wrong?
Just because the zombies happen to be attacking your enemies right now doesn’t mean you actually want them on your side. At some point, you’re going to have to contend with the fact that you have zombies in your midst.
And worse, the longer you let the zombies do their thing, the more zombies you’ll end up having to deal with. Because that’s how zombies work. They kill and make more zombies. And then those zombies kill and make even more. In the task of zombie management, about the most shortsighted and self-defeating thing you could do is to tell yourself, “Well, I don’t need to worry about the zombies right now. There’s only a few of them, and … you know, they’re on my side.”
No, by sheer virtue of what they are and what they do, your first priority absolutely must be to get rid of your zombie problem once and for all. Dealing with zombies is just that clearcut.
Now, apply the same exact idea to Nazis. Because Nazis work the same way.
If you’re at a protest, and you see a guy with a “Camp Aushwitz” shirt …
If you’re hanging out with a bunch of friends you met on the internet, and you notice one guy’s shirt says that six million wasn’t enough …
If you’re just walking around, and you notice a swastika flying alongside a banner supporting your favorite president …
You have Nazis. On your side.
You know what Nazis represent. You know the evil they stand for. Left unchecked, Nazis will only keep spreading their hate. If you look the other way and let them do their thing, because their “thing” happens to align with your “thing” at the moment, your side will eventually be overrun by Nazis. Yes, Nazis are the zombies of political ideologies.
So what can you do then?
Well, I don’t condone taking it upon yourself to kill Nazis. And I’m not even sure how wise it would be to pick a fight if you happen to run into a group of them. (I mean, how many friends you got?) So no, I don’t have any simple answers for fighting Nazis. All I can say is that it starts by recognizing them and acknowledging the problem. And refusing to put up with their shit.
Don’t just look the other way, because they happen to agree with you on some issue. Make it clear that they are not welcome on your side. Support the people who are actively fighting Nazis, even if you disagree with them on other issues. Because I promise you, not allowing Nazis to proliferate takes precedence over literally any other issue we have to contend with.
Like with zombies, do not make excuses for the Nazis. Do not pretend they don’t exist. Do not create false equivalences and compare the other side to them (because I promise you, no one on the other side comes anywhere close to the hate and evil that Nazis represent).
Just don’t allow them to be. On anyone’s side. At all.
But most importantly, maybe consider the decision-making processes you took that culminated in you being on the same side as the Nazis. What does it say about your system of values and beliefs that your goals somehow ended up aligning with those of the Nazis?
More than anything else, I’d say that’s the issue we all have to contend with here.