Don’t date Nazis!

The wonderful Miss Conduct at the Boston Globe answered a letter about a pair of sisters, one of whom is dating a dude who has a Nazi flag in his room. She nailed it:

“…the thing about Nazis is, they are a great place to draw the line…”

Let me add a script:

“Sister, your fucking boyfriend has a fucking Nazi flag in his fucking bedroom. What the fuck are you doing? YOU ARE DATING A LITERAL NAZI. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE!!!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!! GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD AND YOURSELF AND ALL THAT IS GOOD AND TRUE AND DUMP THIS NAZI ASSHOLE!!!”

STOP DATING NAZIS, EVERYONE, OKAY, COOL, GOOD TALK, THANK YOU.

P.S. Stop dating people with Confederate paraphernalia, too. SAME DIFFERENCE, Y’ALL.

167 comments
  1. stellanor said:

    If you don’t draw the line at actual literal nazis WHERE DO YOU DRAW IT?

  2. Mary said:

    Kein Sex mit Nazis is a venerable and succinct German antifa slogan and should be universal.

    • thathat said:

      That is a good phrase. Adding it to my German phrasebook.

    • YellowLily said:

      So glad someone found this gif because it was my FIRST thought when reading this!

    • QoB said:

      Sassy Gay Friend FTFW in this instance.

    • OMG, I was just telling my sister about this character last night.

  3. IrishEm said:

    Has she no concept of history? Or popular culture? OR STUFF THAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW THAT IS SCARY AND WRONG????

    • Enplaned said:

      Ignorance is certainly part of the issue (though not one that excuses what she’s doing). A poor education system is one of the deeper reasons why Trump won last year. If you don’t educate people well, you can’t be surprised when they fall for con men. And a big root of racism is ignorance.

      • JenniferP said:

        There are tons of smart, rich, well-educated suburban racists, too! The suburbs with their well-funded schools were PRIME Fanta-In-Chief country. It’s easy to chalk it up to class and education but that’s not the story.

        • theluidaeg said:

          What The Captain said here. ^

          • Emma said:

            *forwards this to Laci Green, regretfully*

          • Emma said:

            … That is not the reply box I thought I was typing into

        • M Dubz said:

          Let’s not forget that the Third Reich was full of very well educated people too. Some people are just fascist assholes on purpose, and we should shun them.

          • MuddieMae said:

            Hell, some very educated people understand that racism will work out well for them. The problem is their morals, not their knowledge.

          • MuddieMae said:

            Ha, I typed facism and it autocorrected to racism, but really it’s true for both.

        • K Dubs said:

          Fanta. In. Chief. I’m dying.

          And yes, this. Believe you me… I changed school districts when I was in sixth grade, going from what you would consider inner-city to super duper white suburbia. When the teachers “introduced” me, they made me stand at the front of the class and asked if anyone wanted to know anything about me. The first question I got was, and I know this is from a sixth grader but it’s kind of emblematic of the issue: “Do you know any black people?”

          I’m now Jewish (converted in 2010), and I thankfully live in a community that did not vote for ol’ cheetopants, but I can guarantee everyone, ignorance comes in all flavors, including rich and smart.

          • JenniferP said:

            Credit The Daily Show, who called him A Rapey Can of Fanta.

      • Lies-my-estrogen-told-me said:

        As a California transplant who now lives in the rural South, I can assure you that their ignorance is very often willfull. Certain (traditional) Southerners consider progress thinking to be of the devil. My impression after living here for 12+ years now is that the traditional South suffers from a major inferiority complex, which is why the perceived power of white supremacy appeals to them.
        Of course there are plenty of enlightened people in the South, they’re just not the majority yet.

        • JenniferP said:

          Plenty of racists in Cali and my homeland of Massachusetts.
          AMERICA IS BUILT ON WHITE SUPREMACY.

          • Kat G, Ph.D. said:

            Seconding that. The South may have a slightly different flavor of racism, but it’s there in spades on the liberal coasts. I’ve lived on both of them, in deeply blue areas, and white supremacy is alive and well. The city with the most segregated school system? New York City. Where was Henry Louis Gates when he was arrested for trying to gain access to his own home? Cambridge, Massachusetts. A friend (an excellent, cautious, speed limit-abiding driver) was pulled over *thirteen times* in two years at UConn and has had his car searched by drug-sniffing dogs multiple times. He’s never smoked pot in his life or allowed it in his car, but wow, a lot of Connecticut cops sure claimed to smell it on him! Framing racism as something only the South does (or only uneducated people do, and so on) is false and deeply unhelpful to actually mitigating the damage it does.

          • stellanor said:

            I’m from a super well-educated upper middle class highly diverse town in California and people were still totally racist, it was just not socially acceptable to be overtly racist in public. You could not use racial slurs or say you didn’t like some minority group without getting smacked down, but you could absolutely do all kinds of more subtle things like complain about new (nonwhite) people changing the “culture” of your neighborhood, or assume anyone wearing baggy pants (which… in my town? almost exclusively black dudes) was a criminal, or talk about how articulate a person of color was or was not (read: how white do they sound).

            It’s kind of extra gross because people get to be racist with this crappy veneer of not being racist so they’re being racist but feeling virtuous. Barf.

          • Alli525 said:

            @stellanor – yuuuuup. I like the term “limousine liberals” for types like those.

          • Thank you, Kat G. Damn right. Many of us have fled the inbred but there are many good southern people that hate racism and the most vehemently racist person I ever met was from Wisconsin. The South in no way holds the monopoly on rednecks either. I love the Pacific NW and there are some of the most uneducated rednecks I’ve encountered there. In fact, most of the places I love, the Deep South, the Pacific NW, Georgia, North Carolina, all have all flavors. I love the South, hate racism, and also disagree with the knee jerk suppression of the Confederate place in history as has come out *here* more than once.
            MY boyfriend, late 70s lived across the street from David Duke, renowned KKKAhole, who distributed KKK literature all over his neighborhood. We gathered them all up, piled them in his yard and BURNED them! Talk about young and… impetuous. I returned from across the country to vote against him. Long after the election “Duke Country” signs remained all over my local city, high on power poles where they couldnt be reached. I took my 13 yo foster son, a 20′ extension ladder and removed them all. Some people shouted at me and uneven tagged my ladder, me 15′ in the air. Spoiler Alert, I am not a racist.
            I still believe that trying to eliminate traces of Confederate history is wrong. Where I live, different races have lived together for so long, we actually have the same history. We share the same history and there are many, many interracial friendships, neighbors, families, celebrations, etc. White Supremacy is dying out with that part of the older generation. Many of that generation, even descendent of Confederates, were part of the Civil Rights movement. My mother sat in the back of the bus in 1953, gave rides to people boycotting a segregated bus service. The south has a turbulent history that required outside intervention to make civil rights happen. But it has worked. I think most young people have moved on, but there are people that have Confederate flags or tattoos, and that doesn’t mean they are racist.

          • JenniferP said:

            @Bydabayou I can tell that we’re never gonna agree about this, but the Confederate flag is a racist symbol of a traitorous war. If having a symbol of that war on your body…150 years later…is an important piece of self expression to you I gotta ask why. Maybe there are good people who have done good things who have one, but I will 1,000% look askance at someone who displays it in 2017 and if that’s my loss, so be it. Seeing one on a dude who wanted to date me would have been an INSTANOPE. Also, veterans wore their uniforms and medals on Decoration Day, but it had all but died out as a thing people casually displayed (as tattoos, patches, bumper sticker, etc.)….until the Dixiecrats adopted it in the 1940s as they opposed Truman’s attempts at racial integration and suddenly it popped up everywhere. Whatever it meant during the Civil War it has a more recent meaning as an explicitly segregationist branding during the 20th centry when all of a sudden “It’s about our heritage” dogwhistle became a thing at the exact same time as the civil rights movement. Not a coincidence.

            Yep, it’s common. Yep, it’s displayed by people who maybe don’t think fully through the history but who are nice to old ladies and pet dogs and what have you. Yes, it’s displayed by people you personally love. Yes I’m sure some people who wear it or fly it have some black friends and don’t hate black people and who don’t think about the sickening feeling that so many black people get when they see it all around them. I’ve got Germans in the extended family and strangely nobody displays the Nazi flag and talks about Great Uncle So & So’s brave service of his country because we want to feel close to him and the history of that time. We read about that time, we read the letters, we don’t pretend it didn’t happen, we know they were human beings. Nobody talks about their proud “heritage” of that time or pretends somehow that there was a cause that wasn’t “Being a big old Nazi.”

            There’s a difference between preserving history and displaying a fucked up cultural symbol in the here and now and, worst of all, pretending that it’s somehow divorced from that history. “It’s heritage, not hate!” No one is suppressing shit, based on how many assholes I saw proudly sporting bumper stickers on my last trips to Tennessee & Texas & Mississippi. By assholes I mean real nice human beings with no gross political opinions whatsoever who are definitely not trying to signal anything to the black people who see that flag on their truck or to their fellow white folks about where their views lie. I’m glad you’ve personally done so much awesome, real antiracist work and I believe your stories. We’re never gonna agree on this, and if my total disdain for that flag makes you feel “suppressed”…ok? You can think I’m a Yankee asshole. I can live with that.

            tl;dr If a person loves the Confederate flag so much they gotta wear one, I don’t actually have to spend time plumbing the exact amount of racist intentions and feelings and history they have and wondering if they are really a good person deep down inside. They are wearing a fucking symbol that communicates “Hey, this means really racist stuff!” If they change their hearts later, cool, maybe cover up the Obvious Racism Symbol?

          • Kat G., Ph.D. said:

            @stellanor – there’s an opinion piece about Hartford, Connecticut that I always come back to in discussions like this: https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/city-by-city/hartford-connecticut/

            Money quote: “…old New England money dislikes racism the way it dislikes loud house paint or flashy Japanese cars; not because it’s wrong, but because it’s gauche. Instead: those silent looks, that air of generous patience.”

          • Alanna said:

            Yes, I’m a black woman who has lived all around the US. Quite frankly, I get a bit annoyed when people in the North pat themselves on the back re: racism. I’ve seen and experienced racism all over (yes, including racial slurs in well-educated suburban cities). In fact, there is a certain titillation factor around racism that seems worse in the North than it is down south in Alabama.

          • changeling said:

            Can I borrow your rant? It is eloquent in a way I am not, to help explain to people why I think the Confederate flag is racist and hateful.

          • JenniferP said:

            Sure!

          • changeling said:

            Thanks

        • bat lord said:

          @Lies-my-estrogen-told-me: I grew up in NorCal. The extremely white, mostly middle-class community in which I was raised was definitely racist. We can’t pretend that only Southerners are racist–it’s disingenous to focus on that and ignore the slightly-more-veiled-but-just-as-dangerous bigotry in other parts of the nation.

          • Also, post-Civil War Yankees were hardly chomping at the bit to employ free Blacks. Sure, they’d free them, but actually give them a chance to LIVE? Nope.

            Racism is insidious and pervasive.

          • wondering said:

            Mary, I think the quote was something like “Hated slavery only slightly more than former slaves”. Can’t remember quite where I read it though.

          • wondering said:

            Oops, sorry, I should have said Michelle. Comment box too far from the post.

    • thathat said:

      There’s this kind of scary mindset now that’s *calling* itself “centerism” or whatever, but really is not very centrist at all. You might be familiar with their catchphrase from this last election:

      “I can’t imagine being so intolerant that you’d stop being friends with someone over a political opinion!”

      It’s gained a lot of ground, and it sort of just…spreads out from there.

      • Yeah, I’ve been wondering how we got to where labeling anything “political” makes it automatically worthy of nothing more than dismissal and disregard for meaning, history and context. To the point where I don’t even know what the word political is supposed to mean anymore. Or what the hell racists and misogynists think it means, anyway.

      • S said:

        I had a very productive for him and irritating for me discussion with a Lyft driver who fit in this category.

        He was railing against the intolerance of liberals. Eventually we get to the origin story for this, after some polite questioning and point making on my end. The origin story was that he had several gay friends, and he told his gay friends that he opposed gay marriage, and then they were mad at him and said he was anti gay. (Homophoibic? i can’t remember the word he used.)

        Further questions revealed that he didn’t oppose gays having equal rights to straight married couples, he just opposed the idea of them being able to call themselves married. So I proposed that instead we should be seeking a wholly new institution with legal rights that is not called marriage that everyone can engage in. He didn’t like this either.

        I basically had to walk him up to a logical cliff, where he either admitted that he didn’t think gay people deserved full equality with straight people OR he changed his mind.

        Of course, what actually happened is he changed the subject. But I hope, somewhere in his mind, he decided that he needed to employ logic and stay on firm ground, or throw himself off the cliff.

        But he was an otherwise intelligent, educated, articulate person who seemed capable of critical thinking. But he saw his gay friend’s (perfectly reasonable) response as unfair.

        Now I don’t think his gay friend was in any way obligated to have the (exhausting) discussion I had with him. But I do think that it’s SO important that when we have the capacity and the patience and the willingness to really engage with people and drag them up to that moral cliff where they have to admit their own bigotry to themselves, or change their mind, that we do.

        It’s hard, and it doesn’t always work, but this thing where we say “YOU’RE A IST! BYE!” doesn’t change anyone’s mind at all. It just makes them feel martyred and righteous and enables them to go on complaining about liberals and political correctness.

        But then, sometimes there is just no winning. (Hi Dad!)

        • Late to the party, I know, but I did something like this once too. With a co-worker, so the stakes were high, and I REALLY didn’t want to do it but I REALLY felt like it was something that had to happen, and I was lucky enough to make it happen. I think of this as doing a community service, sometimes.

          So, I’m queer, I was working with non-queer people who were beyond okay with it, except Rob, who kept looking uncomfortable when same-sex marriage came up. And since I was fake-married (with a rabbi, under a chuppah, in front of family) and looking toward being real-married (with a legal form and some signatures), the topic kept coming up. So I finally asked him about it openly when it was just the 2 of us in a room.

          I won’t go into details I can barely remember, but in the end it boiled down to, he thought that marriage shouldn’t even exist as a government institution, so I shouldn’t be allowed to get married. I tried to show him (a hetero married man) that this wasn’t exactly levelling the playing field, and my best memory is that he kind of admitted my point but still couldn’t change his thinking. He was also actively religious, as in, was treasurer for his church, and that may have influenced him but to his credit he didn’t bring religion into the conversation he was having with me.

          I was so sad. I had liked the guy, but after that I could only be a friendly co-worker and I never opened up to him anymore.

      • Alice said:

        YUP.

        I would never stop being friends with someone over their opinions on tax policy. Opinions on banning Muslims from our country though? We’re done!

        • I have certainly taken people’s position on tax policy into account when deciding if we can be friends. You want a flat tax? You otherwise prefer regressive taxation? You think rich people should get to keep “their” money that they “worked hard for”? Probably we can’t be friends.

          • I want to get rid of income tax, entirely, and just have a sales tax on all luxury items (note – food, tampons, medicine, and the like are not luxury items). Wear all the bling you want, and drive your fancy car, but you’ll pay more for it, and that will help fund the social services and safety net.

            Can we be friends?

          • Aris Merquoni said:

            Michelle C. Young: I have a fundamental objection to the idea that poor people have to pay a substantially higher percentage of their income in order to afford nice things, especially when a lot of those nice things–iPhones, microwaves, computers–are explicitly singled out as being things that poor people don’t deserve, but are actually pretty necessary in trying to live in the world today.

            I also think that a sales-tax-based economy wouldn’t work very well, on top of being an inherently regressive tax.

            I’m friends with people I disagree with on basic economic principles, but we tend to avoid the subject. We also tend not to be very close friends.

            But I will say this: I’m more likely to be friends with someone who has a plan which I think won’t work and I believe misses the point than I am with someone whose idea of tax policy is to parrot whatever Grover Norquist says on the day. I’d much rather debate or agree to disagree on the various merits of income vs. sales vs. whatever tax than listen to someone clapping for the tax cut fairy to stimulate the economy until it trickles down on my head.

        • TO_Ont said:

          I would certainly change my opinion of people based on their opinions on tax policy.

        • I have totally stopped being friends with people based on tax policy. Taxes are evil but fees are fine? Riiiiiiight.

          • Emmers said:

            But this is normal, garden variety “we just have different opinions” disagreement. Not “you’re subhuman and don’t deserve rights” disagreement. There’s a huge difference.

        • Emmers said:

          This this this! The nature of what counts as “politics” has shifted.

      • I really loathe this way of thinking, particularly because I hear people say this to POC all the time. I’m an Arab-American lesbian, so for me it’s less “differing politics” and more “you think I’m a deviant subhuman.”

        • Karen said:

          Totally random aside: There’s an amazing Australian Drag Queen with your user name. I am also named Karen, and I work in finance, and someone shared her Instagram, and it is delightful. Enjoy!

      • seaserpent said:

        Commenting for the first time to say that I recently unfriended someone for their very EDL/UKIP/BNPish views and actually received pushback from people because apparently being hurtful to racists is bad? Honestly if you can’t stop being friends with someone over their political (and by extension moral) values then what on Earth is a good reason? ‘Oh sure, Debra believes that POC are literally worth less as human beings but we do like the same films and that’s what counts!’ GET BETTER FRIENDS. FIND NON-RACIST PEOPLE WHO ALSO ENJOY MOVIES.

        • slythwolf said:

          My (white, middle class, straight, Christian-raised atheist) dad took way longer to leave his bigot-filled poker game than I would have and he was citing this kind of stuff as why he was staying, in the form of “he’s just really ignorant, he’s a really nice guy when you get to know him”, and at one point I finally said, Dad, they’re nice to YOU because you don’t fall into any of the categories they’re bigoted against. If you were not a straight white dude you would never have been INVITED to this poker game. And I could see the lightbulb go on.

      • BigDogLittleCat said:

        Damn straight I’ll stop being friends with someone over a political opinion. And it’s not even anything I chose to do. If I find out you hold political opinions that support policies and laws that actively hurt other people, encroach on their rights, deny their humanity, the you’re-a-person-I-like-and-want-to-be-with switch in my heart automatically flips to off.
        Sometimes it hurts when that switch is turned off, but it still turns off.

        • whingedrinking said:

          There seem to be people who really, truly do believe that a political party is the equivalent of a sports team – you root for the one that you like, probably the one your parents followed, you feel good when they win, but only a real jerk would refuse to date or hang out with someone just because they supported another team, right?

          • BigDogLittleCat said:

            Because yeah, uniform with brightly colored cartoon animal/uniform with white hood, same diff, right?

    • boutet said:

      Submitting a mystery link without comment. Certainly am not clicking on it ever. Some comment is useful, otherwise you might just be spam.

      • Neurite said:

        Search results for a (humorous?) song about someone realizing they’re dating a Nazi.

        • Jynnan_Tonnyx said:

          Which I found absolutely hilarious, but I do have a pretty dark sense of humour.

      • Alli525 said:

        Agreed – at best it could be a link that makes me say “hmm, interesting.” At best I have to take my smoking heap of a laptop to the Geek Squad and piteously beg for mercy.

        • Alli525 said:

          *at worst, for the second sentence. Caffeeeeeeeine, where aaaaaare youuuuuu?

        • Anon_For_This said:

          There you go – nice safe youtube link.

  4. lkeke35 said:

    How desperate for companionship, must you be, to date a Nazi? This kind of desperation not to be alone is just one of the many things society pressures people into.

    • Temperance said:

      One of my cousins dated a white supremacist for a period of time, and had a baby with him. In my cousin’s case, she’s frankly not that smart, she was 16 or 17 when she met the guy, and she found out that he was a Skinhead after she got pregnant. He went to jail for … something violent, I don’t remember what.

      I also don’t think that racism was a deal-breaker for her, because at that point in her life, she didn’t know any POC. We’re from a pretty rural, majority white area, which isn’t really an excuse, since frankly most of my family was pretty pissy about her shit life choices.

    • johann7 said:

      Social pressure is definitely a big part of the problem. That said, even if we had a society that didn’t elevate monogamous partnered romantic relationships above other possibilities, we’d still have plenty of people that desperate for a romantic relationship. A lack of intimacy, emotional or physical, can feel extremely isolating and miserable, even if one otherwise has strong social bonds.

      I know that while I face very little direct pressure to be romantically partnered and concluded long ago that a bad relationship is worse than no relationship, I still do feel devastatingly lonely sometimes despite having a great social support network, as I tend to go long stretches between dating people (I think it’s presently been five or six years, and two or three years before that person. I don’t think it justifies dating a loteral Nazi, but I’ve definitely stayed in unhealthy relationships as a result of emotional needs I had no other way of meeting. It’s not just, and in some cases maybe not even, a function of social pressure to be partnered; a big part is also a function of a society that prioritizes things like hierarchical status, competition, and profitable exploitation (to name just a few things) over structures that support people’s emotional and psychological well-being.

  5. policychick said:

    Color me judgmental but – anyone who ascribes to Nazism is a stone cold racist. And dangerous. And unbalanced. I’m not sure how else you could interpret it. The fact that we are even discussing this is just…I don’t even know.

    • Leonine said:

      That’s not judgmental, that’s just pretty much…what a Nazi is? That’s…what they say they are? Why would you apologize for calling a Nazi racist? That’s like apologizing for calling a Christian religious or a person who doesn’t eat meat a vegetarian. That’s just…what they are. The word “racist” is not an insult or a slur. It’s the word for a person who believes that some races of people are inherently inferior to others. People act like calling someone a racist is like calling them an asshole. This weakens the word and confuses the issue. Calling someone a racist when they do racist things, like hanging up a Confederate flag, is more like seeing someone toss salt over their shoulder and calling them superstitious. It’s not an insult. It’s just the word for what they are.

    • I’m going to take exception to the word “unbalanced,” considering how the nazis feel about mentally ill people

      • Amphelise said:

        You can be mentally ill in one way while dangerously despising everyone who is mentally ill in any other way, Nazi or no.

        • Hrovitnir said:

          Yes, but the point is being an awful person =/ being mentally ill, and that comment continuously being the go-to for scary people is actively harmful.

          • sistercoyote said:

            +1

          • DesertRose said:

            Thank you. I get so tired of people all over the internet using “mentally ill”/”crazy”/”unbalanced”/[insert other term for mentally ill here] to modify “person” in a way that means (or at the very least implies) that all people with mental illness are ticking time bombs who are just one step away from murdering everyone in a fifty-mile radius.

            As a person with mental illness severe enough that I’m disabled because of it, and as someone who has never been a danger to anyone but myself, and as someone who’s gotten this attitude off strangers AND off people who’ve known me for decades, It Gets Really Fucking Old.

  6. Kat G, Ph.D. said:

    “But like, everyone’s entitled to their opinion! Freeze peaches! People who hate Nazis are the REAL bigots here!” –The Internet, all too often

    Seriously, though, Nazis can GTFO.

  7. In the UK, men particularly are being targeted by groups that form a socially acceptable front for far right Nazi hate groups, who can’t operate in plain sight. Ex cons and other isolated/disadvantaged men are often persuaded into what appears to be camps focusing on martial arts, hiking, mens rights spaces etc. As this draws men in, they are tested for how susceptible they are to hate crimes and Nazi ideology. It’s making Nazism and far right politics harder to spot because on the surface, it looks like a bunch of air softing, camping, macho male bonding. Groups like the British Movement and the British National Party are becoming active again.

    Nazism and racism is abhorrent in all it’s forms. I have met people who own controversial items like flags who are using it as a shorthand for acting non conformist, or an expression of anger at the establishment. When challenged, they have argued that they aren’t supportive of what Hitler did, but rather, they have racist grievances and distrust of the system. The rhetoric of final solutions and swarming migrants is all over our mainstream media and has become, sadly, normalised. I feel as though people have lost the inhibitions and a sense of how horrific the murder of millions during Hitlers time was.

    I say this not to say that racist people should be excused or included in daily life AT ALL. I can see how an ex con might be a target of the kind of hateful group who aim to exploit those who are disadvantaged and lacking in community and who thrive on confusion. That lost soul quality might be what this woman is attracted to, and that might be why she is sticking around despite the flag and other evidence.

    I’ve successfully challenged dudes who thoughtlessly felt like racist symbology might make them seem tough and express their ire. They generally don’t appreciate the reality of that adopting that ideology until confronted. Others are far right ‘activists’ who are dangerous and disgusting. I hope this woman is safe.

    • Cyberwulf said:

      I almost wish The History Channel would go back to being The Hitler Channel (instead of The Aliens Clearly Visited Earth Because Non-White PreChristian Civilisations Couldn’t Have Built All These Monuments By Themselves Channel). People are starting to forget and that’s worrying.

      On the positive side, when the English Defense League turned up in Manchester after the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in the hopes of churning up support for their racist ideology, Mancunians told them to fuck off. France and the Netherlands both recently had the opportunity to elect a far right candidate, and didn’t. People are still generally good.

      • Ganymede said:

        Even right-wing Austria managed to claw itself back from electing a fascist. It was close.

      • Dutchie in disguise said:

        Although the extreme right wing party indeed didn’t got to be the largest party, they still came second. The party that came out largest adopted a lot of their language and proposals.

        All in all I am not that reassured.

      • Wow. This makes me miss the History Channel so much less, now. I had no idea, but I haven’t seen it in years.

        I love my YouTube documentaries.

    • Indoor Cat said:

      Assuming the sister doesn’t also have Nazi ideology (I haven’t read the article in question), I do feel for her. It is a strange impulse, but in a way, understandable to me? The notion that you can be someone’s moral savior AND have a dangerous / sexy romance is incredibly appealing, especially if you already have low self-esteem. You get to cast yourself in a role that’s both heroic and feminine (because it’s nurturing), and there are a lot of external factors and media portrayals that reinforce the idea that a villain can be changed by the love of a woman.

      And maybe (this is a lot of conjecture, obviously) she’s read a lot of Ex-neo-nazi / ex-westboro-baptist articles like these: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/life-after-hate-groups-neo-fascism-racism

      I respect these article writers and activists a great deal. But, I do worry about some of my friends who seems to read a lot of them without grasping a lot of the nuance. They hear what they want to hear, which is, “I can change him.”

      And the harsh reality that, no, you really can’t, doesn’t sink in until they’re already hurt. Sometimes multiple times.

      And…I don’t know what to do about that. Maybe Captain Awkward’s script would really, really work! Sometimes tough love is helpful!

      It’s just that, sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes the “tough love” conversation only alienates that person. So…yeah, I guess this is why I don’t write an advice column, because I really don’t know what to do in this situation.

    • ashbet said:

      I just was reading an article about how the racist “alt-right” recruits men who feel disenfranchised:

      “Most white men who become radicalized into the alt-right start out in search of some like-minded friends.

      Though various branches of the movement are often at odds with one another, they share a number of core beliefs — and a common meme-flavored vernacular — that serve to unite them in what is sometimes called “the manosphere.” This realm includes the “men’s rights” movement, pickup artist culture (a community of men also labeled “PUAs” that essentially makes a game of the art of bedding women), “incels” (men who are “involuntarily celibate” because they feel women reject them), and geek gatekeepers like supporters of the Gamergate movement.

      On the surface, PUA communities and incel communities have a lot of generic appeal: The PUA lifestyle emphasizes self-esteem and confidence building along with physical health, while the incel community allows men to bond over their struggle to achieve all of the above in spite of their sour luck with women. Meanwhile, gamers and geeks habitually tout the importance of gaming in providing social interaction for young men.

      These spaces foster the kind of male friendship whose importance doesn’t get a lot of attention in the real world. But the benefits of their existence are often accompanied (and sometimes negated) by their tendency to instill in their members a newfound articulation of fundamental anxiety over their position as men in a society where women are actively seeking empowerment.

      And in building its membership from so many different communities of white men who ultimately feel threatened and rejected by women, the movement promotes a sense of male entitlement that is easily radicalized into white nationalism and white supremacy.

      In many alt-right communities, men are encouraged to view women as sexual and/or political targets that men must dominate. The men in these communities don’t see themselves as sexist; they see themselves as fighting against their own emasculation and sexual repression at the hands of strident feminists.”

      https://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/14/13576192/alt-right-sexism-recruitment?utm_campaign=vox&utm_content=entry&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

      • M Dubz said:

        And this is why intersectionalism.

        • ashbet said:

          *nods* Agreed!

        • Emmers said:

          Intersectionality like “classism matters too,” right?

          I’ve started to see people (deliberate detractors?) use it to mean “you can only pick one identity-bearing feature for yourself,” and that seems terrifying and backward.

          • queenbeemimi said:

            Wilder things have happened than words accidentally taking on the total opposite of what they’re supposed to mean, but I think “intersectionality” still means “multiple aspects of identity matter and these are complex issues”

          • Emmers said:

            Ok, phew!

      • S said:

        I also particularly found the discussion of “Racism as the new porn” at this cracked article enlightening.

        http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-reasons-were-quietly-letting-racists-win/

        It’s something we don’t let people talk about, so it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. It’s shamed into going away, but that’s not how you make an idea go away. You make it go away by exposing it.

      • n.b. said:

        I was recently told by a politically conservative man that when women wear revealing clothing in front of men who are expected to not touch, that it “emasculates” men.

        He was basically arguing that women have to dress to the modesty specs of all rando men they meet or be available for sexual assault by any rando man they meet. Bizarrely, this person also worships at the altar of personal responsibility. (Including that there is no systemic racism and that unfettered free market capitalism without safety nets or regulations is the only system that develops manly character.)

        Knowing his emphasis on personal responsibility, I asked if he was seriously making women responsible for men’s actions and masculinity? Couldn’t men just take care of being men without women being responsible for both femininity and manhood? That put some brakes on the discussion but I was left wondering…

        Your comment on such men not seeing themselves as sexist, but as fighting emasculation and sexual repression, hit the nail on the head. I had never heard “Forbidden by Law to Commit Sexual Assault” referred to as “emasculated” and I’ve been really disturbed by it since.

        I know this person has no exposure to or connection with internet alt-right communities, though. Are they talking like that on conservative talk radio?!

        • Awesome Person said:

          my guess is he gets it from his religious community.

  8. tanya said:

    My best friend once dated a Nazi. Although he claimed he wasn’t one, that he just liked collecting memorabilia, and that Hitler did some good things. She didn’t leave, wound up having a child with him due to reproductive coercion, whereupon he got overtly abusive, and is now a single mom dealing with parental alienation and abuse from her ex, who doesn’t even pay child support. If you won’t leave because Nazis are gross, leave because the kind of thinking that allows one to be a Nazi is strongly correlated with being an abusive shit.

    • Karen said:

      “..he just liked collecting memorabilia”

      I once met a guy who was into Civil War reenactments. I’m a history nerd, and assumed it was like the Society for Creative Anachronism or RenFaire kinda stuff.

      No, it’s a bunch of white guys who like to dress up in Confederate gear and talk about owning slaves. Deeply uncomfortable, and a person I quickly stopped contacting.

      • Emmers said:

        Oh shit, I’ve never met that kind of reenactor. Yuck.

    • OH, yeah. Hitler did some good things. He built some roads.

      Wait. So did a whole heck of a lot of other people, and they didn’t have to become mass murderers to do it.

      I think Hitler forfeited his cookies for those roads. Also, I’ve ridden on one, and it was really bumpy.

      • Friendly Hipposcriff said:

        People talk about roads and railways as if they were civilian features, rather than improving mass troop transport. The NSDAP also encouraged people to declutter their attics and cellars (because that stuff burns in case of air attacks) and to have blackout curtains for every window.

        In 1934. I rest my case.

  9. BetterInGreen said:

    Simply flabbergasted by this.

    And in the spirit of your last line, mon Capitaine, I will share this.

    I went on a semi-blind date years ago that was rather uncomfortable due to the guy being weirdly aggressive in his attitude to EVERYTHING… like he was constantly starting an argument with the world, you know?

    We had to go past his house to pick something up, and on the way there in the taxi I referenced his Irish background as something we had in common, looking for a topic he would discuss more happily. (This did not take place in Ireland.)

    He berated me on how all (Irish) southerners, Catholics, and republicans (a LOT of overlap, but not completely the same) were scum and should be wiped out like the traitors they are to the glorious Crown. So, my family is from the south west of Ireland, Catholics, and pro-republic…. and when I pointed this out, thinking maybe he had his head so far up his backside that it hadn’t occurred to him other people were from different backgrounds. He shrugged and said “haha I guess no one’s perfect, maybe you will rise above them.”
    :O
    By which time we were at his house, and he opened the front door. From outside I could see on the foyer wall a giant, 6ft high, Red Hand of Ulster.

    Yeah. Good night.

    Ps: I am aware that the Red Hand wasn’t always the symbol of violent extreme unionist groups, but it’s been appropriated by them long enough that it makes a statement about the person akin to the confederate flag in the USA, or the swastika anywhere.

    • queenbeemimi said:

      The swastika wasn’t always a symbol of violent extreme groups either, but it sure as shit is now, so it’s a hard red flag about someone, not a yellow one for further consideration.

      • BetterInGreen said:

        Absolutely agreed!

      • ReanaZ said:

        LITERAL RED FLAGS. RUN.

      • thathat said:

        I got in a debate with someone on a friend’s facebook page about how the swastika isn’t *always* a bad thing, and is *actually* a symbol of good fortune, and that his (white) Hindu girlfriend (who is “one of the first white people to have ascended to Hinduism” or something, according to her guru) has several jewelry items with the swastika that she wears, because it’s so meaningful to her or something.

        To which I say–if you are a white person and you grew up in the United States or any Western Culture and you did NOT grow up in a Hindi household (which is pretty unlikely, since iirc, Hinduism is a fairly closed religion), and you still choose to openly wear swastikas…you are being cruel. That is the only word for it. You know FULL WELL what people will think, specifically what people belonging to marginalized and targeted groups will think. You KNOW that you are causing them fear, even if you want to be all high and mighty (like he did) about how that’s just ~their fault for being so close-minded.~

        As far as I’m concerned, if you are a white person in the US and you’re wearing a swastika, for any reason (beyond, I dunno, being in a production of Cabaret or Sound of Music), then you are behaving like a garbage person and I want nothing to do with you. There are other Hindu symbols you can use. (And whether or not you should is a whole ‘nother discussion)

        • Pear said:

          Thank you so much for this!

          The swastika isn’t in abundant use in my specific cultural heritage, but it is much more commonly used in other Buddhist and Hindu countries in ways which mostly do not resemble the Nazi flag.

          But I, and other diaspora, feel uncomfortable about most iterations of the swastika in the west, and keenly understand why other people feel deeply uncomfortable; we know that we, living in the west, have a duty to relinquish its use. Even as PoC. Even if it’s part of our heritage. Maybe in very specific, well-defined spaces and contexts (e.g. weddings and other ceremonies where most participants understand its use), but never ever ever just everyday in decor or tattoos.

          I’ve discussed this with a friend of South Asian heritage who understands that, even though his culture originated the swastika, this symbol cannot be used casually. We do this as an expression of solidarity with Jewish people and acknowledgement of the simple, straightforward fact that whoever uses it also means us harm.

          When I see a swastika used by white people, my first thought is not, ‘Well…. maybe they’re just super religious!’ – and bearing in mind I’m Buddhist person of Thai heritage with a background in Asian art history with a religious focus (not that the details should matter). I haven’t seen other PoC insist on using it; it’s only ever, in my experience, been white people, whether they’re unapologetic nazis or the crunchier kind of racist.

          Tangentially: a friend-of-a-friend said that she was getting a triskele tattoo because it was a cool symbol of cultural heritage, and I said that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea because it actually was a nazi symbol, linking to the database of hate symbols to back up my claim. And she got really defensive and tried to make me look foolish because she meant the swirly triskele. It’s always people like that who try to bait you…

          Basically: what do they get out of playing ‘gotcha!’ with people over whether or not they’re a nazi??? It’s so gross!

          • Emmers said:

            This is so well said.

          • Linda Lupos said:

            Uhm, hang on, the triskele is a hate symbol? I was thinking of getting one as a tattoo myself (the one found on the kerbstone at Newgrange, Ireland) but if it’s a hate symbol I might have to reconsider…

          • JenniferP said:

            It didn’t start that way, but Nazis ruin EVERYTHING.

            https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/triskele

            Say you got the non-hatey version (which exists – it’s the round-edged swirly kind). If someone saw it and mistook it for the hatey version, and judged you accordingly, would you be like “man, you’re so unfair? quit suppressing my heritage.” (No, I’m thinking no, you would not do that).

          • Linda Lupos said:

            … GDI. I’m Dutch too so the South African connection makes it look even worse. 😦 Stupid Nazis. I liked how the triskele looked and I loved Newgrange when I visited it, and now they’ve ruined it.

            Thanks for enlightning me, at any rate. 🙂

          • Pear said:

            @Linda Lupos: It depends on the type of triskele 🙂 Most are absolutely fine! Any of the swirly ones are lovely (e.g. those found in Celtic art), but if any are sharp and hard-edged, they were used by (or evoke) actual historical nazis or neo-nazis. The ADL has a great page on this and other hate symbols.

            Visually, you can immediately tell the difference between the nazi triskele and the Celtic ones, so they don’t need explanation–it’s obvious they mean very different things. It’s only if you skimp on verbal description, like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get a triskele tattoo!’ with no further (or indignant) clarification that little alarm bells are set off.

            It’s a similar kind of difference to how skull-and-crossbones imagery can be completely harmless… or it can be a totenkopf. I used to be apart of some alternative fashion LJ comms and there was drama over a photoshoot where the model wore her own jewelry–which just happened to be a tiny skull pin that was nazi memorabilia. It was not good :\

            tl;dr: you and your tattoo plans are all good, gentle curly swirly Celtic triskeles are not fash and it’s very clear when they are angry bad racist triskele. I hope that was a bit clearer and more reassuring!

          • JenniferP said:

            Thank you for the detailed information!

          • Linda Lupos said:

            @Pear – Thanks! That is reassuring. My reasoning behind getting a triskele tat wasn’t just because I loved Newgrange when I visited it, but also because the idea/symbolism of the triskele/trinity appears in so many cultures/religions, and as a Religious Studies major that appealed to me. I was definitely going to err more on the side of the swirly/Celtic triskele, so I’m glad that one is ‘safe’.

            I’m actually also glad I learned about this other meaning as well. If someone DOES take it that way, I won’t be blindsided and be able to explain my reasoning without getting defensive (the BDSM community also uses a triskele as a symbol so I was already considering having to explain I don’t mean that, either!). So thanks!

        • DesertRose said:

          After the end of WWII, a number of leaders of the Navajo Nation got together and decided that they would stop using a symbol that had long been used in Navajo art and symbolism, because it looked too much like a swastika, and too much harm had been done under the banner of the swastika, and as a people who knew firsthand what it is to be on the receiving end of attempted genocide, they were just not going to use that symbol anymore.

          And guess what? If you see that swastika-looking symbol on any Navajo artwork, chances are fair to good that you’re looking at a piece that was made before about 1946 or so, because Navajo artists quit using the fucking thing, even though it wasn’t exactly a swastika–it just looked a lot like one, and they as a people chose to drop the symbol rather than perpetuate harm

          It’s not that fucking hard. It really just isn’t.

  10. Willow said:

    Maybe the sister likes the Nazi mindset and agenda. And that’s a whole nother kind of YIKES!!

  11. meadowphoenix said:

    Look, setting aside the THEY ARE FUCKING NAZIS part, because I feel like people have commented on that pretty well.

    Also. Nazis, white supremacists, people who advocated for genocide of marginalized groups? Hate women. They hate women. Their contempt for women on average is above the general contempt for women that permeates our society. They may like having sex with women, but they are not generally fond of women having autonomy. I am never ever surprised that these particular people come up on domestic violence charges, because they are open about their hatred of women. They are certainly not the only people who hate women and there may be people who hate women even more, but dating them seems like a greater risk for a woman than dating any random dude.

    • Jane said:

      Accurate. The only value that white supremacists put on white women is as incubators for white babies.

    • Yep. They are now talking about implementing “White Sharia,” in order to force white women to breed little pure-blood white babies for the next Nazi generation.

      • whingedrinking said:

        Not that this is a revelation to anyone, but – “We have to abuse and control women, be intolerant of other religions, and kill and torture our enemies, to keep ourselves safe from those people over there who abuse and control women, are intolerant of other religions, and kill and torture their enemies.”

  12. Andie said:

    Today on “Things that really shouldn’t have to be spelled out, yet here we are…”

  13. Raluca Enescu said:

    I had an interesting discussion a while ago about unfriending people on Facebook for posting racist or homophobic shit. On the one hand – by sticking around I know at least they’ll have someone telling them “Dude, seriously, what the actual fuck, that is seriously unacceptable” from time to time instead of a perfect echo chamber of validation, and I can keep an eye out if they’re actually harassing anyone /bad enough to be reported. On the other hand – you know, they’re posting racist shit and I don’t want to have anything to do with posters of racist shit.

    Ultimately, the reason why I unfriended a bunch of them, or at least never allowed them to post on my wall /deleted their comments from my posts, was that I have Facebook friends who are ethnic minorities /Rroma /Muslim /Jewish/Black /trans /etc. I might occasionally have the stomach for “don’t let the nasties grow unchecked”, but they shouldn’t have to. Not from my Facebook wall.

    Perhaps OP could use a similar line of reasoning with her sister to enforce a strict “Don’t bring Nazi Dude to my house or any social gathering where I’m present, ever”?

  14. RiverSongTam said:

    This is the only right way to respond to any Nazi paraphernalia

    • Jennifer said:

      That’s awesome – thanks for posting! 🙂

      • RiverSongTam said:

        At your service *tips her plumed hat*

    • stellanor said:

      The nazi flag letter in that column completely vanished from my memory due to the hilarity of the “my friend bought my dream stove WHY DOESN’T SHE UNDERSTAND WHY I’M MAD?” question, which brings me great joy by being so low-stakes and non-political in this miserably shitty-politics-saturated time.

    • Sadly, the two stories are completely different, which means there are multiple people out there getting sucked into relationships with Nazis.

  15. Rhoda said:

    I see people sucked into this ideology as frightened little people who feel helpless. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that someone who feels they have some control over their life isn’t as likely to be sucked into the idea that there’s some mysterious “they” controlling things behind the scenes.
    In that respect, I think Nazi supporters and other such groups aren’t so very different from the conspiracy theorists who blather on and on about how this event or another is a “false flag event”.
    Come to think of it, Don’t Date Conspiracy Theorists is another good rule to live by.

    • queenbeemimi said:

      I’m not inclined to be so compassionate as to attribute such gentle motives to Fucking Nazis (or to Nazi Fuckers for that matter) but you made me laugh in delight with your last sentence.

      • S said:

        It’s only by understanding them and why they are the way they are that we can help them. Don’t think of empathy or understanding as compassion, think of it as strategy.

        • aebhel said:

          This. Nazis and white supremacists are assholes, but they’re assholes who chose these kinds of ideologies for a reason, and a lot of these groups use similar recruiting tactics to cults: target people who are in some way isolated or vulnerable, make them feel good, give them an Enemy to hate and blame for all their problems, give them a Glorious Mission, etc.

          It doesn’t mean that they aren’t morally responsible for, you know, joining a genocidal cult, but I think it’s really important to understand why and how it happens so we can work toward preventing it before it happens.

      • Rhoda said:

        I could sort of see how it happened the first time around. The Weimar republic really messed up the currency, inflation was running wild, people were frightened. This, in a time when anti-semitism, racism and eugenics were viewed as perfectly logical beliefs, in a culture which valued conformity and obedience… it must have seemed like a valid option for at least some people at that time. Enough to vote them into power.
        Even the Nazi contempt for women was an outcome of WW1 – Germany lost about 1/3 of it’s men under the age of 30 in that war, so some men may have started feeling outnumbered and threatened.
        But now, with hindsight? Oh, hell no. People should absolutely know better now.

    • Saturnalia said:

      “Don’t Date Conspiracy Theorists is another good rule to live by.”

      Gotta amp this one. TW abuse the remainder of the comment.

      My abuser didn’t believe the earth was round (had never been in an airplane to *see* it, and how dare I lord my more secure financial background over him that I have taken flights), fully believed in lizard people who secretly controlled society, etc. His paranoia seeped into basically everything, it was a constant uphill battle convincing him I wasn’t part of all those people working against him, and oh yeah – I was withholding money from the relationship by not maxing out my credit cards; didn’t I understand how loans worked?

      I mean, not every conspiracy theorist starts yelling and using bodily force when presented with compelling facts to the contrary, but I feel like it’s probably more than this one dude?

  16. How do you know they aren’t the same people?

    • Rhoda said:

      Oh, they probably are. No question.

  17. S said:

    I 100% agree with the script here, except, then I know exactly how this story goes. (And so do we all.)

    Sister who is not dating a Nazi – “LOOK AT YOUR LIFE SISTER!”

    Sister who is making poor life choices – “Uhm, Excuse me where do YOU get OFF I’ll date WHOEVER I want you can’t tell me what to do.” (Proceeds to date Nazi asshole for FAR longer than she would of if she hadn’t had to defend him to her sister.)

    We know because we’ve seen it happen over and over. And because once you’ve defended someone to a family member you have defended them to yourself. Cutting her sister out of her life for dating a Nazi is probably only going to make her like the Nazi more.

    If she wants to be done with her sister, she should just be done. Making it about her current boyfriend is only going to make the current boyfriend more, not less appealing in the long run. And she for sure shouldn’t want that for her sister.

    • I was going to say the same thing. IME, people tend to dig in their heels when loved ones call them out on their shitty choices. Idk if this would even be an option for her, but I would suggest going no-contact or at lest drastically limiting contact.

      • S said:

        Yeah, unfortunately the road to questioning racist beliefs doesn’t start at the point where someone calls you a racist. It is however MUCH more satisfying for non racists.

  18. thebearpelt said:

    “GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD”

    I’m honestly starting to hate seeing this phrase or phrases like “in the year of our lord” because it’s so heavily Christian and, in a topic about Nazis, seeing such Christian-focused language really makes me feel like Jews like me have been forgotten about.

    • I dunno, in this context “get right with the Lord” sounds pretty righteously Jewish to me:)

      • thebearpelt said:

        I mean, I guess, but I almost always associate phrases with stuff like “The Lord” or “Our Savior” as inherently Christian. So it just makes me feel like whoever’s writing something forgets we can even be part of the audience, yknow?

        “In the year of our lord” definitely bothers me way more tho. Not my lord. -_-

        • I can see how it pings you that way, though in this particular context I think the chances of the captain forgetting we are part of the audience are slim…I personally find “in the year of our lord” consistently amusing, since I tend to run into it in these kinds of socially aware blogs where it’s being deployed tongue firmly in cheek, but perhaps I have the advantage of not having encountered similar language in other more triggery contexts. Side note: we have the patent on “our Lord!” and also, technically, on nice Jewish boy Jesus:)

    • Jane said:

      ergh. It’s weird, because while I love the cadences of that particular phrase (“GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD”), I’m also 90% sure it’s appropriated AAVE, or something that neighbors on appropriation. That is not a phrase I have ever heard out of a white pastor’s mouth, unless he was consciously imitating the style of Black church oration.

      Which . . . like . . . American English (and indeed, many other dialects of English) is rife with AAVE expressions that were borrowed without credit or recognition. I’m not totally sure what the best way to deal with that is.

      • thebearpelt said:

        Huh, I wasn’t even aware of that. (But then again, I don’t know a lot of specific things about Xtianity. Idk, I feel like I don’t know enough to comment further than saying “wow awkward”.

  19. Am i the only one who feels that the phrase “Don’t date Nazis” should just be implied? Like… don’t run in the street or don’t staple lunch meat to yourself and run through a lion cage yelling “lunchtime!”

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      The first thought that went through my head was, “there needs to be a rule?”

    • Jane said:

      no. you are not.

      I guess I don’t see how people who are chill about dating nazis think nazi-related interactions, on the average, turn out.

      Like, if the sister in this case is saying to herself, “My Nazi boyfriend cares about me! He hasn’t said anything terrible or done anything bad to me!”

      The answer is always going to be: “. . .yet.”

      • it’s the whole “you can be nice to me but if you’re mean to the waiter we’re through.” type deal. i’d extend that to “You’re nice to me but you fully support a regieme that endorses genocide.”

        There are forgivable flaws. Don’t get me wrong. Maybe they own a copy of Joe Dirt. Maybe they made one offhand comment that they didn’t know was racist/transphobic/homophobic/whatever and you correct them. (and they never say that comment again.)

        But I feel that the Nazi flag is literally a giant red flag. I’m not being cute. It’s a red flag with a white circle and it represents some of the worst things we have ever done as humanity, and if it’s ever shown it should be to make the point: This is the worst thing anyone has done, don’t do it again. The second you say “hey, they weren’t all wrong…” no. They were. I pride myself in being able to see things from many different perspectives, even if i don’t agree with it, or think you’re wrong. I never once said, “Hey, those people are different let’s kill them.”

        I’m sorry, but if you watch Indiana Jones and your first thought is, “Wow, why is that archeologist being so mean to those guys” we can’t be friends.

        • I do think we have to say “they weren’t all bad”, but not for the reason you might think.
          We don’t show pictures of Hitler as a man petting a dog and smiling to show that Hitler was an okay dude. We do it to show that people who pet dogs and smile are entirely capable of NOT being okay dudes. That if we start treating the Nazis as some sort of freak occurrence of total monsters who ate kitten sandwiches in between shifts at concentration camps, then we start feeling like “I would never barbecue Fluffy, therefore I’m a good person and I couldn’t possibly do bad things.” We need to remember that the Holocaust was perpetrated by human beings – not to cut them slack, but to remember that as long as there are human beings, it could happen again. There is nothing so terribly different between Us and Them, and that does not speak well of Us.

          • Saturnalia said:

            The human ability to justify one’s actions as necessary in context has always kind of terrified me. That so many can embrace or ignore the cognitive dissonance. I have *many* thoughts on this and have based some major life stuff on my terror of finding myself in a position where I’ve justified not-okay shit to myself.

            Cause like, after a day’s work torturing children, some of these dudes went home to their families and kissed their kids while tucking them in. My brain just melts…

          • BigDogLittleCat said:

            THIS. SO MUCH THIS.
            Demonizing the perpetrators of atrocity, making them inhuman monsters, absolves humanity and releases it from being responsible for making sure it doesn’t happen again.

            The people who voted Hitler into power were not all raging evil psychopaths. For the most part they were ordinary people who were frustrated and unhappy and afraid, and willingly swallowed increasingly vile propaganda and lies because their own self-interest outweighed any concern for anyone else.

          • Jane said:

            sure. but there’s also a very high overlap between dudes who are cool with burning crosses and dudes who are cool with abusing their partners. it is okay to take a pragmatic approach and say, “eh, I am just going to use this whole nazi flag business as a litmus test for someone who is dangerous to people at large, including me.” like: just because he’s a super normal guy and his horrific violent racism is also super normal doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time thinking about whether you’re going to date him.

          • Aris Merquoni said:

            Jane: I think that’s totally right! But I think it’s normal to have cognitive dissonance about people who we like or who seem nice or are otherwise share our views. It’s a reminder that if you have a nice date with someone who brings you home to their big ol’ Nazi flag collection, the answer should never be “therefore he must have a reasonable explanation for this,” it’s “plenty of nice-seeming people are actually horrible, drop like hot rock, back away slowly and then progressively more rapidly until you have reached highway speeds and then merge smoothly onto Nope Expressway.”

          • Jane said:

            @Aris Merquoni: we are in agreement!

      • whingedrinking said:

        It’s a variant on “he doesn’t hit me”. We expect every person over the age of four to know that Hitting Is Bad and We Don’t Do That. You should avoid standing at a bus stop with someone who might decide to hit you. People who get to see you naked should have a higher bar to clear.

        • BigDogLittleCat said:

          And the accompanying message of, “as long as he doesn’t do anything bad to *me* I don’t have to think about his murderous world view.”

          Dating a Nazi might not make you a Nazi, but it means you’re okay with Nazism.

  20. Nazi flag (or Confederate) hanging on the wall is a big bad sign. Nazi (or Confederate) paraphernalia, on the other hand, does not have to be. My Grandpa fought the Nazis, and he had his war trophies. If you live in the South, it’s quite possible that some old families will have their great-great’s sword or what-have-you hanging around.

    The difference, I think, lies in how it is displayed. For example, if it’s put away, and brought out now and again to show the kids, as visual aids in a history lesson, that is fine. If it’s hanging on the wall in a place of honor, that is problematic.

    I do think it’s possible to use your words and ask about the flag/sword/paraphernalia. “What is that, and why is it hanging in a spot of honor?” If the answer is “My Great-great-Grandpappy took it as a war trophy” then it’s OK. However, if you’re in a relationship with the person, you might follow that up with a discussion of optics. “You might want to shift it, because it looks like you’re glorifying The Cause, and not your Great-Great, who helped defeat it.”

    Sometimes, people just don’t get it, and deserve the chance to explain and/or fix the situation. However, if they 1) don’t accept the chance or 2) actually are Nazis/Confederate wannabes, then leave them alone. Even if they’re not N/Cs, if you tell them that they are making a mistake in displaying it that way, and they don’t listen to you, why waste your time on them, anyway?

    • Come to think of it, I never even found out about my Grandpa’s war trophies until years after his death, and I never did see them. Because, DUDE, you do not display these things over the mantlepiece.

    • Temperance said:

      I actually don’t see the difference, and why “war trophies” make having Confederate or Nazi items in your house okay. It’s not. They belong in a museum.

      Glorifying the Confederacy is glorifying treason and is anti-American.

      • My Grampa’s Nazi trophies weren’t glorifying the Nazis. They were glorifying surviving and winning. As in, “This is the Hitler Youth knife the doctor removed from my back. I’m ALIVE! And that jerk is not.” Which freaked me out when I heard the story, because it means my Grampa killed a teenager, but also that a teenager tried to kill my Grampa, and just UGH.

        But again, he did not display this stuff. I was over at his house loads of times, and never even aware of it until after he died. After he was dead, my father wanted to put the stuff in a museum, but my uncle got the collection, instead.

        Some of the Confederate stuff I have seen, specifically of the “This belonged to my great-great” variety is actually “this is the only thing we have left that belonged to my great-great” so they keep it, regardless of their feelings about the Confederacy.

        I’ve actually met a few former Nazis (years ago, when I was small), and they had repented and done what they could to make amends. They had been sucked into it, because the political situation was what it was. Sometimes, they appeared to go along, and worked behind the scenes to help people. Other times, they just got caught up in it, until they came to their senses. See the “Are we the baddies?” video on Youtube. When I knew them, they were some of the most compassionate, caring, nonjudgmental people I knew. Some of them kept mementos, as reminders of not to go there again.

        Sometimes, it really is about the people, and not the cause. Sometimes it’s about memories. But optics are important, and you have to be careful how you display (or don’t) that stuff.

        So, my point is, the problem is not the objects, per se. It’s how they are treated and displayed.

        Hanging a Nazi flag on your wall is a literal red flag for any sort of a relationship. Finding it in a trunk in the attic, on the other hand, is a cause to ask questions, and gain a better understanding of the people involved.

        • Rhoda said:

          My husband visited a French Resistance museum in France one year that had a huge Nazi flag hanging up that had been taken as a trophy. It was all he could do to resist the urge to spit on it. His father came back from WW2, but the fathers of some of his friends did not.

    • JenniferP said:

      Having the family’s old sword or whatever in the house, or the war trophies in the attic, etc. is different from “O hai, it’s 2017, I am a young man decorating my room, I think I’ll hang a Nazi flag, it will really bring the room together.”

  21. I actually kind of appreciate it when people fly Confederate flags. Then I know to avoid them like the plague. Otherwise,

    • Otherwise, I might talk to them or something!

      • Yes, sometimes I am truly grateful when someone shows me who they are, so that I can believe them. Especially if they do it early in the relationship, and I don’t have to waste much time before I discover they are to be avoided.

        Sometimes, I’ll meet a “Mean Girl” type, and when she gets all nasty to me, instead of being hurt and offended, I say, “Thank you!” and mean it, and walk away. Blows her mind, because she doesn’t understand why I’m grateful, nor why I’m not letting her get under my skin. I’m not that invested, yet, because she blew her cover too early. It’s great! I’m thinking of one in particular right now, and can’t even remember her name.

    • aebhel said:

      I see the occasional people flying Confederate flags in my hometown… which is in Upstate NY. Sure, tell me it’s about heritage!

      • vvwolfe said:

        How is it about heritage in NY, I mean it is super lame reasoning even in the south but it is totally mind boggling stupidity coming from people in the north. the north was on the union side so shouldn’t their heritage be the union flag(as it was then?)

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