Worst Time Machine Ever: Nazism Revived in 2017

Thanks to Richard Spencer and Twitter


Above is a screenshot taken from YouTube of Richard Spencer, leader of the alt-right movement, being punched in the face mid-sentence by a protester at Trump’s Inauguration. The alt-right movement, as Spencer explained, has taken Matt Furi’s popularized drawing of “Pepe the frog” and attached it to the Alt-right movement as a symbol for white nationalism, which just proves that 2017 is just as disturbing as 2016.

Ashton Bruce, Staff Writer

For the first time in about sixty years, Nazism makes headlines once again–which is not the new part since Neo-Nazism as a regime has been lurking in the dark spaces of the internet since the internet began—but the shocking part about it is that people seem to be defending Nazism in a way that is reminiscent of the peak Nazi era of the 1940s.

The history of Nazism has roots in Germany amidst War World II, which everyone knows due to every history class they’ve had since elementary school. However, in recent ages, Neo-Nazism has revived through the slimy pits of the internet on forums of free speech like Reddit and 4Chan, renowned for its pseudo-intellectual dictionary-spewing conversations discussing scientific superiority of the white race similar to discussions literal centuries old.

However, in more recent years, particularly in the last few months, even Twitter has become more susceptible to conversation of white supremacy. Now, Facebook is understandable—groups of conservative parents spouting mildly racist comments reminiscent of last Thanksgiving’s dinner conversation isn’t new, but Twitter is like the thunder dome of political ideologies crashing together in a most destructive way as possible.

Twitter is possibly one of the most infamous social networking sites, and while small forums on the darker spaces of the internet is easier to ignore, it’s harder to ignore the rise of neo-Nazis when they have their own hashtag. The internet opens up mediums for discussion that can be distorted differently as when heard in real life, which is why the normalization of Nazism is a severely contagious concern from 2016 continuing into 2017.

Because of this distortion and separation from reality, Nazi-based ideals have become normalized in a more intellectual way to disguise the fact that it’s Nazism. Racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and forms of oppression, due to a more progressive and modern idea of what is acceptable, tends to be more subtle, except in moments of obvious violence based on marginalized hate. The subtlety of oppression in the twenty-first century is the reason that these ideals are perpetuated. By putting up an intellectual, factual front to cover up prejudice, it somehow becomes less like oppression and more like political ideology.

Mainstream media has had Nazism in its headlines for the past few months, and people haven’t even noticed, which could be because Nazism now functions under a new name. Anyone with access to the internet has likely seen a video of Richard Spencer getting punched in the face at President Trump’s inauguration, possibly dubbed to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”. For context, Richard Spencer is the leader of the new neo-Nazi regime, and the reason media has been showing Nazism and some people don’t even recognize it is because it is functioning under a new name: alt-right. Richard Spencer, a literal Nazi, coined the phrase “alt-right” to describe his political movement which acts under the motive of “ethnic cleansing” and functions as a white supremacist movement.

Regardless, because of the verbiage of Spencer’s political ideology, Twitter, as the cesspool of contradictory ideas that is it, has had some surprising responses.

Through the normalization of the alt-right political movement as a valid option for political identity, extremist liberals come to the aid of those identifying with the alt-right and defend their right to express their own ideas. However, this notion of freedom of speech is irredeemable when used to actively harm marginalized groups of people and the argument expresses a clear misinterpretation of the first amendment. Condemning violence against Nazis, while not only incredibly counterintuitive, is counterproductive to the argument since the alt-right actively advocates for the harm of oppressed peoples in a way that is reminiscent of the same 1940s propaganda learned about in school.

The desire to protect movements which actively harm people is not new; while ideas of condemning violence is nice for third graders, the facts are that violent oppression is not always fought in peaceful means. Punching Nazis should not be somehow worse than actually being a Nazi, but because these white supremacists can hide behind a Twitter avatar and have their own hashtag, it makes them a valid political identity? Just because Neo-Nazis refuse the name Nazis (which, again, is reminiscent of the fascist German era, since Nazis of the twentieth century referred to themselves as Nationalists and refuted the term Nazi) does not separate themselves from the same ideas that Nazis had.

By condemning violence against Nazis without refuting the fact that Nazis are currently existed only perpetuates the same issues that occurred in the twentieth century. History is cyclical, and without fighting against Nazis, they are only bound to grow stronger. Through complacency, the alt-right movement spurs closer to Nazism and America will retrace the steps of 1940s Germany.