You had to know this was coming, right? It wasn’t like you were trying to be subtle.
I mean, anyone who chooses to wear a highlighter-yellow sweater is practically begging to be noticed.
But amazingly enough, that fashion faux pas was the least noticeable thing about you, given the Nazi Germany Schutzstaffel (SS) bolts were featured prominently on your beanie.
Was there a certain style you were going for? Did you wake up and think to yourself, “I need something that screams racist, but is also cozy?” I bet you do your shopping at Aryan Apparel.
But it wasn’t just the bolts — no, just in case we couldn’t already tell you make a habit of being on the wrong side of history, you were wearing the Confederate Flag, too! I can only assume you also have an extensive LaserDisc collection, listen to Prussian Blue on your Zune, and consider your purchase of a Google Glass money well spent.
And why, exactly, did you feel the need to dress in your David Dukes at the Log Show, anyway? Don’t give me that whole “heritage” runaround. Fun fact: during World War II, the South was “the quickest to support military action in Europe,” according to the Washington Post. “As early as 1939, public opinion polls found that support for the Allies – including the possibility of U.S. military action – was strongest among Southern respondents. Southern newspapers, too, opposed the Nazis and rejected comparisons between the German regime and their own region’s racial politics.”
Of course, those comparisons were fairly accurate, but man — can you imagine the original Klan being all like, “Sure, we’re racist, but at least we’re not those guys”?
It baffles the mind.
Sigh. OK. Time to get serious for a bit, because as much as I believe humor is a valid strategy for combating your kind of extremism, there really isn’t anything funny about the fact that you felt completely at home putting your hate and ignorance on full display.
It’s one thing to have the white nationalist organization Patriot Front visit our little corner of the world every few weeks, littering our cities with thinly-veiled messages of racism, fascism, and violence. (Another fun fact: Since Jan. 6, 2020, I’ve counted at least 191 stickers, posters, and flyers put up around Enumclaw, let alone Buckley and Black Diamond. Look closely around downtown, and you’ll see the scars of battle on nearly every street sign and light pole.)
But it’s a whole other beast to see someone who ascribes to one of the world’s most evil ideologies simply saunter down the street. Like you’re just a normal, everyday dude with normal, everyday beliefs.
I didn’t stop to talk with you that day for several reasons, but that doesn’t mean I simply shrugged and walked away, like I’m sure so many other people do.
I went home, and immediately started writing this column.
And I know you probably won’t even read it, even if you are a Plateau resident. That’s alright, because even though I’m addressing you and your beliefs, the message of this piece is for everyone else.
See, I’m not surprised by the fact that extremism exists in our sleepy little cities. I know you people exist, and I know you’re growing bolder as our country continues to suffer from hyper-polarization; during President Trump’s administration, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded a 55 percent increase in white nationalist groups across the country.
No, I am far more troubled by the fact that, in my experience actively combating Patriot Front in Enumclaw for the last two years, most folks would rather turn a blind eye to the hate encroaching on their community than take a stand against it.
It’s clear to me that you, and others of your ilk, have taken advantage of our passiveness, our willingness to write off real extremism while we sit comfortably in our own bubbles of bias and fight our various culture wars in the comment section of Facebook.
So I hope this serves as a wake-up call for the Plateau. I hope knowing that you’re out there will help people realize that our communities are not immune to hatred, and that more must be done to resist its spread.
(I should say, I don’t blame the Log Show in the least for your appearance, though I did let organizers know you were walking around).
I strongly believe in the First Amendment. I strongly believe that everyday people should be able to go about their lives without being afraid of retaliation for their morals and beliefs.
But when you wear those bolts, you aren’t just expressing an opinion — you are calling for action. For tyranny.
Those bolts will always hold an evil power in this world. A power that must always be held to account and brought, thrashing and cursing, into the light.
So even though I can’t do more than call you out in this column, I invite you to come to my office to sit down with me, face to face, for an official interview and follow up to this column. Despite the fact that I believe what I have written is fair and deserved, you are owed an opportunity to share your side of the story.
I’ll be honest, you won’t find much of a friend sitting across the table from you. Your feet will be held to the fire.
But I take my role as a newsman and a journalist seriously, and I will honor my sacred promise to fairly and accurately represent you.
The choice is yours — you know where to find me.