Commentary

I’m going to protest neo-Nazis this weekend & you should too

rainbow-mask-protestor
New York, New York. - August 13, 2017: Protester at a rally in Union Square denouncing neo-nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Trump in 2017 in New York City.Photo: Christopher Penler / Shutterstock

I’ve spent most of my life doing what I believe is right. While there is a certain amount of shame I have that my elementary and high school protests were centered on naive “pro-life” arguments, I learned. I learned the arguments that side makes – and then I learned better.

I’m proud of the work I did in college. I’m proud of my activism immediately after that and of the time I spent working in nonprofit agencies.

During my years, I’ve been taught a great many things. Here are a few of them that have served me well:

  • I was taught that as a white person, I am relatively privileged and, as such, fighting white supremacist ideology is my job.
  • I was taught that as a queer person, it is not my job to teach straight people that I am “just like them.”
  • I was taught that actions need to start small, attempt to engage your opponents, and escalate from there.
  • I was taught that history is full of moments of tremendous inhumanity and atrocity.
  • I was taught that those moments were made possible by people who considered themselves reasonable by pretending there wasn’t anything wrong until it was far too late.
  • I was taught that after each of these historic moments, there was always a chant of “never again,” but centuries later, it would happen again somewhere else.
  • I was taught that if I am to make the world a better place, I would need to ensure that the last “never again” turned out to be true this time.
  • I was taught how to peacefully demonstrate and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.

I am proud of all that I have been taught. But today, we face not hypothetical, but actual Nazis, sitting in our executive branch of government, infiltrating our police, and literally terrorizing our streets.

This weekend, my fiance and I have decided to go out and face them. I am not going to lie; I am scared, but I am going to face them.

In moments like this, I am faced with all of the things that I wasn’t taught.

  • I wasn’t taught how to wake people out of their complacency and make the people who think they are reasonable by not taking action understand that they are making evil possible.
  • I wasn’t taught how to face a violent enemy that either doesn’t care if they are hurting you or are glad to do it.
  • I wasn’t taught what to do if you’re fighting literal Nazis in the streets.
  • I wasn’t taught how to engage in what amounts to urban warfare on the streets of my own country or city.
  • I wasn’t taught how to live day by day in a country that is on the brink of becoming that atrocity that we keep saying “never again” about.

I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know how to best fight this. In the face of absolute evil (and make no mistake – these white supremacist agitators are the face of evil), I have to face the reality that I may not survive.

I’m not doing this or saying this because I don’t think my life is worth preserving. It is not because I don’t think that my children need me. It is not because I am deluded into thinking that my family and friends wouldn’t be absolutely devastated by my death.

I’m going down to DC on Saturday because, despite all that I wasn’t taught, there is one thing that I have learned from experience.

If I don’t stand up against evil myself, how can I ever expect anyone else to do so?

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