This Is Why The New York Times Published That Nazi Sympathizing Article

This Is Why The New York Times Published That Nazi Sympathizing Article

…and what they should have said instead.
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We love to think about issues in dichotomous ways.

Our comic books have heroes and villains. You’re either a dog-person or a cat-person, you’re “left-brained” or “right-brained,” you’re American or “un-American.” We draw very clear-cut lines in so many issues, whether it’s appropriate to do so or not.

More often than not, it isn’t appropriate. I, like many people, love both dogs and cats. Neuropsychology is much more complicated than the strict lateralization implied by the terms “left-brained” and “right-brained.” And what it means to be American is such a complicated topic that we haven’t stopped arguing about it since well before the Revolutionary War.

But that doesn’t stop us, especially those of us in positions of privilege, from drawing those clear-cut lines and coming to some very unfortunate conclusions.

If some people are good, “we” think, and racists/Nazis/white supremacists/etc. are bad, then the good people and the bad people must be nothing alike at all.

And if I am good, we continue this line of thought, then I must have absolutely nothing in common with people who are bad. If I like Seinfeld, and I am not a white supremacist, then white supremacists must not like Seinfeld.

But then appears a white supremacist who likes Seinfeld, and the New York Times reporters find it newsworthy – because in a world of clear-cut lines, such a thing should not be possible.

I’m referring, of course, to the recent uncritical profile of an American Nazi published by the New York Times. I’m not linking it here, because I don’t want to give it views and it’s easy enough to Google for if you want to. But it happened. And I was too surprised by it to even really engage with the questions of whether the New York Times was expressing sympathy for Nazis. My brain was more occupied with the question, “Why is this news?”

It’s easy to forget that not everyone experiences the world in the same way I do. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has historical genocide in their consciousness. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has that thought when meeting a new person – that “this person is nice, but how will they react when they find out I’m Jewish?”

It’s easy to forget that, for a lot of white people, it is a surprise that white supremacists don’t all have super pointy goatees and secret lairs in their basements. For them, it is a surprise that someone who thinks all people who are not white, Christian, straight, and able-bodied are inferior beings who should die also goes to the grocery store and watches comedy TV.

But for the vast majority of people in the United States – that’s “majority” in terms of numbers, not in terms of privilege – it is no surprise. Anybody who is not white-Christian-cis-straight-male-able-bodied knows that the world is not clear-cut lines between people who like funny TV shows and people who are bigoted.

Every single time I meet a new person – and no, this is not an exaggeration – I have the same fearful moment where I think, “How are they going to react when they find out I’m Jewish?” No matter how “nice” and “normal” the person I’ve met is, I still have to wonder.

Because once upon a time some girls on the school playground – nice, normal girls – told me that if I didn’t believe in Jesus, Santa, and the Easter Bunny, then there would be monsters under my bed forever.

Because until that happens – until someone tells me that I’m going to hell or that I don’t “look Jewish,” or until they carve slurs into my cafeteria table or draw swastikas on my locker, or until they try to kill me – I have no way of discerning the white supremacist from any other white person. There is no villain twirling a mustache. There are only people.

And because there are people who don’t get that evil people eat the same cereal for breakfast that not-evil people do, there is a place for articles that say “Hey, remember that white supremacists look and act like not-evil people – but their beliefs are still bad even though they like Seinfeld!” Because there are people who need that reminder.

But this New York Times article doesn’t say that. It should have said that. The writers and editors who worked on it might have even meant for it to say that. But it doesn’t say that.

Instead it says, “Wow, isn’t it so weird that a Nazi might seem like a normal person?!”

And to that I say, “No. No, it isn’t, at all.”

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

rahma
rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

rahma
rahma

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