Fighting Fascism 2: Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

What’s one thing we know about American fascism? It is terrified of difference. That is to say, fascists really want you to conform to a certain mold of behavior and identity.

It goes like this, roughly. If you are a white person, you should be straight and cisgender and you should live in a house in the suburbs or rural America. You should attend a Christian church and have at least two children (but probably more because Great Replacement Theory). The man should be the breadwinner. The woman probably shouldn’t work outside the home at all. The man should drive a large, masculine car and the woman should drive a minivan. Both may exercise, but the man should only do cardio and lift weights. The man should enjoy sports, but most especially football and definitely not soccer. And sports, it should go without saying, that are only played by men. The man should enjoy steaks and mass-produced American lager. The woman should eat salads so as to watch her figure.

If you’re a person of color, it’s okay for you to open a restaurant and/or work in service jobs, but by and large you should try to stay where white people can’t see you and not aspire to any kind of leadership position in either public or private life. Also you should probably be imprisoned because of your inherently criminal nature.

Now, to be sure, there are people who live this way. But most people don’t. This, of course, is part of what terrifies fascists. So, in whatever way you can (while, of course, keeping your personal safety in mind), I encourage you to proclaim and celebrate all the ways in which you do not fit the mold that the fascists want you to fit into.

People of color can do this pretty much just by existing, so I’m going to encourage white folks especially to be as open as possible about the ways in which you don’t fit the mold. For example. I am a short man! I don’t view this as a deficiency or as something that makes me inherently ridiculous. Honestly I rarely think about it except when I have to reach something on a high shelf or when I’m in an airplane and I don’t have to have my knees hitting my chin. Also I bike to work. I’m a vegan. I’m not religious.

But I’m a left-winger who lives in the city, so I’m inherently suspicious to fascists anyway. I think it’s probably even more important for white folks who live in the suburbs to let people know they’re not with the fascist program. Because fascists really, truly believe that they are an oppressed majority in this country. And if we white folks allow fascists to believe that we’re the kind of people they want us to be, we’re emboldening them.

So be your own weird self! I’m not talking here just about being queer or genderqueer, (though yes, that, definitely that) but even just saying things that show people all the ways you don’t conform. “No, my wife and I talk over decisions because we’re equal partners. She doesn’t just do what I say. That seems weird to me.” Or, like, “actually my niece is queer, and I don’t appreciate what you said and you need to leave.” Or whatever it is! “I have a basement full of horror movie collectables!” “I am a man and do not enjoy watching NFL games!” “I think it’s bad to kill people!”

I know that this is difficult—there’s a lot of social pressure. (It’s funny, because we talk about teens and peer pressure as if they’re the most vulnerable to it, but I think adults are even more reluctant to make waves and will often go along to get along.)

So here’s something I’ve been afraid to share because of social pressure—like, I know people who will probably find this deeply offensive. But here goes.

I do not think there is anything inherently honorable or heroic about military service. What’s more, the idea that the American military “defends our freedom” is pretty laughable. The last time the freedom of Americans was at stake in a military conflict was in the 1860’s. My dad was a Vietnam-era veteran, and I am confident he would agree with me. (he never got sent anywhere more dangerous than New Jersey, but he did spend time at Astoria Studios in Queens editing Vietnam battle footage so it looked better than it was when the guys at the Pentagon saw it. Maybe that’s why he never really talked about his military service.) The United States should not have a worldwide military presence, and maintaining it takes a terrible toll on people and the planet.

So: be weird! Don’t conform! Fascists hate that!