Stop Asking People to Be More Civil and Have Better Dialogue With Nazis
Originally posted by Amy Young on Facebook; reposted here with permission from the author and edited for clarity.
I am sorry for all of us that I am posting about white supremacists in 2018, but I am. Read on if you're inclined. If you're here to perform whaddaboutism, I'd go ahead and excuse yourself right now because you are not welcome here.
I belong to local group Tacoma Against Nazis (TAN). Founded by a number of remarkable local activists, this group had originally targeted Tac Town Tattoo, a tattoo and piercing parlor owned and staffed by members of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist organization Northwest Hammerskins Crew 38 (owner Jason de Simas is second from right at the bottom, piercer Irma Karr is to his left). These are folks who fly "White Lives Matter" banners over I-5, have Nazi symbols tattooed on their body, fly flags associated with the Hammerskins, etc.
The Tacoma News Tribune, our local paper, did a couple of stories on TAN. In those stories, though, journalists referred to Tac Town Tattoo folks as "alleged" white supremacists. Alleged. Y'all, these folks are "allegedly nazis" in the same way I am "allegedly a professor." Except I never had Ph.D tattooed on my neck. So, while the stories were largely supportive of TAN, this reticence to call white supremacy what it is remains, even in our progressive neck of the woods.
Then, in an extraordinarily tone deaf editorial, the Trib stated that our protests and efforts were giving oxygen to Nazis and that, essentially, we should try to understand where they're coming from if we're really going to make inroads. The response was so resoundingly negative that the Trib issued yet another statement that we just didn't understand what they were saying. Which, I can tell you, did not help. So TAN issued a response.
Then this morning, I wake up to learn that Unite the Right's (Charlottesville Nazis) organizer, Jason Kessler, was interviewed on NPR in DC to provide a "balance" to Black Lives Matters voices. He was asked what he thinks are the differences in races, and he proceeded to rank them.
JFC PEOPLE WTAF. Some stated it was good Kessler and other WS folks are getting attention because they "out" themselves as racist assholes. WOULD YOU NOT HAVE ALREADY KNOWN THEY WERE RACIST ASSHOLES PRIOR TO HAVING THEM ON YOUR MEDIA PLATFORM GIVING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEW HATE? My sincere guess is tomorrow morning's NYT headline will read something like, "Jason Kessler is a Nazi, but isn't it more important he makes a great cornbread?"
But no, instead we get an attempt at "unbiased" journalism that allows white supremacists on NPR to "balance out" Black Lives Matters activists. The only fucking reason BLM exists is because of white supremacy. PEOPLE DEFENDING CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS ALSO BELIEVE IN WHITE SUPREMACY--and before I get a whole bunch of cray on this, I would remind you that I could pull out some Daughters of the Confederacy paperwork here, and that my ancestors fought to maintain chattel slavery because they too believed in white supremacy. Because Jason Kessler might be nice to the kids he drives in carpool does not mean he gets on NPR and is allowed to expound on his toxic bullshit. Lots of white supremacists go about their lives seeming like normal people, but they ought not to be normalized. And that is what we are doing. And that is what TAN is fighting.
Nazis/white supremacists never went away. Garden variety racists are white supremacists. They are products of what Ta-Nehisi Coates calls this "toxic bloodline." We are ALL products of this. There are those of us who choose, instead, to fight white supremacy in our communities, even if it's one tattoo parlor. These folks are hugely emboldened by our current administration. Hell, a number of them are running for office (sup, Steve King!). DO NOT KEEP FUCKING ASKING PEOPLE TO BE MORE CIVIL AND TO HAVE BETTER DIALOGUE WITH NAZIS. Do. Not. Fuck your centrist bullshit. Do better.
Bio: Amy Young is an Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication at Pacific Lutheran University. She’s lived in Tacoma for 11 years. This is her first year officially fighting Nazis.