I don't tout these as virtues, though I don't think of them as vices, either. In truth, I'm trying to work on my bluntness. It's certainly done me no favours.
But there are some things I make no apologies for. One of those things is calling people out when I feel they've crossed the line.
I can't keep my mouth shut.
I understand that there are consequences to that.
Speaking out is hard. Doing the right thing is difficult. That's why so few people do it, I suspect. Standing against an overwhelming tide of hatred is scary, exhausting, and thankless. You risk alienating friends and family. You risk angering the mob, and those fuckers will come after you. And what opportunities are you slamming the door on when take the risk and stand up for what is right?
These things are hard to face. Which is why most people elect not to face them, I think. That is why so many people are performing the bizarre mental gymnastics that I've been seeing everywhere. Perhaps that's why they've convinced themselves that standing against Nazis is the same as being a Nazi.
No one who flies the Swastika can claim the moral high ground. They are proudly flying the flag of an ideology responsible for the murder of millions of people. They knowingly claim kinship with this. They pick up that flag and they march, knowing the history, claiming it as their own, fighting for the right to continue their genocide.
You cannot claim descendancy from that ideology and also say that you are non-violent. It doesn't work that way.
And they don't want it to. They are trying to make the world afraid. They understand precisely what they're doing when they march beneath that flag, chant those slogans, and make those salutes. Making people afraid is the goal. Using their murderous history to create the fear is their goal. Those who cower in fear won't be resisting them. Fear is their way in.
I have heard "being against Nazis is the same as being a Nazi" as a phrase is thrown around a lot in the wake of Charlottesville.
No. No, it fucking isn't.
That makes as much logical sense as "being against murder is the same as being a murderer." Because that is exactly what is being said.
We need to decide what we, as a society, are willing to put up with. We don't have to put up with murderous bastards marching in the streets, demanding the world bend to their whims. Society must have its boundaries, or else it crumbles. And those boundaries change as we learn and grow.
It used to be that in some societies, pederastry and the marriage of eight-year-old girls to much older men was not just tolerated, but encouraged. Then we, as a society, learnt better and said Fuck no! to fucking children.
We used to accept the concept of divine rule. Then we, as a society, said Fuck no! to that nonsense.
Hell, America was founded on one giant Fuck no!
The point is, we don't have to tolerate these murderous terrorists in our midst, as much as they pretend we must.
And we won't, if people just stand up and say so.
The unwillingness to do so is incredibly telling about what we, as a society, actually believe. Do we actually believe that bigotry is abhorrent? Do we actually believe that racism is untenable? Homophobia is unthinkable? Ableism disgusting?
Then it needs to be said. It needs to be enforced.
If you are unwilling to do so, then you have to face the fact that you're okay with bigotry. You're okay with racism, homophobia and ableism.
And there is no trotting out the "I can't be racist/homophobic/ableist, I have [insert blank] friends!" Because here's the naked truth: Nazis' crusaded against, and murdered people on these grounds. It wasn't just jewish people they threw in those gas chambers, it was queer and disabled folk as well.
If you are unwilling to stand against those carrying the Nazi banner today, then it doesn't matter how friendly you are with your non-white, queer and disabled neighbours, you are not their friend.
It comes as no surprise that the only people I've seen trying to justify their unwillingness to counter their home-grown terrorists are white. Being white means we can step back and shrug. As long as we're not the ones lighting the torches or running people over with their cars, we're not guilty, right?
And yes, that is true. We, as white people, aren't all doing the terrible things that Nazis have and are doing. But we are also the least likely to suffer from it. We can afford inaction, because the privilege of the accident of our likeliness to get burnt after a few minutes in the sun means that we will be the least affected by what they're doing. So we can step back and wash our hands, like so many Pontius Pilates.
Both sides are as bad as each other, we can claim, forgetting that one side is fighting for the rights of non-white, queer and disabled people to simply exist, free from the threat of genocide. There is no equivalency. None at all. The two sides are not even close.
That fucker who drove his car through the counter-protesters in Charlottesville, for example, said, on a school trip to Dachau concentration camp, "This is where the magic happened." Don't try and pretend that people standing against people like that are the same. They're not. And you know it.
I know when I speak out, I am closing doors. I know that there may be publishers reading this post who will decide that they don't want such a cantankerous, opinionated woman on their publishing rosters.
It makes me sad, and nervous when speaking out, because I want that publishing success more than you can know.
But I speak out anyway, because I believe a world where my nieces and nephews, my goddaughter, and any children I may hypothetically have one day don't have to worry about getting gunned down at school, or run over by a car, by an entitled Nazi who wants to rid the world of people just because they exist and are different from him is important.
And I don't think I'd want to work with a group of people who think the Nazis are alright by them in any case.
I know when I speak out, that there are friends who will shun me. I think I'm quite lucky with my family. Much as I disagree with some of them about other things, I can safely say not one of them is a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser.
It makes me sad, because they're not bad people, even if they're horribly misguided.
But I speak out anyway. Because it matters that I do.
And I'm not sure they're my friends in any case. Are they going to stand aside and do nothing when the hate gets turned to a group I belong to? Friends don't do that. They stand up for one another. If I can't be sure they would, then I guess they're not my friends after all.
I know when I speak out, I will lose part of my audience. People will unlike my Facebook page (has happened), unfollow me on Twitter (has happened), and stop reading my books. My success as an author depends on people reading my books.
But I can't let the fear of professional failure stop me from doing what I so strongly believe is right. So I speak out.
I know when I speak out, I may garner the attention of the bastards I'm speaking about; and the angry mob will come for me. There will be doxxing, threats on my life, and probably legitimate safety issues (don't pretend this isn't something they're known for). I have an advantage, in that I'm white, and relatively unknown, so my voice will get drowned out or thoroughly ignored.
But the threat is always there. Always hovering. And that threat is doing what it is intended to do: silence dissent.
I don't want that for myself. I don't want that for the future. And so I speak out.
I speak out because it is unconscionable to me to remain silent now.
The time for silence is past.
Those standing against Nazis are not as evil as the folk they're resisting. It's dishonest to pretend they are, even if it does protect you to believe it.
So now it is for you to decide.
Either you stand against the hate, or you are with it. There is no middle ground here, much as it comforts to pretend there is.