Punching Nazis and Being Scared
At night, after we put our three year old son Declan to bed, the wife and I either read or watch television. After a long day of work, I gravitate towards comfort television, something soothing and familiar like Conan or Comedy Bang Bang or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. My wife enjoys garbage television, as I do, like 90 Day Fiance or Couples Therapy but more often at the end of a long, hard day, she wants to watch something that will remind her that the world is an horrible, violent and cruel place, and that humanity is doomed.
I had a particularly difficult day yesterday. I went to the bathroom and came out to discover that Declan had taken a permanent marker to one of the walls in the apartment we rent. Thank God for Mr. Clean’s Miracle Eraser or I may have suffered some manner of rage-induced heart attack last night. Then I spent two hours trying to get my piece of shit Wal-Mart cell phone activated at an AT&T store before they told me the activation would have to happen at Wal-Mart, which is information I wish someone at Wal-Mart had shared with me when I bought the phone.
My wife helped me endure yesterday’s gauntlet of aggravation with my sanity relatively intact, so when she put on a Vice documentary about the violence in Charlottesville, I was in no place to object, even if this was the opposite of comfort television.
When I was a kid, Nazis and white Supremacists were clowns. They were buffoons. No one took them seriously. They were a garish, unAmerican freak show trotted out on The Jerry Springer Show or The Morton Downey Jr. Show for the masses to judge and to laugh at. To say that they did not occupy the mainstream of American culture and American politics would be an understatement.
That has all changed. The election of a black man followed by the election of a flagrant racist has brought white supremacy and contemporary Nazism out into the open in a way I never could have envisioned. We now inhabit a world where it seems safe to assume that in this skirmish, and others, the President of the United States’ sympathies probably lie with Nazi murderers and terrorists.
The white nationalists in the Vice documentary were not the clowns and jokes found on sleazy talk shows in the 1980s. They were serious. They’re empowered by the idea that their ideas, and their values, are shared by the President of the United States and a lot of the people who voted for him.
The Vice documentary was terrifying in its urgency and intensity. But it was particularly disturbing because I’m Jewish, and part of being a Jew involves wondering and worrying about when the seething hatred of Jews that inspired the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust will explode back into public view.
It’s a terrifying time to be an American, and a terrifying time to be an immigrant and a minority but it’s also a terrifying time to be a Jew. When I watched the violence and tension in Charlottesville I couldn’t help but think about the Juggalo March on Washington, and how it’s scheduled the same day as an Alt-Right rally in the same place.
When I contemplated the possibility of Juggalos marching on Trump’s D.C at the end of 7 Days In Ohio, it was appealing to me because it was such an abstraction, and also because I was very certain that Trump would not get elected. I was wrong. As an idea, Juggalos squaring off against Trump and his minions radiated so much crazy, surreal promise. Well, it’s not an abstraction or an idea anymore and while there’s part of me that looks forward to mixing it up with the people making our country terrible, I also have a responsibility to myself and my family and you guys to take care of myself and not deliberately put myself in harm’s’ way.
We’d all like to imagine that we’d beat the shit out of the Richard Spencers of the world if given an opportunity. But I don’t fucking know. I just don’t fucking know. So while I’m excited to both be marching and covering the March for High Times I will admit that I’m also more than a little scared. It’s okay to be scared. I fucking wish the piece of shit in the White House was capable of acknowledging that he’s scared. But it’s even more important to overcome that fear and stand up for what you believe in.
On September 16th, 2017 I’m going to March because this my goddamn country, fucked up and flawed as it might be, not the Alt-Right fucks and the Nazi shitheads. And it’s about time we pushed those bastards back into the shadows where they belong.
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