I used to be a Neo-Nazi who should have been punched in the face. • r/offmychest
The 'Punch Nazis' trend, and people saying 'no don't do that', lately has brought up one of the most shameful aspects of my life. Once upon a...
The ‘Punch Nazis’ trend, and people saying 'no don’t do that’, lately has brought up one of the most shameful aspects of my life.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a neo-Nazi. As a teenager, I got involved with a guy who also considered himself a neo-nazi and I wound up with a swastika scratched into my leg that fortunately has left virtually no scar. Unsurprisingly, this was a horribly unhealthy relationship for 17yr old me to be in and it didn’t last long. A few years later I dated another guy, and his girlfriend. He was a neo-nazi, and his girlfriend was Jewish, and he got off on having a Jewish girl willing to basically pull a 'Night Porter’ with him. That too, unsurprisingly, was a very unhealthy relationship and was over very fast.
But how, why did I get sucked into that life? Quite simply, I was raised by racist parents. Parents who, though they’ve much improved in their views since my younger years, instilled in me the same racism and prejudices they held, all with the classic phrase of 'but we’re not raicst.’ No matter how rebellious I was in everything from religion to sub-culture to music to w/e, I never felt a need to rebel against that because it had been a part of my life on such a passive, natural level. As I became an adult and became more aware of the world around me and actually STUDIED (after some help) and educated myself, I began to see that what I was buying into, or at that point at least NOT rebelling against, was fucked up. Yet it was still hard to overcome, because hatred and pride are so, so easy to get sucked into. 'Misery loves company’ and there is a lot of misery in the world of white supremacists, so there’s plenty of people to pull you down while making it seem like they’re holding you up.
Ultimately I met someone who was willing to challenge me on absolutely everything and force me to think for myself. Every view I presented was questioned harshly, meanly, and time and time again my views that aligned with racism and nazism were demolished with logic. Soon this logic enabled me to realize 'Holy fuck, I have been a huge idiot, this is wrong’ (to say the least) and the same cognitive dissonance that set in with my 'religious epiphany’ began regarding human compassion. In that moment I swore I would not be party to those views again.
Looking back on it, were it not for the fact that I am A: Rebellious, B: Open to learning new things, and C: had someone willing to be a patient asshole with my stubborn bigotry, there is a chance that even now (I’m 28) I would not have overcome those viewpoints. Shy of someone literally punching me in the face, of someone blatantly and rudely standing up to me, I’d have carried on like I was right to hold those prejudices and ideologies.
And from what I knew/know of people who identify as 'nazis’ or 'alt-right’ or 'fascists’ or whatever fucking label they’re trying to put on their idiocy… they’re terrible people. The vast majority of whom are completely unwilling to entertain the idea they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter how eloquent you are, how patient you are, how peaceful you are, probably 98% of them will not listen and will not change their minds. There is something about the comradery of that hatred and pride that is more addictive than heroine. And that 2% that might be willing? They’ll branch out on their own, secretly, and entertain those ideas. But that 2% isn’t worth holding back.
Now we have the trend of punching nazis. And I love it. I love the fact that I love it, because a decade ago, I’d have been offended because I’d be a target. And yeah, punching their lights out may only serve to close their minds further, but, it does in fact teach them to keep their nonsense to themselves and not spout it publicly, and that they aren’t safe if they do. So, I just can’t get behind the idea of 'no, you can’t do that, it’s just more violence!’ because I’ve been there and know that’s the language they speak, that I once spoke; it was the language I best understood at the time.
If I met 17 year old nazi-me today, I’d punch myself in the face. And I’d have deserved it.
Thanks for reading, reddit. And also, to everyone who has ever been persecuted by fascists, neo-nazi’s and the 'altright’ or straight up racists… I’m sorry. I can’t apologize for them, but I still apologize for anything and everything I ever did to add to that grief.
EDIT Well. This got a bit popular. I’m trying my best to answer questions and messages! The biggest question I’ve gotten in messages has been about how to address people who are racist/involved in white supremacy to help turn them around (without just punching them in the face.)
My advice on this, and what worked with me, was knowing logical fallacies as my 'mentor’ who guided me out of the cave did. And he was a relentless asshole Granted, I was already open to new things and to learning, and without that it would have been a futile effort. One has to be open to and aware of the notion of cognitive dissonance for it to have a positive impact, otherwise they will just run further into the cave out of fear. However, if they are open to it, ask what their views are. Do this several times without criticizing or affirming, just do it to understand. Then go back and each time you speak with them, point out their lapses in logic: “But that’s post hoc… you’re basing that on false equivalence… don’t strawman’ and explain what those are. This took months and also my mentor convinced me to travel a bit with him on his dime. Like, he went above and beyond what most people could ever do. He helped to physically remove me from that life for a short time, but while someone is immersed in it… it’s daunting, and it’s going to take a very long time. I wish I could give you a more positive, instant-gratification answer, but that’s been my experience and that’s what I can convey best.
EDIT EDIT I understand many of you don’t advocate violence/are against the notion of punching people in the face even though they are literal nazis/think violence isn’t the answer… and you’re welcome to that view. However, I was met with those views time and time again, and they didn’t work. Being a woman, I seldom was the one attacked (sexism is a thing everywhere and in many directions… but that’s another issue) but my male counterparts were, and they deserved it. That’s what shut them up, that’s what pushed them back into the shadows. Yes, I am living proof that you can crawl out of that hole without that physical violence, but I also know how much of an anomaly that is (also that the verbal skirmishes with my mentor were far more painful and filled with far more rage than a fist to the face). You can accept the testimony of myself, and others who have posted here who’ve dealt with this lifestyle first hand, and consider it, or don’t. That’s up to you. I’ve posted this to simply express my experience and how I’ll choose to deal with it if needed.
EDIT EDIT EDIT Holy gilding batman! Thank you! And regardless of the mixed responses, even the harassing ones, I appreciate the conversation this has started and the insights that have been shared here.
EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT This post got far bigger than expected. I’m doing my best to answer questions and messages but I didn’t expect to front page (apparently this did? I didn’t see it but a few people mentioned that) and I can only tackle so much but I’ll try to get to all of it in time!