R Scott Okamoto
Punching Nazis is ok. And I'm Not Living in a "Bubble."
A strength and weakness of the progressive side is that we are great at policing ourselves. We call each other out for inaccurate or non-inclusive language. We check ourselves and each other for privileged views. And we caution each other against being what we fight against. It's great. Unfortunately, the other side simply sees this as weakness or divisiveness. But this isn't just about the election. This is simply me feeling a little annoyed at some of the fallout of the election. Read this as part satire and part actual rant. Please.
“Don’t punch Nazis.” “If you call them names, you become just like them.” “Get out of your liberal bubble and live and learn from xxx people.”
So, punching a Nazi…If someone identifies himself or herself as a Nazi, that person is supporting murder and genocide in the name of racism. This is arguably the worst kind of person on the planet. There are other hate groups, of course, and perhaps we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just punching Nazis. For now, we’re just talking about Nazis and violent white supremacists. I don’t know that I would personally punch a Nazi because I use my hands to type and play guitar. If you’ve read my post about sex, you might guess that my hands are also important for my marriage. I might consider striking a Nazi with a heavy object, or I might just walk away. I don’t know. But I’m not going to lose a nanosecond of sleep over any Nazi getting a beating. Can’t do it.
You can tell me a touching story about a POC who befriended a Nazi and won his heart to the good side. Awesome. That POC should get an award. A really nice one. But there is a part of me that feels the Nazi did not deserve such grace. I’m not a Christian any more. So many people are killed every day by hate and war and tragedy. If you reach adulthood and still align yourself with a swastika or any kind of systemic hatred and violence against other human beings, I don’t give a flying fuck about you. I greatly admire those who would reach out to a KKK member. I ain’t doing it. That KKK member has a white, moderate cousin or niece somewhere. It’s their job. Using the touching story about a neo-nazi or white supremacist seeing the error of his ways, to me, is the other side of the logic coin where people think all Muslim people are terrorists. The rare individual does not represent the whole.
Name-calling. What names are we talking about? “Racist.” “Misogynist.” “Homophobe.” “Xenophobe.” And the umbrella term, “bigot.” In my mind, these nouns can be converted into adjectives to modify any number of colorful pejorative words like, “asshole,” “moron,” or “fucker.” Just for color and imagery. On social media, the progressives are told that calling Trump or any of his supporters these names is to lower oneself to the same level as Trump or his supporters. That makes no sense to me. I’m reminded of the Scottish who have taken name-calling of Trump to dazzling literary heights. I get that the morality and etiquette bar has been lowered to ridiculous lows, but does colorfully calling out actual racism really make someone the same as a racist? To me, we use this language and these terms, recognizing that we are lowering ourselves simply by being in the conversation during these dark times. This is where we are. To simply live and participate in these times is “lowering ourselves.” But to say there is some moral equivalent between calling out what we so clearly see and experience and the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic assholes who would do us harm…that’s silly.
And finally, the bubble. I’m not sure if it’s narcissistic or pathetically self-deprecating to call one’s community a “bubble.” On one hand, it can be narcissistic. If you’re liberal, you might be considered to live in an “elite” bubble filled with liberal filth like education, culture, diversity, tolerance, environmental concerns, and kale. None of those things make a person a narcissist, but when we feel like we need to reach out and evangelize our educated, diverse, tolerant, gluten-free kaleness to the unwashed masses in red states, that’s where things can get a little off.
On the other hand, it seems to be thinking poorly about ourselves to call a progressive place that attempts to bring equality to all its people some kind of out-of-touch bubble.
I hate hearing people say things like, “Trump won because we live in isolation in our ‘echo chambers’ and ‘bubbles’ of liberalism.” We’re then chastised for being “out of touch with the common people." I don’t know how to say this gently, but for me, not being in touch with racist, anti-science, sexist, angry white and POC conservative people is a deliberate choice. I do not want to live anywhere near those fucking people. We live in a place like Pasadena, California because we know that our interracial family will not be accepted in many other places in America. Knowing that most conservatives think putting my family into incarceration camps was a great idea does not fill me with a gracious desire to reach out to them. I might even be forgiven for wanting to punch them. I am, aren't I? At the very least, you might understand that I’m not going to go out of my way to live with racist morons who do not see me as an American citizen.
When I tell white people that I would never live in a red state, I’m often told I’m being unfair. I’m informed of my ignorance of the pockets of goodness that exist, that there are wonderful places in the Midwest and the South, small towns where the mostly white folks are accepting. They may have elected a gay mayor or a Muslim school superintendent. Awesome. Then it’s their job to reach out to THEIR neighbors in THEIR state. To me, it’s the height of narcissism to think that we blue state liberals can and should go (or phone) unto the red states and show them the error of their ways. It would be dangerous for us, and it would be the worst kind of elitism. Kind of like religious missionaries. Why is it my job to convince Joe the Plumber that Hilary was a great option for president? Why do I have to phonebank unto the ignorant? I totally respect people like my friends who phonebanked for Hilary, targeting the lazy moderates and progressives in swing states who somehow hadn't figured out who they wanted to vote for. It was for the good of the country, but it sucks that we have come to this. And, if you’re going to point out the amazing, wonderful people and communities that exist in red states, why isn’t it THEIR job to enact systemic change? They are the ones who safely and comfortably live in such close quarters with swaths of racist people.
Places like California aren’t perfect. We have our own battles with racism and all kinds of bigotry. But the overall vibe is one of tolerance and a look to the future. To me, this is not a “bubble” that is out of touch with “common people.” We are the common people. We are the future. Who is asking a bigoted baby boomer farmer in Kansas to rethink his worldview? Actually, that’s a good question.
We absolutely should reach out to those around us. We don't have to go far away to make a positive impact on our communities. We should have grace for our friends and neighbors. I believe in change. It's rare, but it's what we should strive for. I guess.
OK, fine. Get me a phone. I’m sure as hell not going to Kansas.