conflict: part two, “he’s a nazi! what the bleep!”
something I found and it’s beautiful
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just To Say”
where I see this in the bible: 1 corinthians 13:5
Love isn’t always “me first.” It isn’t rude. It’s not easily irritated. It doesn’t fly off the handle. It’s not overly sensitive. It doesn’t keep score. It does not remember when it’s been wronged.
Paul, Letter to the Corinthians
how it relates to the conversation
It would be so much more convenient if we were perfect. But we are not. It’d be simpler if we didn’t like each other. We could dismiss each other. But, we crave each other. We drool over each other. We’d like to swallow each other whole. It’d be so much easier if we were coming from the same ethnic and racial footprint. It’d be boring (and, in my personal opinion, not as sexy). He loves my skin. I love my skin against his. But, it’d be easier on those days when it’s really, really hard, and we forget how to speak each other’s language. Sometimes, we don’t understand each other’s native tongues for the word love—and so, we sigh together in unison.
the conflict- part 2, “He’s a Nazi! What the bleep!”
If this guy can have this TV show that has this huge following show up with cameras—even though as far as we know they didn’t directly focus on any of the confederate or Nazi stuff— and appreciate his collection… well, what the what!
The hosts also thanked him for his service to the country.
They did because he served in the military. So conflicting. So confusing.
All of it was really, really hard for me because I felt like the show was giving this man an okay to continue as he was, and patting him on the back. And so you and I had this debate…
I suppose it was a debate.
In the past, you and I have talked about giving the benefit of a doubt. So my benefit of a doubt kicked in, in a big way because this was pretty horrible. I though, there’s gotta be a reason why this is on TV right now.
He had already said that he rents out all of this stuff for movies and a lot had been used in movies. I’ve heard about people who collect WWII memorabilia including Nazi materials because it’s part of the whole story, and WWII wouldn’t have been without them.
So, I’m going through all these things in my head… he’s a military enthusiast. He’s a military man himself. He rents out all this stuff for props. I mean, he had a Hitler Youth uniform, for crying out loud. So, there has to be a reason for this. It can’t just be that he’s (snaps his finger) you know, a Nazi. Because why would they put a Nazi on the show?
So, that’s what was kicking into my mind. Whereas you immediately went to, “He’s a Nazi. What the bleep!”
Yeah I went to some places. I did. I went some places.
And I wasn’t convinced necessarily right off the bat that that was the case. For the record, I am now. But, it took me some time to get there. And, I had to be honest with what was at play: Was I fearing losing the show that I loved? Maybe that was a part of it, and I was trying to salvage it, right?
Yeah, of course.
But also, the thing that I’m really learning is that my white privilege is something that I can rest in. Not that I should ever rest in it. I absolutely shouldn’t and I don’t want to. But when I see things like that, I’m not immediately threatened by them. I could walk into that place too and he’d be fine with me walking around and checking it out. I would still be creeped out by him. I wouldn’t be friends or anything.
Well, of course not. He couldn’t know that you had me at home as a wife.
No that would be a problem.
So yeah, it wasn’t something that I could just leap to because I just didn’t want to. I wanted to see that there was something different in it—maybe something logical. I wanted to see that there was a reason beyond what was really glaring right at us, which was that this guy was clearly into the Nazis.
But, here’s the thing: I was not just triggered because I saw a Nazi flag or because I saw a racist symbol. I wasn’t just triggered because I saw or witnessed a racist emblem. That would be a waste of my life’s energy because that’s everywhere—especially here in Texas. We see confederate flags all the time. We hear racial slurs all the time. I don’t have time to sit and be fearful about that kind of ignorance. But this was on a TV show without any explanation. This was on a network that isn’t ignorant of our history. It’s called the History Channel.
It takes a lot to prepare and produce an episode of a TV show. It takes a lot of time to decide what to feature and what not to feature. This particular episode featuring this guy didn’t have anything that was so extraordinary that he even needed to be on the show. They have so many people that they feature on the show, but they chose him. I don’t have a lot to say about our president, generally. I don’t have to because I think my feelings are clear about where I stand. But watching this episode made me think about all of the racist things he has said, and it made me think about all the times that he did not address blatant racism and hate in our country, and it made me wonder what in his leadership, or lack of leadership, has filtered down to this guy, the producers of this show and the hosts of this show to make them think that airing this episode was okay?
Secondly, the part about this military enthusiast who just happens to be a movie prop person also. I was fine with that. But, the show has visited movie prop houses. Those collections are usually carefully cared for or tenderly stored. But, no. Most of this guy’s collection was a horde. The place was a disaster. In the middle of each room was literally a pile of what you would think was just garbage. However—all around what truly was precious to him was carefully displayed and cared for. From what I saw, all those things were Nazi, Confederate etc... The hosts of the show had to dig around for the stuff that was not Nazi related. However, if they had come in and just wanted Nazi related stuff, they would had to look no further than to reach out and touch a wall and it would have been right there. It would have been as easy as picking an apple from a tree.
Imagine if a library did a whole display of nothing but Nazi memorabilia and books written by Nazis and Hitler. They had just as much WWI materials and artifacts but those items were scattered and in disarray. But, the Nazi stuff was presented with pride—more pride than the American flag. Imagine that. Pictures of Hitler framed front and center on display, but not a single photo of Churchill.
It was so confusing because he was so proud of his uncle who was one of the first to touch ground in Normandy. But he also had autographed pictures of German soldiers. Which was weird, because why was he calling them German soldiers? There were no German soldiers. There were Nazis.
He did show them a Nazi flag that was signed by American soldiers. It was very confusing which is why I was trying to figure out where he was coming from.
Maybe the German soldier pictures were from WWI? Even still, who collects autographs of the losing team? Didn’t they lose both wars?
Regardless, the whole point of is that it was a realization that we as a bi-racial couple were having two separate experiences. And, I felt that you weren’t being very sensitive to my feelings. Because unlike you, I didn’t want a reason. I didn’t want an excuse. I didn’t want to know a why. To me, there should never be a why for that to be on TV in the way that it was on TV—at least to me. It wasn’t a documentary, or a movie, or trying to show history in its worst light in order for us to be better people. So for me, it was just offensive, and I felt offended that you weren’t as offended as I was in the moment. It felt like you weren’t in it with me and I felt really lonely as your wife.
So, we had to take a pause and grieve that. And, I was mad that they caused it. I felt mad that my world had to be interrupted by it. You know? I wasn’t seeking that.
And, I was offended too. I was mad too. That was my response too. I was mad that any of it had to happen.
But, I’m grateful for it now because it took us to a deeper place. It took us to things that I had never said—not about our relationship, but about how I felt in the world and the constant battle of being so vulnerable to these things. Plus, I was jealous that you could make the choice that if you wanted to you could excuse that episode and continue watching that show and not feel anything about it…
That was never going to be the case.
Yeah. But I was jealous that you had the choice. You know? I knew that was never going to be the case. But, I couldn’t help but to wonder that if we never met, would you have made that choice. It’s a terrible and perhaps even an unfair question. But I couldn’t help but to wonder if you would have just watched the show and thought, “Well, that’s messed up,” and went on to the next episode.
It’s the fact that you get the choice. But then I remembered that I get that choice too.
I recently had to deal with my own complicity with racist things in regards to Native American heritage and Thanksgiving. I questioned was I going to simply continue to celebrate the holiday per usual because it’s not my heritage. Or was I going to be moved with compassion and change? In the end, choosing the latter was much more important to me. And, I’m still figuring it out. Do we celebrate Thanksgiving? If so, how do we do moving forward in doing so that’s honoring to the whole story? Because that’s what white supremacy is. It’s the supreme normal of one narrative—in this case, a white narrative—that makes every other narrative not as important.
I’ve had people question a couple of my post on Native American Heritage and Thanksgiving because the idea that we would have to rethink of Thanksgiving is overly dramatic. I get that because it’s the one holiday that everyone gets to be good. We’re all being thankful. How can that be wrong? We all get to express our gratitude and gratitude is good, right? It’s a virtue. But, this year, I had to ask myself, “To whom do you owe your thanks? Who’s blood made it possible for you to have this family, this home, this turkey and all that you feel so grateful to have? Trace it all they way back, and are they having a Happy Thanksgiving? How have we thanked them? Was thanks given, or was it taken?
So, there were a lot of questions. And, many people felt, “Hey, don’t mess with Thanksgiving.”
But to continue our story: This all happened the Sunday after Thanksgiving and it was a sad night. I was sad and you were sad. We weren’t feeling very grateful.