You’re operating under the assumption that they are acting in good faith. They are not. They are here to tear down society, kill everyone they hate, and build their dystopia… This book shows us who they are and what they want to do:
Just because YOU might not be a direct target, doesn’t mean you should not care about what they would like to do in this world.
And ridiculing Nazis is not exactly new…
Giving them time and energy does not work. Standing up to them, calling them out for what they are, denying them legitimacy in public discourse DOES work. See…
In the 80s, punks, anti-racist skins, and activists in the city of Portland showed that standing up to them worked in creating safer, more inclusive streets and scenes. Letting them into your scene (wherever that might be) so you can debate them only allows them to proliferate… they bring their little friends along until they own the place, because unlike the rest of us, they are willing to do whatever it takes to take over a space and push out those they deem unfit, up to and including violence that leads to deaths.
There are rare exceptions. For instance, if a fascist is about to kill someone, it might be a good idea to argue with them as a distraction while a friend sneaks up behind them with a crowbar.
And if you think that’s not really what debate means…that’s all it means to them. A distraction while the other fascists go out and hurt people. As Mindy and Melizmatic say, they never engage in good faith.
It could be some type of morbid curiosity. I would never be a friend with a person like nugent, for whatever reason I don’t even have right leaning friends. But I do have a friend that is so similar to me yet has such a radically different mindset that it’s really fascinating. It really boggles my mind, it’s very curious. He’s not a fascist though, so there’s that.
I have a few Trumper friends. Obviously we don’t talk about politics, and we’re not super tight friends or anything. Like, I could never be BFFs with someone when there’s this whole major side of life we could never talk about.
It’s tough though. I do believe it’s important to keep bridges intact as much as possible. These friends are not fascists– more like low information Republicans who drank a little too much of the kool-aid. However they are also some of the nicest people in my life in many ways. These are people who never blinked at being friends with an out trans person and who have done seriously kind and generous things for me on a regular basis.
What it reminds me of is that people are messy and complicated. I can’t reduce these people to a caricature and write them out of my life. If they were marching in Charlottesville or whatever, then yes, obviously we’d no longer be friends. But there is still grey area in America, even though it doesn’t feel like it.
I think there is still value in being friends with them, even if we don’t talk about politics. I’m their token trans friend. Maybe they think about me when a bathroom bill comes up or Former Guy goes on about how we’re all pedophiles. I am representation for them, even if we never talk about it.
I don’t know how else to prevent a civil war other than to keep little bridges like this open. If I start cutting out every single person who isn’t just like me politically, I don’t like where that ends up.
I don’t believe this is “tolerating fascists” or “debating fascists” or anything like that. I hope this all makes sense because I don’t wanna get ratioed into oblivion here. Obviously I don’t believe we should tolerate or befriend or debate fascists at all.
It probably helps that you’re in Canada, where there is some Trumpism and conspiracy theorists, but they’ve not gotten such a major hold on one of your political parties (yet, or hopefully never)… but down here, things have gotten much further along. We have state governors literally trying to put together lists of trans folks in the state, as well as pass laws making it far more difficult for trans kids (and in some cases even grown ass adults) to receive the care they need and to participate fully in social life. I’m sure some of the people who support those horrific measures also know trans people or have trans family members that they love and care about. Yet they still support those measures, whole heartedly. The one doesn’t preclude the other.
So, my question to you, is… Where is the breaking point? At what point do you cut ties as long as they continue to associate with what is factually a fascist movement? At what point do your friends become fascists and a direct threat to you, from your POV? Fascists aren’t inhuman monsters - even the ones who openly embrace this shit. They are people - complicated people who love others, can be caring and empathetic to some, even while holding eliminationist views. Plenty of people who agree with Trump and the more radical elements of his movement (white supremacists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes), still have friends who are not on board with their shit, and even friends who are part of the group they seek to eliminate. That’s how this stuff works, not by creating a bunch of mindless, hateful inhuman robots, but by twisting reality in their ideological echo-chamber that “normal” people can easily be swayed to see their neighbors who they normally got along with as not only expendable, but as a threat. This happened in Yugoslavia. The reason why the war in Bosnia was so bad was because of how many people had embraced the idea of a Yugoslav identity over distinct ethnic/religious identities. For years, Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, lived together, intermarried, saw themselves as friends and neighbors, sharing a community. It took an economic downturn and a sharp rise in nationalist rhetoric post-Tito to turn some of those good neighbors into warriors for their ethnicity/faith.
While making music, yes, not so much in the real world. It’s why so many bands fall apart from “differences in musical opinion” which result in said musicians not being able to tolerate being in the same room or talking to each other again.
Well, these are actually among my American friends. I lived down there for 25 years and still travel down there a lot. Made a lot of friends in all walks of life while I was there.
There certainly is a breaking point, but it’s hard to say where it would be. Largely because we don’t talk about politics, it’s hard to keep tabs on how deep they are in*. Like, did they support Jan 6? I don’t know. Would they vote for Trump again? Not sure. These are things that would probably be breaking points for me. It’s all pretty moot now that have moved back to Canada, but it’s something I think about. I still consider them friends and will probably see them again this summer, so I’ll be trying to get a sense from overheard conversations and such where everyone is at these days.
*That said, in my experience, when someone is in deep, you always know because they can’t help but tell you. They’ll make every conversation about it, much like every conversation with a hardcore Evangelical Christian always ends up being about their shitty beliefs. They can’t manage to not talk about them all the time. For example, I have a bunch of extended family who are full Evangelical Fox Watchers. They are literally impossible to have a conversation with because they don’t know anything about the world that hasn’t be told to them by Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, or one of their shitty preachers. I see them at holiday gatherings and we just don’t talk at all. I can never find any common ground beyond the weather. So the aforementioned friends of mine are not nearly in that deep, at least.
Right, but you’re in Canada now, yeah? So, the point still stands… there are direct threats from “normal” people happening right now in many places in the US. It helps that you’re not in the direct line of fire here, as are many people living in more conservative states. People driving this can very much compartmentalize their lives.
Or people know what lines not to cross with others… If they value their friendships with people not in the “movement” they compartmentalize - just because they can do that, doesn’t mean they aren’t any less committed to the “movement”. That’s how this stuff works unless these “movements” manage to get into power (see Nazi Germany). Then it’s too late. We stop them before they get into power, and that means pushing back against our friends and family on this stuff when possible. Trump tried to entrench himself and has failed thus far, but he or another figure could figure out a way to do it.
I moved back recently, so I was down there and feeling the threat, for sure. And to be fair it is part of why I left. It didn’t affect my friendship with those people though, because I wasn’t feeling the threat from them. I absolutely did feel the threat at their barbecues though. I was in the belly of the beast as it were, and I knew very well that other people there probably wouldn’t mind if I died. So I get what you’re talking about for sure.
I very much take your point, about compartmentalization and enabling. Folks like this are at least enabling fascism if not directly creating it themselves.
But if people are (I believe) still in the grey area, I want the bar to be pretty high for cutting them off. Because again, the alternative might be civil war. Even during the worst of wars, there’s always that red phone. There’s a way to talk to the other side and call it off. I believe in that because it’s the last gasp of not dehumanizing people you disagree with, even when they want you dead.
In the rational-thinking movement (sometimes called “organized skepticism”) we talk a lot about how to convince people to walk away from things like alternative medicine, astrology, or other harmful forms of woo. It’s never something that happens in one conversation. You plant a seed. You say something that gets them thinking, and then perhaps days, months, or years later, you shift their thinking a little bit. “You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into” we always say. They have to come around on their own, but you can plant the seed.
That’s what I hope I’m doing with friends like this. Planting a seed. One of the coolest (if I do say so myself) people in their lives is a queer electric car driving weirdo that they’re supposed to hate. Maybe they can’t quite bring themselves to do it, much as I can’t quite bring myself to hate them.
Again, not trying to “both sides” fascism here. Strictly speaking about people who I think might still be reachable. Giving up on them feels like giving up on humanity to me, and I can’t quite do that.
With all due respect, you don’t know them and I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say. If I lost my job and my family and washed up on their doorstep in need of food and shelter, I have no doubt they would take care of me. That doesn’t mean we’re best friends, but it does mean they are not irredeemable in my eyes.
I get at least part of where you’re coming from. I have family members who vote Republican, when they even bother to vote. Some are truly heinous in what they say and would probably do to their despised others, but some are also pretty uninformed about just how far right most of the party has become. Just because they’ll still vote Republican doesn’t mean they’re Nazis that I should stay away from and never speak to again. And yes, one in particular has come around to renouncing Republicans, and now canvasses for Democrats. I like to think our conversations over time helped bring about that change.