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John Oliver, Kentucky, and 1947 Agree: There’s Only One Side to Be on When It Comes to Nazis

"Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it's probably because you're feeding them."

Check out the above clip re: Trump’s non-response to the events taking place in Charlottesville, VA. You know, the ones where there were alt-Right White Nationalist/neo-Nazi rallies taking place protesting the removal of a Confederate statue, and when counter-protesters show up, one of those same alt-Right protesters White Nationalist/neo-Nazis ran over counter-protesters with a speeding car? Yeah, those ones.

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In a segment on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver calls out the fact that, when given the chance to respond to the violent actions of white supremacists, Trump does the exact opposite, reverting to his usual, simplistic, and ignorant tactics to dodge questions about heinous things on his watch (while tacitly supporting them).

In response to the violence in Charlottesville, which ended in the death of a 32-year-old woman and others injured, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of violence and bigotry … on many sides. On many sides.”

First, I don’t think Trump knows what “strongest possible terms” means. Not when he’s equating anti-racist protesters and neo-fucking-Nazis. It’s exactly the kind of fence-sitting and moderation that the Right criticize liberals for all the time. Except when the Right does it, it’s apparently about protecting the feelings and freedoms of Nazis. Second, there was no “egregious display of violence and bigotry” on many sides. It was one side that committed the violence, and that side was made up of white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Period.

Oliver brings up the fact that Trump had several opportunities before and after the bill signing where he made his non-statement to take a stronger stance against the Nazi racists that support him and his Presidency; who, in fact, see his Presidency as furthering their agenda. He didn’t take them. And, as Oliver said:

“A non-answer, in a moment like this, is an answer. If you asked me ‘have you ever been aroused by the fairies in Zelda: The Ocarina of Time?’ and I responded by slowly and silently walking away from you, you would know exactly what I was saying.”

And, in other words:

“Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.”

Oliver closes by encouraging American citizens to join together to stand up against white nationalism and the terrorism with which they are trying to strangle the country, because we clearly can’t count on our current President to do it. Thankfully, average citizens, as well as individual local and state governments are doing just that.

Jim Gray, the 63-year-old mayor of Lexington, KY, announced plans on Saturday to move two Confederate monuments from near a city courthouse. As reported by the Washington Post, the Lexington courthouse is being turned into a visitor’s center, with hopes to position Lexington as a welcoming place in the New South. Can’t really do that with two Confederate statues nearby, though.

According to the Post:

“One statue honors John Hunt Morgan, the “’Thunderbolt of the Confederacy,’ who owned a hemp factory and wool mill and organized the independent Lexington Rifles infantry company in 1857. A few years later, the riflemen took up arms against the Union. At a nearby park is a statue of John C. Breckinridge, a former U.S. vice president who was kicked out of the Senate after he joined the Confederate army. He served as the last Confederate secretary of war. If Lexington’s City Council and the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission give their approval, the statues would be placed in a nearby park honoring veterans.”

While it’s great that these statues will be removed from their central location, they’re still being relocated to a place of honor, which baffles me. Then again, there are statues of Presidents and other people all over the country who’ve done despicable things. As long as they’re not located centrally and are simply viewed from a historical perspective?

Lastly, we have reminders from the past that there is only one side to be on with regard to white supremacy, Nazism, and racism/bigotry of any kindthe opposite side.

In the above educational film from 1947 titled “Don’t Be a Sucker,” viewers are taught how to recognize fascist propaganda, and what they can do to stop or reverse their effects. As reported by Boing Boing:

“This film is not propaganda. To the contrary, it teaches how to recognize and reject propaganda, as was used by the Nazis to promote to bigotry and intimidation. It shows how prejudice can be used to divide the population to gain power. Far more significantly, it then shows how such tactics can be defanged by friendly persuasion; that protection of liberty is a unifying and practical way to live peacefully.”

Sadly, this video is all too relevant today. However, it can also provide us with hope. After all, this film was created just after the OG Nazis were defeated in WWII, which means there were people even then, “back in the day” when we just kind of assume everyone was racist, who wanted to stand up against this garbage. The racism of the white supremacists in Charlottesville isn’t new, but neither is the desire to push back against it.

There are two sides, but only one if you are someone who cares about being an actual human being. Choose wisely.

(via Vulture, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.

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