Nazis Are the Least of Your Worries

Nazis are reprehensible, clearly. It’s quite easy to dislike and disavow them. And yet there is a more insidious threat in society, one that causes immeasurable harm and one that isn’t easily pinned down or identified. (Or punched.)

You, and your lack of self-awareness.

On the night of Trump’s election, I was crewing a local variety show. I had recently been fired from and subsequently slandered by members of a dance group represented at the show. Ever the professional, I still maintained my commitment and performed my duties without inciting drama.

The election results poured in as the show concluded and performers, crew, and audience all purchased drinks at the venue. Drowning my sense of impending doom in a whiskey sour, I overheard one of my denigraters sobbing into a friend’s shoulder, “I can’t believe he won. He’s so awful. He’s such a hateful BULLY!”

This came from someone who had repeatedly maligned my work and ultimately ostracized me, while encouraging others to slander and gossip about me. She’d effectively banned me from the community, leaving me with thousands of dollars of debt that I could never make back. Now she was upset that a “bully” had taken the White House.

Why would a bully not want a bully to represent her? Ah, because while she had reasons to despise Trump, her reasons for bullying me were also important to her. As convenient reasons did not exist, she invented ones for why her treatment of me was acceptable, and indeed had Photoshopped screenshots to pass around “proving” that I deserved it.

A common problem among liberals is that they assume their ideology is enough, that because they ostensibly stand against discrimination and bigotry, their work is done. Radicals have been on their case for this for years. But beyond lack of action, I believe that many liberals perpetuate the biases and poor behavior they claim to eschew.

I’ve seen way too many “feminists” express anti-Semitic and transphobic views. I’ve seen plenty of “pro-immigration” people go on to characterize entire ethnicities by what they “lack,” or blatantly say things like, “I‘m all for immigrants from Mexico and the like, they’re great at helping out around the house.” I’ve seen the most tolerant, kind-hearted people immediately blame Asians’ Asian-ness or women’s woman-ness for bad driving, or assume that people who left the church “had a hard life.” And all these people defend these views by pointing to their armchair activism, or insisting that they have black/women/Jewish/insert-marginalized-group-here friends.

In particular, my ex-abuser, a textbook psychopath and raging alcoholic, fools a lot of people because he wears the “friendly hippie” mantle. Fact is, he didn’t use to be this way; he adopted this persona because he knew it would work for him in a liberal city. He’s even using a fake name, which is fairly easy to find out, but no one bothers to check because he “seems so nice.”

Lo and behold, this long-haired, pro-nature, anti-vaccine, music-loving, Birkenstock-wearing, home-brewing paragon of 21st-century Hippie would talk to no end about the supremacy of his German genes, why women were lesser creatures, and how Hitler was pretty admirable “when you really think about it,” and even my liberal friends have sat down in awe to listen to him, compelled by his sheer force of personality. Even my friends who are the first to bang the feminist drum against people like Brock Turner doubted me when I told them how my ex-abuser had repeatedly assaulted me, sexually and otherwise. “He seems so nice, though!” Well, duh. That’s how he gets away with it.

Liberals are not immune to the machinations and manipulations of sociopaths, nor should any of them assume that they’ve shed their biases simply by being liberal. By apologizing for an abuser — or a neo-Nazi — you’re revealing that your moral stance is on shaky ground. Is it so hard to condemn someone for evil? And by decrying a politician for the behavior that you too exhibit, you’re revealing that you think the harm you cause doesn’t matter because someone else’s is “worse.” Is it so hard to admit your faults?

It must be hard. So if you are liberal, but you engage in bullying behavior or express bigoted views, don’t bother to join any resistance movement. We have no use for you until you fix yourself first.

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Writer by day, circus artist by night. I write about art, media, culture, health, science, and where they all meet. Join my list:

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