Friday, January 19, 2018

On Aziz Ansari: Let's Set the bar Higher than 'Not Rape'

I've had a hard time getting myself to sit down and write about this. I've procrastinated for days, always finding something else to do, other than think about this blogpost....or the Twitterhate writing about this subject could bring, from the antis and 'Rational Centrists' - who are usually...you know... *totally*  believably moderate and Center in their politics. 

It's sad that we live in a world where being a feminist or simply a woman speaking up about sexual harassment/abuse/coercion/inappropriateness is a controversial position on the internet. 

Many tend to be more concerned about the careers of the accused being DESTROYED than what the victim might have gone through, and how their lives might have been affected. And, all this in a world where a self professed sexual predator was elected to lead one of the most powerful countries in the world. 



His career seems fine, so far. 

***

There are so many thoughts buzzing around in my head...things that I’m recalling, that I’d rather not. I'm reluctantly combing through my relevant memories, because these #MeToo stories cause them all to surface. Those experiences in uni, on a packed bus, at work...with a boss creepily running his finger down my neck, bare shoulder and along my ear... (was it my fault for wearing an off shoulder top?) are all coming back to me. Another experience comes to mind, one with a doctor responsible for putting me under before a surgery - who leaned in and called me 'sexy'...as I lay there on the operating table about to be knocked out cold. 

I clench my jaw just thinking about it.

There are so many ways that behaviour can be sexually inappropriate, a whole spectrum exists. It's not always as black and white as rape vs. not rape, attack vs. no attack...it doesn't actually have to be an 'attack' to violate someone.

And some very important, oft-neglected conversations lie in those grey areas. 

The thing that bothers me most about the discussion revolving around #MeToo, other than those trying to discredit the whole movement as some sort of hysterical, puritanical sex panic/witch hunt, is the binary thinking - That either this movement is perfection, impossibly unflawed....or that it is unfair and worth delegitimizing entirely... 'angry women' apparently now hold a lot of 'power' over some potentially innocent men that will get caught up in this. Will somebody please think of the accused men?!!

Sigh. If I were Aziz, I'd honestly cringe at the kinds of things being written in my defense.

(Click to enlarge) Interestingly. the writer of the above piece defending Aziz is also the author of this gem.
"Having so many choices, Caitlin Flanagan maintains, has torn women away from what many
of them want most: to raise a family and run a household. "  I bet this is on Peterson's reading list.


The attempts to discredit a general conversation about sexual behaviour that crosses the line, takes me back to my experiences with conservative opinions in Saudi and Pakistan. 

While of course not at all comparable in the power they wield over dissenters or the degree of blatant misogyny...the underlying distaste for women having these conversations, reminds me of what I've seen in the other countries I've lived in. There are definitely some common themes, harder to ignore in these Trumpian times, as the better packaging comes undone.  

However, despite some fierce criticisms, a very important discussion has opened up. And I for one am pleased to see the walls of silence come crumbling down, inspiring women around the globe, including in my motherland, Pakistan. As difficult as these conversations are, they need to be had. Finally…finally, women are being heard on this. Finally the grey areas are up for discussion...

There's this ridiculous idea that if it’s not a Harvey Weinstein level of abuse then it’s basically not worth criticizing. 





Firstly, I haven't seen anyone equate Aziz to Weinstein, and secondly why the fuck isn't something less than that worth talking about? The complaint isn't that it just wasn't romantic enough ffs. 

I'd even say the behaviours and incidents that are not on the worse end of the spectrum are probably personally relevant to more people.

It might be hard to come to terms with for some  -- especially those who are now having to question their own past actions -- but lets face it, sexual mores change, evolve and have *always* done so. 

This isn't some new thing sprung upon us by the 'spoiled, shrill, unreasonable, sjw' feminists of this decade. 

Once upon a time in popular media, Pepe le Pew's courting tactics were considered acceptable for children to view, hilarious even. 

Now, we know better. 





*** 

Many things can simultaneously be true in regard to this story & #MeToo, this is what most of the pushback doesn't get:

1) Of course it is in no way comparable to Weinstein, and 'Grace' from the story isn't saying that it is. 
2) It still paints a concerning picture.
3) The Babe article was done irresponsibly, it's focus on irrelevant minute details like the wine, etc. were damaging to the story.
4) It still started an important conversation.
5) Just because it isn't rape or about workplace harassment, doesn't mean it can't be included in #MeToo.
6) Criticizing people who are less than serial rapists doesn't mean it's a witchhunt. 
7) Yes there are bad takes happening in #MeToo, some blanketly throwing men under the bus. That is unavoidable in a conversation where literally anyone and everyone is chiming in. We should call those out too.
8) Some bad takes do not discredit all of #MeToo.

***

There are already many people like Christina Sommers, who will defend Milo at his worst, 

Now deleted whataboutery deflecting from criticism of milo making comments
about real ppl, actual consent. Not a play. 



But are waiting to jump at the slightest chance to discredit this entire movement, 



Not well reported but definitely not 'baseless', even he did not deny any of it. 






The skeptosphere in particular has been painfully swamped with praise for the ‘brave women’ who speak out against #MeToo (because of course),

Not to mention this very article laid out that the 'brave woman' being praised also defended Roman Polanski.
Then I was also linked to this, and it seemed he engaged and didn't deny defending someone
who was jailed for paying underage sex workers. :(


There are takes involving the revolting hashtag #MeNeither (yes that's really a hashtag dedicated to people who haven't been sexually abused talking about flaunting how they haven't in the faces of those who have), that frankly strike me as reminiscent of women who insist that because *they* had a choice around the hijab and niqab, that those things are not oppressive. We have plenty such women in Pakistan and Saudi, so many of these systems would not have thrived so long without the help of women who have a case of internalized sexism. Their western counterparts are now more openly flaunting their positions, in this absurd Petersonian era of the Skeptosphere. I mean #TradLife is a meme that exists now and isn't laughed out of existence. 

Yes yes unbunch your undies, I repeat, I know Saudi Arabia is worse and much more oppressive, and that women in Pakistan have a way tougher battle for rights ahead of them than western women do. I’ve heard that dismissing tactic enough times. 

There can exist similarities with differing degrees of intensity. 

But just imagine #MeNeither being used to oppose a hashtag where women were speaking up about religiously motivated abuse and mutilation like FGM. These same #MeNeither skeptics would see it for the disgusting minimization that it is. 

Aside from all this, there are also the deeply disappointing 'maybe Sandusky [convicted serial child rapist] is innocent' takes by Jerry Coyne and in Skeptic magazine. Jerry also expressed sympathy for poor Milo after his whole pedophilia scandal. 


Before I am accused of taking it 'out of context' let me just say here's a link to the whole piece
read it and cringe for yourself. 

The great Skeptic magazine also wrote a glowing review of Milo's book after this whole scandal. 

There are endless examples of concerning attitudes on this subject among 'skeptics' (see Amos Yee & the number of people that stepped up to defend or minimize Sargon tweeting 'I wouldn't even rape you', those that applauded it at an atheist/skeptic conference) ...but that's a separate blogpost in itself. 

Back to this story now;

This story hurt. 

Aziz Ansari cuts deep, he’s a successful brown Muslim comedian…such success in hollywood is rare for brown people. I have been rooting for him from the start. I grew up longing to see faces like mine on TV...and now...there he was. Oh Aziz 

:(

He’s a non traditional secular guy too who makes shows about his complicated relationship with his parents religious expectations, about the first time he snuck off with his cousin to have some pork. 

There is so much that deeply and personally resonates with me. He's repping secular people of muslim background in a not anti-muslim way...which is just so rare and so important. It really hurts to see him criticized like this, and it hurts to read about how he conducted himself.

I don't criticize him lightly or easily, but even I can see that some criticism is warranted. 

It also hurts because conservative muslims have already long attacked him with garbage takes like ‘hollywood only accepts secular muslims’ 

Really now. Hollywood only accepts secular Muslims? 

 ....And now they're using this story to say that it was his secularism or westernization that are to blame. Which is such rubbish - as if traditional muslim men who have clung to their religiosity and culture do not mistreat women..as if men directly from the old country do not mistreat women. 

I am so sick of people injecting their terrible agendas into #MeToo…be it anti-feminist, anti-western, anti-left, anti-porn, anti-casual sex....This isn't about any of those things...It's about sexual abuse and misconduct in whatever forms it may occur. 

This isn't hard.

On the flip side of anti-secular I've also seen pathetic anti-Muslim takes. 

Right, I suppose it was Cosby, Weinstein, Louis CK, Spacey & James Franco's Muslim upbringing
that caused them to behave this way...I mean, obviously there are some religious hypocrites, sexually repressed
who act out this way. But Aziz's story clearly isn't to do with his being of Muslim background. I forget which hadith says, 'demand a blowjob in the first 10 mins of a date'. 


I’ve also seen embarrassing ex-muslim takes, bringing Mohammed, (the prophet) into this whole thing? I mean why… this conversation is about people that...at the very least, have recently existed? 

Are we going to bring Henry VIII into it too? This is such foolishness, and such a stretch to find a way to drag Islam into it. Why do they insist on making Islam criticism so cringeworthy? Islam certainly has some terrible beliefs surrounding treatment of women, most Abrahamic religions do. But when you're grasping at straws like this and inserting mohammed into conversations like #MeToo , it just makes your criticism appear silly.  

A better way would be to call out people who use religion/Islam to justify things like child marriage or sexual abuse today.. that would be relevant… unlike dragging Mo in all the way from 7th century Arabia. 

As for the anti left takes... OH MAH GAWD THE HYSTERICAL LEFT IS ON A WITCHHUNT AGAIN *eyeroll*....Yes absolutely there are some extreme takes on the left that make me cringe. Just the other day I saw one with like 25K retweets saying that men should act like their name could be on a list. I don’t think that preemptively instilling fear in innocent people is the right lesson to take from this at all. 

Then there was someone I encountered who claimed that STEM was immoral because Krauss tweeted that disappointing article. I mean, come on...what a ridiculous conclusion. 

I’m happy to call those views out without dismissing the whole of #MeToo. 

What I’m tired of seeing (particularly in the skeptosphere) are people who’ve not uttered a peep in support of women speaking out against predators but as soon as they get the opportunity to tweet an article questioning #MeToo, they’ll be all over that. 


(click to enlarge) An screenshot from an actual article Michael Shermer tweeted out about #MeToo - apparently the voices of women who have had enjoyable sexual experiences are missing from #MeToo...well no shit. 

***

Aziz’s case was a good way to see who’s just looking to delegitimize this entire conversation and who's willing to acknowledge the flaws in the Babe article... while also saying, "this is something we need to discuss, as we are currently redefining and renegotiating the boundaries of appropriate sexual behaviour. That is literally the point of this. Remember, at one time marital rape was not acknowledged...these boundaries continue to shift as culture shifts - and to be clear, I'm not saying this case was rape.

What makes Aziz’s case especially worthy of criticism is the context that he literally wrote a book on the nuances of modern dating,

"In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world." 

And let's remember that some of these cases have only surfaced because the women involved saw these men shamelessly flaunting a #TimesUp pin after having treated them in this way.

Aziz has often used feminism in his comedy, has talked about being a feminist and encouraged people to use the word. It's perfectly fair to call him on his unfeminist behaviour.

Some of what was detailed in that ‘Babe’ piece was pretty horrifying, I can't even believe this is up for debate or being characterized as her wanting him to be a 'mindreader'. 

She physically removed her hand from his dick 5-7 times….she said she pulled away... went limp and stopped moving her mouth, she told him she didn’t want to feel forced…when he asked about sex she said 'next time'...

What about this is confusing or unclear? What part requires mindreading? What has made people behave so viciously towards Grace...the fact that it wasn't rape? Come on...is that where we are as a society? Our bar should be set well above 'not rape'. 

He's a celebrity she has admired, it could easily have been intimidating for her when he started undressing her so immediately. She understandably needed a moment to process wtf was happening. She gave him enough cues to stop and he didn't...until she stood up and said no yet again. Even after all that he tried to kiss her again, reached to try and unbutton her pants again. Can a woman not expect to sit at a first-time date's house without getting felt up and kissed constantly? 

He doesn’t seem to have denied any of the things she’s listed, just that it was interpreted differently by him. And he might be right, he may not have even noticed doing anything wrong...Which is what’s appalling, this is the conversation that hasn’t happened properly.  Now is the time people are going to speak up about boundaries in the bedroom. 

Some responses to this were so cruel, so vicious...it was hard to even look. 




 






The victim blaming in relation to this case is just everywhere…the articles I’ve seen are unbelievable. How are we *still* having these discussions. Some of it perhaps, can be explained by a generational difference in perception. There's this idea that younger feminists are not tough enough, spoiled even. Feminists back in the day were fighting the 'real' fight, this is just shallow frivolous stuff now. 

I mean of course there are some ridiculous fringe views in feminism too, but these are exaggerated to try and discredit the whole of it. 

Being taken seriously when demanding progress has been a struggle for each generation. 




Sarcasm Font:

Worry not, silly Regressives...everything is *great* now, feminism has achieved it's goals and therefore has become unnecessary - Because things are not *as* bad as they once were, because women are now seen as 'equal under the law'.... there's no problem. Kind of like how racism is over too. Especially post-Obama, there has been no racism in the US ever again. You know where they need feminism? In those other countries, those people over there don't know how to treat women. Us in the glorious West thankfully have it all worked out. 


***

In seriousness though, one of the best responses I've seen to an accusation (not a perfectly comparable situation but one that is also 'not rape') is from Dan Harmon of the show Community who recorded a heartfelt apology on his podcast. 



Now Grace’s critics might also look at this situation and see something that required no apology, but in my opinion his words did a lot of good. It set a great example for something like this to be done again. 

Megan Ganz was a writer on the show that he had feelings for which soon became incredibly uncomfortable for her. Here are some quotes from his recorded apology below, which I think are especially significant in this climate. Too many people still insist that anything less than rape or Harvey Weinstein isn't worth discussing.

He made sure to tell his audience that attacking her or revictimizing her would do him no favours. 

He used language like “Attracted to a writer I had power over” 

“Ran the risk of undercutting her faith in her talent”

"I did the cowardly easiest laziest thing you could do with feelings like that, not dealing with them..and in not dealing with them I made everybody else deal with them. I made her deal with them. I was flirty, creepy, everything other than being overt enough to constitute betraying your live in girlfriend to whom you’re going home to every night."

He acknowledges, that he stopped short of doing anything obvious enough to constitute open betrayal and it was still a problem. And how everyone else, especially her…had to deal with that because he wouldn’t.

"….telling myself and anybody that threatened to confront me with it, that if you thought what I was doing was creepy or flirty or unprofessional, its because you were the sexist…”

Sounds familiar re: how the skeptosphere treats racism/sexism, It’s you who is the real sexist if you think women are victims. It’s you who is the real racist if you complain about racism. 

(Interestingly it’s also like the twisted logic you hear a lot ex hijabis mention, how they once justified the modesty garment to themselves; "Women who don't wear hijabs are slaves to society/the patriarchy, who mould themselves according to the will of men." "Hijabs are liberating, feminist…a means of freeing yourself from the male gaze, from scrutiny over appearance, etc, if you don't wear one you are actually the oppressed one"… but no one really buys that kind of thinking deep down inside.. do they?)

Back to Dan Harmon though, note the subtlety he captures here:

"Its not as if this person didn’t repeatedly communicate to me the idea that what I was doing was divesting her of a recourse to integrity.. I just didn’t hear it. It didn’t profit me to hear it."

Aziz Ansari could benefit from thinking along these lines. What he did may have been within the bounds of legality…but it was most certainly not ok. As someone who is a celebrity you’ve got to be aware of the sway you have over others. He must have sensed some of her signals of not being on board...I mean she literally said at one point, "I don't want to feel forced" but it didn’t benefit him to really pick up on them and adjust his behaviour accordingly. 

This line in particular struck me:

“I want it to sound relatively unremarkable to you because that’s the danger” - its really wonderful to hear someone acknowledge this...a man-person, even.  There are so many of these 'unremarkable' experiences happening in bedrooms, at workplaces that cross the lines...we need to start talking about those, and how we've normalized this kind of thing. 

"I wanted to teach her a lesson, if she didn’t like being liked in that way

Good on him, for acknowledging he felt that way.

"I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it, and the entire time I was the one writing her paycheques ….treated her cruelly. Things I would have never done if she was male."

"I lied to myself the entire time about it, I lost my job, I ruined my show and I damaged her internal compass…and I moved on."  [emphasis mine]

I imagine this is an effect Aziz might have had on Grace as well, and it would be good of him to acknowledge it in the storm that is being unleashed on her. Her internal compass must be all over the place right now... second guessing herself for creating this cyclone of hate.

Yes we know Aziz isn't a monstrous rapist, but still this account does not paint him in a good light. It would be incredible to hear something like Dan Harmon's apology coming from him...something heartfelt, with no excuses. Something that calls out the articles and people hating on her. But that's usually not how things are handled in these situations, so I won't hold my breath. Harmon said he went against legal advice to talk about this openly. 

Anyway, those are my meandering, rambly thoughts on the matter. Thanks for sticking around to read them. 

I hope that we can soon stop shaming Grace, and have more productive conversations around sexual misconduct that is 'not rape'. I hope we can hold people to a higher standard in the bedroom than just 'but it wasn't illegal'. I hope that the terrible op-eds saying spare Aziz from criticism because he is brown-skinned will stop. 

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

About that NYT Nazi Article...





Remember when we didn't need to discuss Nazis all the time? Like...back in the day...early 2016-2015. Good times, those were :(

So what's this big fuss over the New York Times Nazi Article? What's got everyone so upset? Are the Regressive Leftists being regressive again? God why can't they tolerate different ideas...

Did these lefty cucks really think an article would push people into being Nazis?

------

*deep sigh*

---Well---

...While there were some (I didn't see too many tbh) people going overboard and calling the NYT a literal Nazi Sympathizing paper (like come on, I don't actually think they have a secret Nazi agenda), there were a lot of other good reasons to be disappointed with this article.

I'm wary of both ends of this too, carelessly throwing around the term Nazi *and* being overly defensive/underusing the term Nazi, even when it CLEARLY applies.

There are people who have accused me of being a 'Nazi sympathizer' because I have been critical of the hijab and niqab as a woman who had to live through 'modesty' enforced by the state in Saudi Arabia. You bet your ass I'm going to be critical...and it's not at all for the same xenophobic fear-mongering reasons most far-righters hate muslims/hijabs in this current climate....And then, there's the other side, where I'm surrounded by supposed 'Rational Skeptic' thinkers who are so 'anti-left' that downplaying Nazis is kind of their embarrassing trademark now. They will literally argue that someone shouting 'Heil Hitler' at a white nationalist speech is "not a Nazi" - because they aren't time-traveling from Nazi era Germany, you see...so technically they can't be Nazis.




(clip via @neobabylon2)


Some are simply so anti-Muslim that it serves their interest to downplay
Nazis in a way that would be better suited to The Onion. 

There are great intellectual Atheist takes that will put the swastika and Star of David in the same category, and when someone politely explains why that's an issue they will double down and insist that Judaism is *worse* than Nazism actually....






There are tons of examples of this type of ignorant nonsense from Rational Skeptics in the online Atheist scene. If you were to go by some of these commentator's timelines...there is apparently *no* problem with a rise of (neo) Nazis in Trumpian America. It's all just leftist hysteria. According to them, time is best spent arguing against those who refer to Richard Spencer as a Nazi....because he's not a time traveler... *eyeroll*

So while I agree, that there are definitely people who overuse the term, I'm also increasingly frustrated by people who downplay the danger of the far-right, who insist Nazis don't exist at all today, who pretend like this is still some fringe issue and not a growing movement with a President who has has created a welcoming space for them.

The rest of us, as reasonable humans, should try and exist between these two incredibly stupid and toxic extremes.

And with this article, it seemed that NYT was sort of playing the tune of the 'Nazi downplayers'...

-----

Let me jump right into why I think the piece was not well received....In fact it was so badly received that the editor had to chime in and explain wtf they were thinking. How the NYT put it in their headline, "Readers Accuse Us of Normalizing a Nazi Sympathizer; We Respond" is a fairly accurate description of most of the criticism.

So while not literally Nazi sympathizing, but *normalizing* a Nazi sympathizer....I think that's fair...a case can be made for this article doing exactly that, whether it intended to or not.

There's also the fact that the writer of this now notorious piece also wrote an additional piece about how he knew it was missing something, and how he could 'feel the failure' because he didn't get to the heart of why this Nazi turned to his vile belief system. It read like an excuse, something else to pin the colossal failure of this article on, other than the awfulness of the piece itself. I can tell he had enough to write a better piece on this very subject just by reading what he put out. And come on, if you're writing to explain your article and saying you could feel the failure, then I think you've conceded that it was pretty bad.

On top of that, there were also factual errors:




So much went wrong here.

--And it's not that I don't understand what was being attempted. I know this kind of piece, and it can indeed be done very well...the juxtaposition of horrific genocidal beliefs with mundane snippets of everyday existence. There is something to that contrast for sure...but there has to be an actual, proper contrast for that to work. It won't work if it's heavy on the minor details of what everyone was wearing and eating but glosses over the, ya know...genocidal beliefs part. That's when it becomes lopsided..and people start to wonder wtf you were even trying to do, if not a cushy profile?

There also has to come a point where the article serves a purpose beyond describing what the nazis were wearing/eating/having on their wedding registry. It should inform us in some way? Tell us something about the movement and radicalization process...other than making the Nazi grievances seem legit.

"His faith in mainstream solutions slipped as he toured the country with one of the metal bands. “I got to see people who were genuinely hurting,” he said. “We played coast to coast, but specifically places in Appalachia, and a lot of the Eastern Seaboard had really been hurt.”"

This type of article done properly, delves into the extremist's beliefs and frames them in a way that no borderline-nazis reading, could mistake for free promotion. It lets the subject hang himself by his own words, so to speak... but it doesn't jump immediately from him saying *Hitler was chill* to sympathetically telling his story about how society is not fair to him, and what his dream fascist-utopia would look like...punctuated with cute details about Cherry pie tattoos and wedding planning.

I mean yeah, of course I understand the need to humanize evil, and to show us that it doesn't come in the shape of an unrelatable monster, it can live, breathe and walk amongst us in the form of our neighbours, coworkers, teachers, friends, etc.

That's an important message...it's just that this article failed to deliver it.

There is a line between 'humanize' and 'sanitize'...the same line exists between whether one is journalistically exploring an extremist subject or providing a glossy advert for them. This is the difference between Louis Theroux and Dave Rubin (alt-right propagandist) for example. Louis can explore all manner of disturbing extremist subjects but people don't assume he is sympathetic to them because of the way he frames those stories. Dave on the other hand enters his interviews with a clear agenda of wanting the extremists to present their best side, while talking shit about The Left with them.

Now, I don't think this NYT piece was like Dave Rubin sanitizing 'migrants are cockroaches' 'we need a final solution' Katie Hopkins bad....There was better intent behind it and it just didn't work out, I want to make that clear. Dave's is an intentional sanitization, this was a poor job of framing the article which resulted in what appeared to be a normalizing effect.

When you are trying to show that evil exists among us and goes to Applebee's just like us...then actually position the piece in that way. Then the absurdity of combining white supremacist ideology with a causal turkey sandwich will perhaps even be entertaining. But the key is you make it clear that you are trying to demonstrate how banal evil can be...

If done well, this kind of piece can be very effective. The 'banality of evil' genre isn't a write off...but you've got to get the tone right. Don't approach Nazism as if it's a mere cultural curiosity. Don't do it in a way that it serves no purpose other than simply boosting a white supremacist signal out into the world...on a popular, respected mainstream outlet - Because *that* could potentially embolden more borderline white nationalists in this particular white power-y climate....they'll see that they're getting such a fuzzy profile which isn't really demonizing them at all. One that's in fact helping to mainstreamize them! See guys, their hopes and dreams are just like ours! They have muffin tins on their wedding registries! They talk about having kids too! Aww...

Nazis *love* mainstream media coverage, so at least try to do it in a way that makes them not love it?

“I love mainstream liberals. Those are my favorite journalists.” - Richard Spencer 

If you're going to give someone space to say 'Hitler was chill' ffs, the next paragraph better be something to balance that and signal to others like him that this ideology is not tolerated. The shiny new Nazism of 2017 isn't some rare ornament that you can report on in a detached manner...it's a pretty urgent issue we're facing in the west, lives have been lost. Pieces on this subject without a sense of urgency or a sense of purpose will cause people to question the motives of such a project.

Picture this same type of article featuring a Jihadist or an Islamist.. the same people whining that The Left wants audiences spoonfed basic facts like 'Nazis are bad' would themselves be outraged.

Not an exact comparison, but this situation reminds me of the time a ridiculous Asim Qureshi of CAGE referred to ISIS murderer Jihadi John as 'a beautiful man', and people were rightfully appalled. Now obviously he wasn't referring to the ISIS version of the guy as beautiful, but rather the guy he knew in the past. But *still* wtf was he thinking saying that about a beheader?

Similarly, its not that people need to be spoonfed the position that Nazis are bad, but they are just appalled that someone with genocidal beliefs and sympathies for a monster like Hitler can be portrayed in such a soft lens.

People are understandably sensitive about how vile ideologies and their adherents are portrayed.

You just can't be downplaying this kind of thing....The Asim Qureshi thing was a sentence, but imagine the outrage if he was profiling a Jihadi for a known publication...and he focused on his wedding plans, and on the fact that he didn't see himself as a jihadist, just someone fighting for freedom for his family, the kinds of sandwiches they shared and didn't address the elephant in the room, that woah those are some very fucked up and dangerous beliefs.

The most upsetting thing to people is that this story ran in a climate where nazis are becoming emboldened by the day. Where the US president is inspiring them and is unable to properly condemn them. This article came across cold and with no comment on the victims of this ideology. Despite mentioning Charlottesville, there was no sympathy for Heather Heyer. They literally included a link to where you can purchase a swastika armband ffs. WHYYY.

'Facepalm' doesn't quite cut it. 


Now, I personally enjoy the use of absurd and comedic tactics to combat extremism, It's why I liked the real housewives of ISIS skit...it's why I enjoy Contrapoints' channel, especially her older videos involving bedazzling swastikas on her chest....it's why we've done two episodes together on a strangely specific topic like 'Fascist Fashion'. I absolutely think theres a way to talk about a Nazi's food preferences and make it valuable and entertaining. But it has to add something, it has to have a point...and the point can't just be detailing the kinds of sandwiches they eat. The article seems incomplete...like there could have been a useful point made afterwards but there just wasn't and the writer stopped at minor food details.

Ok, so he eats at Applebee's and? This could have been a piece about the tactics they use to mainstreamize their views and almost appear normie, but it wasn't. Heck this could have even been a piece about how Nazis consume the same pop culture as us and the cognitive dissonance behind that... it could have been a 'how to spot signs'....but instead it really served no purpose at all.

-----

Here are some excerpts from the piece that I found particularly cringeworthy:



I mean look at how it starts off, painting them as any other sweet couple with a wedding registry at Target, people who bake muffins and slice pineapples.....and? AND wouldn't mind some ethnic cleansing of non-white people....how about adding that? 


Then there was this gem....like...what...?

 O___O 

I had to check a couple of times to make sure I wasn't missing some quotation marks or something...because, did the writer really write that himself? Is that his opinion? Or is he sharing what he thinks the subject of his profile feels like? It's all too vague and blurry to be reassuring that it's not the writer himself saying that, "it can FEEL toxic to openly identify as a far right extremist" - What do you mean it can FEEL toxic? It is toxic, it's fucking extremism...  

What is he trying to do there, I don't know tbh....Aww poor white nationalist is having a hard time coming out of the closet because the horrible environment is too toxic for him to be his genuine self. Ffs. 



So here we start with how polite and 'low-key' he is, aww....he's literally the Nazi sympathizer next door...what a 'wholesome' image. And then we actually hear a tiny sprinkling of his vile views...almost as if they slipped in by accident to ruin his nazi-next-door image. No worries, the writer jumps straight to his cutesie cherry pie pop-culture tattoos because we can't dwell on the uncomfortable vile beliefs too long for some reason...



Here, again with the fucking manners. He's a fucking Nazi who thinks white people are superior to other races and Hitler wasn't so bad....that's not very polite is it now? 



It just seems odd to give him space to spout this anti semitic conspiracy on such a large platform without adding a remark or two, or at least a mildly disapproving adjective somewhere. 


See how harmless and non-racist he is? He's even having mixed-race couples at his wedding. 

--How about you don't add that right after talking about how he says he's not a white supremacist?--

People trying to split hairs between white nationalist and white supremacist should really be challenged on that at the very least if they are being given such a large platform. 


I don't know maybe it's just me but you've got to inject some expression or commentary as a writer when your subject is engaging in holocaust denial and saying Hitler was 'chill'. In a documentary profiling extremists perhaps the interviewer can rely on facial expressions or just a tense awkward atmosphere... to convey appropriate framing. But in an article if all we get is cold detached reporting and obsessive detail on nazi eating habits, people are not going to take it well. 


And it ends on a note of them sharing their hopes and dreams like any other couple (exactly how it began), woven badly with a quick mention of Charlottesville. And what. is. with. the. food. obsession. in. this. article? Turkey sandwiches, muffin pans, Applebees, Pasta.

What a normal year 2017 has been.

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