over the head with your selfie stick, will you jeopardize future Instagram posts?) When I suggested that Bobby couldn’t possibly find this stuff amusing, he indicated otherwise. “If you like the horseshoe theory of American politics,” Bobby said, still shining his pearly yellows, “the far right and the far left are closer than either believe.” I got to thinking about this after leaving Berkeley, and decided Bobby didn’t know how correct he was. For while Joey and Tiny were falsely-accused Nazis, I’ve ridden with a real Nazi before – at the OccupyWall Street demonstrations of 2011. When surrounded by oddballs, a self-respecting reporter picks the oddest ball... I half admit being nostalgic for that simpler time. Back then, anarchists were more interested in kicking in Starbucks windows than people’s heads. Nobody could say precisely what Occupiers were for – one placard nicely captured the multiple- personality-disorder of it all, demanding to “Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, Tax Religious Groups, End the Wars, Legalize Weed, and Bring Back Arrested Development .” But unlike their spiritual descendants, antifa, they were for more than beating the snot out of people they dislike, then retroactively justifying it as purging the world of fascists. Even if Occupiers had their populist angst and class- warfare impulses appropriated by another radical group (Trump’s Republican Party), they knew they were against the 1%. Which meant, in a begrudging way, that the remaining 99% of us were all in this together – even Sid the Nazi, one of the Occupy protesters I met smack in the middle of Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.
Unlike Joey and Tiny, Sid was a real Nazi. It said so right in his moniker. And even if it hadn’t, the swastika tattoos were a dead giveaway. But though Sid loudly complained about the park’s activist stench of crotch-rot and old hummus, nobody batted an eye. They definitely didn’t try to bring a flagpole down on his head. Sid might have been a Nazi, but by God, he was the left’s Nazi. (“The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, that’s what Nazi means,” he reminded me.) He wasn’t some crazy right-wing extremist, he wished me to know. The left was a lot more tolerant of intolerance back then. As Sid the Nazi demonstrated: “Why am I racist? Cause I’m proud of me and mine, too? I’m German-Scottish and Tuscan/Roman. Italians and Japs were our No. 1 ally.” I pointed out that I didn’t think the Master Race cared too much for Italians. “Oh no,” Sid disagreed, “that’s just Jewish propaganda.” But as Sid the Nazi and I marched, sat in on congas in the drum circles, and skipped the big Labor rally so we could drink at a bar near the Tombs (if there were any good outbreaks of violence, we’d catch it on YouTube), Sid seemed to sense where it was all going even back then: to complete nihilistic darkness. As I informed him that a recent survey of Occupiers showed that 34% thought the U.S. government was no better than Al Qaeda, he rolled his eyes at his fellow protesters. “These people are retarded,” Sid said. Political correctness is not Sid’s bag, him being a Nazi and all. “The country’s political climate is bad, but it ain’t Angola yet. We’ve fallen far, but we have much further to fall.”
American Consequences | 81
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