Monday, June 5, 2017

Something Strange Happened to Me


I went to the March for Truth in Seattle last Saturday. It was a smaller march compared to the other anti-Trump marches I have been to, but it was well organized, there were some great speakers, and it got some news coverage. I wish there had been a bigger showing for something as important as Truth but I'm not surprised that people are getting worn out.

For most, the march was uneventful. I arrive on my own at 10 AM and walked around the crowd gathered in Cal Anderson park, scoping for potential white supremacists. The first thing I noticed that was, um, different, was the bomb squad also sweeping the area, bomb-sniffing dog and all. I've never seen the bomb squad at any march or rally before. I don't know if there was a threat, but one person suggested that it was because white supremacists from Portland were planning on showing up for this march.

As far as I know, no bombs were found.

There was apparently one out and proud nazi at the march, seen here:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Yes, he is throwing the nazi salute in those photos. I only saw this guy at the pre-march rally when he attempted to shout over the host as she was stating the objectives of the march. I didn't hear what he said, but the host politely responded "you can speak to our coordinators to see if there's time," I assume she mean time for him to speak. Immediately after a voice came from behind the host just saying "NO." It was pretty hilarious.

That wasn't the weird part. Neither was the dude all decked out in "MAGA" gear stalking through the crowd. I made some nice long eye contact with that guy and then got a photo of him walking away.

The weird part happened after the march at the end point in Seattle Center. Actually, it started when we were still marching. I was among the stragglers in the back because I'd had to catch up to the march after helping gather signatures pledging to not sign the I-1552, which is a Washington State anti-trans bathroom bill that needs to be quashed before it ever sees a ballot. Anyway, I happened to spot two young men on the sidewalk watching the march and talking. One was white and very bald in a black faux leather jacket. It was a look that to me suggested "skinhead" so I gave this guy a second look, checking him out for signs of nazi symbols and recording his face in my memory.

Unfortunately, he spotted me looking at him and shouted "what?" I looked away, but then looked back to see what he was up to, at which point he shouted "you're staring at me and it's making me feel socially awkward!!" I responded with a sarcastic "sorry" and then went on my way, assuming he was just being an ass but probably wasn't dangerous.

So I get to the Center, take a minute to rest, and then start gathering more signatures. I don't get far when I see this guy again, quite close to me. I attempt to ignore him, but he walks right up to me and says hi. I'm not too worried since I'm white and in the middle of a crowd, but I half-heartedly apologize for staring and he says it happens a lot. I suggest it might be the bald, and he informs me that it's due to a medical condition. There are patches on his head where he cannot grow hair. He shows me the spots where there isn't even a hint of stubble. At this point I do feel bad, and I offer a sincere apology.

But it wasn't going to end there. He asks me if I thought he was a nazi and I admitted that the though had entered my mind. This sparks off a looooooooong conversation - well, not so much a conversation since he did 95% of the talking, in typical white guy style. I'm also not very assertive in face-to-face encounters and am a good listener, and I know this about myself, so once I determined that this was another one of those chatty white dudes, I settled in, deciding that I would extract as much information from him as I could. This is a very easy thing to do with white guys, by the way. Just be a woman and listen, nodding along and making eye contact. Nothing gets these guys talking better than just letting them.

Anyway, a lot of subjects were covered. He started out talking about "certain leftists" who were unfairly judging him, and then went right on to communism for some reason. I offered some defenses of communism for the sake of argument, but eventually let him know that I'm not necessarily a communist and am still educating myself in subjects of economics. I did not mention that I am staunchly anti-capitalist. He claimed to have a degree in economics (research found that he does have an associate's degree in arts with an emphasis in economics) and said that he was once determined to prove that communism was the way to go, but that his studies changed his mind and led him to the conclusion that libertarian capitalism is the way to go.

Based on the "evidence" he offered me, I have serious doubts around this story. But where I became alarmed is when, during one of the points where he was railing against the unfair leftists, he kind of randomly mentioned the group that calls themselves "the republic of kekistan."

You may remember this from that post which got a lot of traffic, mostly from the edgelords who are a part of this group, in which I declared my support for Sophie, the trans woman who created the comic Assigned Male and had her site and social pages attacked, hacked, and defaced by these assholes because she told people to report their Facebook page for harassing people. Facebook found that the page was indeed breaking Facebook rules and took the page down. They blamed Sophie and attacked her very livelihood, plus doxxed her and sent her a ton of death threats, which according to them is a proportional response to what was, at worst, tattling.

I didn't tell him about this. I just stared at him. I didn't know why at first and was later upset with myself for not speaking up, but I think my brain was simply trying to protect me. This guy didn't say that he was with these kekistan people. He only said that they were not in fact nazis but only people who made fun of people who "call everybody nazis." I still don't know if this was out of pure ignorance or something much more sinister, but in hindsight, the fact that he knew what their flags looked like (he asked me if I'd seen their "green flags") suggests the latter. Part of me still wished I had shouted him down right there, but there is a chance that doing so might have been dangerous. If he is at all associated with these people, who are nazis in everything but name, then he is dangerous.

So my brain shut down for a bit as he talked. He went on to argue the merits of capitalism and libertarianism with me poking here and there at his talking points, prodding for deeper thought from him. Eventually the crowd dispersed, but I had been friendly to him long enough that I was pretty certain he thought I was someone who could be converted to his way of thinking. We walked together back toward Cal Anderson park, where my car was and the subway where he was headed, going from the issue of racism and white privilege (he thinks reverse racism is real) to transphobia (he thinks that "not liking dick" doesn't make him transphobic) to body image and health (he thinks that thin = healthy and attractive and didn't mind saying it to my 200+ pound ass) and then eventually decided to catch a Lyft because it was going to be a long walk back.

He used a promotion that got him a couple free rides so I didn't have to pay anything and now I feel a bit like I accepted a favor from a demon, fuck.

During the ride, he brought up again that people think he's a nazi, and started talking about his fellow UW students harassing him, saying on video that they thought he was probably a nazi, attacking him because he went to that UW Milo Youneedtostopolous talk "just to find out what he was about" (because he couldn't google it, I guess), and on and on. He was trying to say this quietly but the Lyft driver could still easily hear, I mean, it was a Prius, not a limo. In perhaps the only way this could not be a racist thing to say, thank fuck the Lyft driver was white. The driver sympathized with him vaguely, hopefully just fishing for a good tip.

I didn't say much during the rest of the ride, not wanting to encourage this guy while the driver was just trying to work. Unfortunately, he kept going, saying that certain UW students were harassing him and falsely accusing him of crimes to the point that he had some kind of protected status with UW security. These crimes included painting a swastika on a dorm door, during which he said he was in California with his girlfriend, whom I have yet to identify in my Facebook stalking of him. And oh, that he had been accused of rape three times.

Cue another brain freeze from me. And then he tells me that this is all coming from a vocal minority, particularly the local antifa. They're violent, he says, and dangerous.

We get out of the Lyft at Cal Anderson park and walk to my car. He says that he appreciates meeting people of different mindsets that he can talk to and tells me to look him up on Facebook. I do not offer him a ride home. I do look him up but do not send him a friend request. Him knowing my face and first name is bad enough.

In the safety of my car, my brain lets my emotions go, and the feeling of skin crawling lasts all the way home and for the rest of the day. I'm still trying to parse out all the reasons why I was so bothered by that encounter. Was he a nazi? I'd say probably not, but there is a chance that he's just very good at keeping that shit on the DL. After all, he's living and learning in Seattle. Though there are out and proud nazis here, but many nazis choose to hide their true nature in order to try and recruit vulnerable individuals.

One of the things that bothers me is the fact that I feel like he targeted me. I was alone, and I am a white woman. Did he see me as a prime target for nazi, or at least libertarian, propaganda and recruitment? Creepy. Gross.

If I were to believe much of what he said, I would say that he is a former white liberal guy who, like many before him, had his feelings hurt when the idea of privilege went mainstream. He pulled out the classic "people say I'm awful because I'm a white man" shit, which no one has ever said, so that's a strike against his honesty potential. Anyway, it could just be that because his feels got hurt, he swerved to the right and found comfort and support there. Now he clearly considers himself to be a bastion of wisdom, says he occupies a "gray area" between right and left, and wants above all to foster understanding and keep the peace.

He also said that he was the guy responsible for the sharing of the "peace joint" between pro and anti-Trump crowds during the Seattle May Day protests, which research confirmed. This was the thing that overshadowed the news of Rosie being surrounded and assaulted by Trump supporters that day. He has gained some mild fame for this and for allegedly being attacked at the Milo event and for being called probably a nazi on video. Minor right-wing YouTube personalities who appear to be at the very least part of the "alt-right" have defended him and made videos about how horrible it is that they did this to such an innocent white man! These include the College Republicans, who brought Milo to UW.

At best he's a classic fragile-ego'ed white man going down a dark path because he can't deal with the idea of having some responsibility for our cultural and systemic white supremacy. At worst he is what he repeatedly said he is not - a nazi. He's also a veteran, and clearly pro-military despite saying he's anti-state. It does suck that he's been labeled a skinhead and nazi because of a medical condition that keeps him bald, but honestly he doesn't have to wear that jacket. And I don't blame people for making assumptions and reacting in such a dangerous and fucked up time. He could have chosen to understand that, but he didn't.

I'm writing this all down to try and get it out of my head and parse out why I still feel so gross and unnerved by the encounter. Part of it is feeling targeted, part of it is just knowing that he might very well be a nazi and is at least supported by and willing to defend some of them. Part of it is being pretty sure that he is a rapist, unless he was lying about the accusations, which I really hope he was.

Part of it is hating that I didn't just yell at him, that I let so much bigotry from his mouth slide by, but I also know that I was not going to be able to change his mind on much anything and I told myself I was fishing for information on this character. Still, I'm always bothered when going away from encounters like that knowing he went off thinking that he got me thinking or some shit, probably thinking that I agreed with him on far more than I did. I'm sure he feels good about his encounter with me, maybe thinks he got through to me, that maybe I'll see the light and become pro-capitalist or think that being mean to white people is wrong and racist, blahhhhh. Maybe it's a silly thing to be bothered by but I always, always am.

I haven't mentioned this guy's name, and that's because I'd rather him not find me. I don't want him googling his name and finding my blog with my full name on it. He may find me anyway, but if that could be at least delayed. I fully expect that he'll be at the so-called "march against Sharia law" and corresponding counter-protest in Seattle on Saturday, and I'm extremely tempted to wear a black bandanna over my face and stick with the antifa crowd so that he can hopefully spot me there with them. It would just be the most delicious moment.

Anyway, if you google the details of this guy, I'm sure you'll find him. Here's a photo:

You can definitely just google search that and find him if you want. I'm not encouraging any contact with this guy. I just want people in the Seattle area to know what he looks like an exercise caution. Particularly women. Remember, this guy might be a rapist.

Here's a list of shitty, weird, creepy, etc. things I've found out about him during my research:

  • Was interviewed favorably by the College Republicans
  • Was interviewed favorably by a YouTube guy called "Duerst The Wuerst," who says he goes around filming "#Triggered #SJW freakouts." That is a direct quote, hashtags and all. Is Facebook friends with this guy.
  • Attended the Olympic College and was lauded in a school paper article for having great speaking skills and giving passionate speeches.
  • Claimed to be against antifa but follows many of their Facebook pages.
  • Also follows pages that clearly are meant to mock antifa or impersonate them.
  • Follows horrible individuals such as Lauren Southern and Alex Jones on Facebook.
  • Is pretty into guns.
  • Is Facebook friends with some people who are clearly "alt-right" neo nazi types.
  • Was accused by a reporter for The Stranger of being an organizer for a horrible anti-immigrant "wall building" event.
  • Goes around recording people at rallies and protests despite people being clearly and vocally uncomfortable with it (but it's okay because "freedom" and fuck everyone else).
  • Calls another white guy trying to get him to leave in one of these videos a "bitch" and says "suck my balls" to him.
  • Clearly people's feelings of safety don't matter to him at all.
  • Doesn't seem to care that people in his videos could be identified by malicious people and harassed, doxxed, threatened, etc.

The more I find out about this guy, the grosser I find him. He may very well be acting as a stepping stone to neo-nazism. It may be fully intentional or self-aware or he may just be a pawn. But with his speaking skills, the term "charismatic leader" has come into my mind. He may be very dangerous. If I wasn't as educated as I am, if I didn't have established defenses to nazi bullshit... it's tough to even think about it.

These are dark times. Be careful who you trust. And don't be alone with this guy.

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