Support your Local Nazi Hunter

Dear Joel,

Can’t bring yourself to slug a Nazi?

If you want to get out of the tension between worrying about antifa’s tactics, do your part to support the fight against fascism. You already know what it is.

Work on justice, and antics will recede–at least until we drift near fascism again.

Sincerely,

Rebecca

antif flag burning

Above, an antifascist activist burns a “Thin Blue Line” flag. If this upsets you, think about what it means that some officers and their Blue Lives Matter supporters have their own flag, which desecrates the US flag according to the US flag code. Oh, and that thin blue line in the image–it represents the police officers who stand between us and anarchy. Feeling a little worried yet about police authoritarianism? 

My “antifa” conundrum

Dear Rebecca:

pacifism

One thing about being Mennonite: It offers clarity. Violence is the wrong answer, always, no matter the question.

I’m a quasi-lapsed, quasi-worshipful Mennonite these days. It’s complicated. And it complicates how I’m viewing the events in Charlottesville and its aftermath.

See, I’m not a fan of the billy-club wielding “antifa” crews. And I strongly suspect that folks who rely on violence to advance their ideology are in pretty big danger of becoming “fa” sooner or later, no matter how they describe themselves.

But.

I’m also having a hard time getting as angry about the antifa folks as I am about the Nazis who used lethal violence in the name of white supremacy.

Motives matter. We have a billion different ways of judging wrongful deaths based on the motivations of the killer. (Neglect will get you a few years in prison; heat of the moment anger a few years more; something judged a “hate” crime can get you sent away even longer.) But … they don’t for Mennonites.

Violence is violence is violence, and violence is wrong. But I’m having trouble condemning all of it with equal fervor.

This troubles me.

With anguish,
Joel

Nazis, Republicans, and Donald Trump

Dear Rebecca:

Here’s what I wanted to say yesterday, but a technical error prevented it:

When conservatives complain about the horrors of Nazi authoritarianism, they’re referring to universal health care.

When liberals complain about the horrors of Nazi authoritarians, they’re referring to … Nazi authoritarians.

Pithy. Clever. But, frankly, cheap.

In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain both call out the evil in Charlottesville for what it is: The work of white supremacists at odds with what’s best in American culture. Good for them.

Don’t get me wrong: Both have enabled Donald Trump at various times. And that enabling led to yesterday’s shameful equivocating by the president. But it’s not so easy to say Republicans = Nazis and leave it at that. So let’s not make this so easy on ourselves.

What we can say, however, is this: Donald Trump, in his inability to ever denounce the David Dukes of the world — or to do it grudgingly on the rare occasion he has — has revealed to us who he is. Racist? I don’t know that man’s heart. But his actions say this: He is reluctant to denounce the clearest examples of racism that exist in American society. And the people he is reluctant to denounce proclaim him their leader.

We know how such silence would be met if, say, left-wing eco-terrorists proclaimed themselves to be acting in the name of Barack Obama.

I have been reluctant to say that Trump supporters are objectively racist, though many of my friends on the left have felt no such compunction. But at this point, again, Trump has revealed who he is. If you endorse him, you endorse racism.

And because, again, this seems to come down to religion and abortion for so many of the president’s supporters: To be silent or neutral or equivocating on racism is not pro-life. You cannot lament the black babies killed by abortion, suggest that it is racism, then stand silent when clear racism declares some lives — black lives, Latino lives — less valuable than others. This president does not deserve your support. Your continued backing of him will be your witness.

We know who Donald Trump is. Who are you?

Respectfully, Joel