I used to be a Nazi. Here's how I changed, and what I Learned. (1 Viewer)

Crust Wagon

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______The title isn’t clickbait. About a year ago today, I was a diehard Nazi. To understand how it happened, I’ll give a little background into what kinda person I was, and what was going on in my life at that time.

_______I had begun to take interest in right-wing politics around the age of 15, when the whole ‘feminism meme’ was peaking in popularity. Also around that time, I identified as a female, and was dating another woman who was the same age. My social life was almost nonexistent, mostly due to severe insecurities and self-loathing. Because of this, I strived to be accepted using any means possible. I tried to be different from the other girls, trying to stand out and create a fiery, but laid-back persona for myself. I engulfed myself in my girlfriend’s circle of friends, and tried to sort of follow what she did. I was (and still am) a hugely socially-challenged autist…. Anyways, I gradually began gravitating towards a more online-exclusive social life around the time me and my girlfriend broke up. I won’t go into details, but this was largely because the breakup created a complete divide between us, and sort of forced me out of the groups I was residing in. I gravitated strongly towards sites like 4chan and Reddit, because they were ‘less popular’ and ‘exclusive’ and ‘’’’’’’’edgy.’’’’’’’’ I mostly hung out and saved memes I thought were funny, most of them being slightly sexist and bigoted in nature. I joined subreddits/communities that were more and more ‘’’’edgy’’’’’ as time went on, and participated in the various chat rooms that came with them.

_______Despite being almost entirely engulfed in these communities at the time, I discovered I was trans. It’s still hard to explain exactly how I came to this realization, but suffice it to say, it added a lot of complications into my life. I came to recognize where the stress was coming from, and it grew into a violent self-hatred that spurred on self-harm and suicidal tendencies. The self-harm wasn’t only physical at this point, now it was mental. I purposefully engaged in transphobic behaviors and chatted with blatantly transphobic people, trying to see if they would accept me despite knowing what I was. Most of them were part of the ‘Incel’ community on reddit. My chats shifted to Discord, where I sought out groups that were more and more radical, more and more hateful. I recall the first time I found an unironic group of literal Nazis. At first I was actually taken aback, and started to recognize my own path of destruction and hatred. That realization didn’t last long though, I had found my community. They joked with me, laughed at me, shared seemingly ‘secret’ information with me, and I learned more and more. I stopped thinking of it as a joke. The memes stopped being ironic, I started making them myself to impress them, but my little ‘infiltration’ game was no longer a game at all. I sincerely considered myself a Nazi. The propaganda, the rowdy community, the out-of-context studies…. It completely radicalized me. I won’t get into a lot of detail for the sake of avoiding triggers, but I did some bad things. I said some bad things. Hell, I had a final project for one of my English classes. The assignment was to write an essay on a controversial and relevant topic. I wrote mine on the Trans Rights movement, and took the stance that transgender and nonconforming people were mentally ill and irrational. I literally believed that I was subhuman. I thought that I, and others like me, didn’t deserve dignity, or even human rights at all. I had given up on being a good person, on accepting myself and pursuing any sort of future at all. I felt, in my heart, that my only purpose in life was to spread the Nazi ideology and exterminate myself once the time came.

Yes. I really believed all this.

So there's my Nazi backstory, but now I gotta give the backstory of how I got to where I am now:

_______So I turned 17. For whatever reason, I started to grow bored of my whole online routine at the time. The routine consisted of joining a new underground Nazi server, fucking around and spouting racist stuff, getting all the assholes there to call me “based,” then posting a picture of myself and revealing to everyone that I was trans. Then, I would languish in the ensuing chaos and satisfy my hatred. At this point however, I had become rather infamous. I guess I raised up the ranks because my gimmick created conversation, in chatrooms that were usually pretty inactive. The new groups would recognize me and blow my cover before anyone had the chance to give me the twisted affirmation I desired. So, I tried to find the polar opposite of Nazism. What I came up with was a handful of punk-oriented chatrooms. I remember being initially disgusted with the amount of people there that I considered ‘degenerate.’ In the beginning, I would join a server and immediately post propaganda and false-statistics. That only resulted in me being almost immediately banned, the moderators were NOT in the mood to play my stupid games. So, I kinda tried to blend in a little. I’ve always had an alternative fashion style, and I’ve always listened to alt. Indie, and punk music. So it wasn’t all that difficult. As I became well-liked in these communities, I started to change. It was the strangest thing, I swear to god. I started to instinctually respect people’s chosen pronouns, and sort of understood how people’s political views were shaped by experiences. I still wasn't a changed man, but there was a part of my brain that carried doubt in the things I had come to believe. I took new Fascist propaganda with a grain of salt, sometimes even refuting it upon further research. The biggest thing to change me, however, was one person. One single person I met by chance on a random shitty dating app.

[Trigger Warning: spectacularly sappy and gay romance shit is contained in this paragraph.]

______Let’s just call this person J. J was nonbinary, (something I considered to be a fake gender created by attention whores, at the time), they were unemployed, had face-tattoos, were a passionate anarcho-communist…. and an alcoholic. OH they were also homeless. They pretty much checked every single box I had for a person I considered the lowest of the low. I was intrigued by their passion at first, but upon learning more about them, I harbored a hatred for them. I considered them to be irrational and absurd. Despite that, I was desperate enough for their attention that I gave them my number, and we talked almost every day. They told me about their experiences. We even debated on occasion, although I refused to show them the full extent of the monster I had become. Strangely, no matter how much fascist propaganda I threw at them, they wouldn’t hate me. They wouldn’t even raise their voice at me. They just refused to give me the twisted validation I felt I deserved. Eventually I opened up to them more about my personal life, and they did the same. Stories of their experience with various forms of abuse, with bigotry that caused them harm, and even with the law enforcement I adamantly trusted. My memories of this time are a bit cloudy, but I can remember when something in my mind clicked- I can’t tell you exactly what it was that did it- but I can tell you the effect it had on me.
_______Suddenly, everything I thought I knew was fake. Suddenly I realized that the information I had been fed was a lie. The people I came to call my friends were a group of hateful, intolerant jackasses that only considered me an exception to their perspective of bigotry. I realized they would sooner kill me themselves, than admit that I was a human being, and not a tranny. I was caught in a tailspin. My entire identity sat on a pile of lies on top of lies. The realization caused a variety of things to happen to me, namely, I fell into a deep depression. I had several mental breakdowns from desperately attempting to salvage what I could from the ideology I knew and the person I knew I was. At one point, I attempted suicide. (Everyone I tell about that suicide attempt has received a different story, but in truth, I did it because I felt like I was too weak to change.) I was in love with a person I was led to believe was the enemy, and when I looked into their eyes, I knew in my heart that I had to be better. I knew I had to change. If not for myself, I wanted to do it for them. I recall the night I confessed to them about my past, and about my beliefs upon first meeting them. I was crying, but they were calm. They told me they still loved me. Perhaps they could see the light in me, but I sure as hell couldn’t. Despite that, I tried to commit myself to learning the truth, to changing my hatred and bigotry into love and tolerance. I sought help from them, and things started to escalate with my ‘reeducation’ process. The realizations piled up, the self-hatred exploded into a violent storm of razor blades and leather belts. I couldn’t take it. I felt attacked by the things I was learning. No matter how many different ways I was told that Nazism was wrong, I still felt compelled to defend it. The effects of my past still hung around and haunted me. I could still recite crime statistics, suicide statistics, and other false/ out-of-context examples they had used to ‘prove’ their ideas. I still looked in the mirror and saw myself as a fraud. I still questioned people’s identity and pronouns at every opportunity I got. I fucking felt like I might never change. I took it too fast, it ended up overwhelming me.

______I attempted suicide twice, the second time landed me in the hospital. I was institutionalized for around 3 weeks, and I used that time for self-reflection. I wrote extensively about the falsehood of the Fascist ‘utopia.’ I thought about how I ended up there. How I was taken advantage of at a time when I was mentally weak. How I had been so quick to change myself, and commit my life to a movement with the end goal of exterminating myself, and others like me. I saw myself as degenerate. When I looked into that grimy bathroom mirror, I knew I was a fucking monster. But instead of feeling hopeless with the daunting task of paving over my own mind, I felt oddly determined. I guess I’d rather die a man, than a monster. After I got released, I kept up my research. I kept writing essays, reading articles, watching videos to understand the tactics used by the Alt-Right to drag in kids like me. I started going to BLM protests, being more active, and all of that was fueled and encouraged by J. They never let me lose sight of what was important, and never let me lose hope for a better state of mind. They got me through in ways that changed me profoundly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I wouldn’t be here on this earth if it wasn’t for them. Honestly, this entire thing could just be a big thank you letter to them, cause they helped me with more than just my will to live; they helped me regain my humanity.

This brings me to my final paragraph. The lesson I learned from this whole thing:

______Racism cannot be natural. It runs completely against human nature. To survive, to further the species, and to better humanity as a whole, we’ve evolved an instinct called compassion. Compassion is for more than just our family and friends, but for anyone struggling, or thriving, or just… existing. But racism runs against that. prejudice as a whole runs against that. This phenomenon is created when we carry more compassion for money or material items, than for our fellow humans. The ensuing prejudice is passed down through propaganda and generational teaching, planting the idea into people’s heads. It’s like a mental illness that’s been making its way through gullible motherfuckers for years. Now, like any mental illness, you can’t exactly talk people out of it. There has to be a cure for it somewhere… but of course it differs from person to person. For some people, therapy can work just fine. But others just can’t have their minds changed. In that case, the best thing to do (besides slit their throat), is to teach them a very important lesson: how to shut the fuck up. That way, at least the spread of prejudice can be halted. That treatment isn't exactly nonviolent, of course… Sometimes you just gotta slash a few tires to get the point across. Violent racists are a whole other thing, though. For people like that, there's a variety of solutions that are guaranteed to work: A bullet to the head. A knife to the throat. Public castration. Being stapled to a wall and used for knife-throwing target practice. Being used as a speedbump, or maybe even used as shark-bait… Although, admittedly, I’m sure Nazi flesh isn’t exactly the most satisfying to eat. Torture fantasies aside, prejudice isn’t something that can be solved in a day. It’s also very rarely solved by violence alone. However you feel about the things I’ve said today, I just hope that next time you encounter a racist shithead… you’ll think before you fire a bullet at someone who might’ve been cured by a hug.


Anyways, that's my PSA/spiel/ backstory that no one asked for. I might not have changed anybody’s mind, and I probably made a whole lot of people hate me… but I needed to get this off my chest, and I do hope you might at least consider what I’ve had to say.
Thanks for reading! BYEEEEEE
 
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Coywolf

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*more paragraph breaks*

Yep. That's exactly how Fascists recruit people, find venerable youth and manipulate them to spread their hateful rhetoric.

Good for you for recognizing what was happening to you and having the strength to change your entire self as a person. Very few people can say they have done that. Your friend seems like a great influence.

Pretty brave of you to come out and tell this story.

I seriously doubt anyone one here will 'hate' you because of this. Just as long as you have completely overcame any nazi-fied views or actions.

One of the best parts of being 'punk' or 'anti-fascist' is realizing there is some seriously wack shit in the world, and working to change it for the better.
 

Tekamthi

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Interesting read.. props on overcoming these things. I once identified as a "Canadian", and despite great differences in what this means relative to your own experiences, it led me to some similarly dark places as I came to understand all aspects of this identity. Most won't understand my criticism, as my former collective has some of the greatest propagandists of all time working for them, but I can appreciate the escape from an all-consuming, toxic ideology. Sometimes I still get caught making sarcastic claims under this brand, and even fall into believing them every once in a while. These kind of habits, they die hard.

Anyway, good luck fellow human!
 

Ozarknomad

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Thanks so much for sharing your story. I've been doing some research on adolescence and political thought lately and I've come across so many people with similar backgrounds to yours. I think Erik Ericcson's theory of adolescence being our time to find identity rings true here. We are so desperate to find a community that accepts us (especially when mistreated as children) that we can justify and defend values that we would never support otherwise.

So, the ways in which people think, feel, and act are not random, but methods (healthy or not) they have developed over time to cope. So, I'm so proud that you were able to overcome, but I don't believe you were ever a "monster." Congratulations!
 

Crust Wagon

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Thanks so much for sharing your story. I've been doing some research on adolescence and political thought lately and I've come across so many people with similar backgrounds to yours. I think Erik Ericcson's theory of adolescence being our time to find identity rings true here. We are so desperate to find a community that accepts us (especially when mistreated as children) that we can justify and defend values that we would never support otherwise.

So, the ways in which people think, feel, and act are not random, but methods (healthy or not) they have developed over time to cope. So, I'm so proud that you were able to overcome, but I don't believe you were ever a "monster." Congratulations!
definitely DM me and I can give you a lil insight that may further your research, I'm always open for conversation about it.
 

Ozarknomad

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definitely DM me and I can give you a lil insight that may further your research, I'm always open for conversation about it.
Thanks again! Your story is truly fascinating. I just have a few questions and I think itd be cool if you want to answer- that other folks can see. ;) I'm just curious, (if any) what sort of discourse made you doubt nazi ideas when you were in the thick of it? Is there ANYTHING we can do or say or would make folks more likely to listen?

Addiction tx spoiler alert below
I do motivational interviewing - (its about autonomy- like "I'm not trying to make you get sober" So, im super nonchalant about sobriety, then ask questions that elicit thoughts and client verbalizing their own reasons to change. In addictions treatment, folks are wayyy more motivated when they think it was their idea. I guess I'm wondering if you think that sort of approach would work with nazis?
 

Ozarknomad

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Thanks again! Your story is truly fascinating. I just have a few questions and I think itd be cool if you want to answer- that other folks can see. ;) I'm just curious, (if any) what sort of discourse made you doubt nazi ideas when you were in the thick of it? Is there ANYTHING we can do or say or would make folks more likely to listen?

Addiction tx spoiler alert below
I do motivational interviewing - (its about autonomy- like "I'm not trying to make you get sober" So, im super nonchalant about sobriety, then ask questions that elicit thoughts and client verbalizing their own reasons to change. In addictions treatment, folks are wayyy more motivated when they think it was their idea. I guess I'm wondering if you think that sort of approach would work with nazis?
Sidenote- Also, I'm really not trying to make folks do things they aren't ready for or don't wish to do. This wouldn't work if it wasn't genuine.
 

Crust Wagon

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Thanks again! Your story is truly fascinating. I just have a few questions and I think itd be cool if you want to answer- that other folks can see. ;) I'm just curious, (if any) what sort of discourse made you doubt nazi ideas when you were in the thick of it? Is there ANYTHING we can do or say or would make folks more likely to listen?

Addiction tx spoiler alert below
I do motivational interviewing - (its about autonomy- like "I'm not trying to make you get sober" So, im super nonchalant about sobriety, then ask questions that elicit thoughts and client verbalizing their own reasons to change. In addictions treatment, folks are wayyy more motivated when they think it was their idea. I guess I'm wondering if you think that sort of approach would work with nazis?

Something that is important to understand, its not easy for someone to change unless they actually want to. I ended up with a really mutually benificial friendship with this person, and learning how truly human and compassionate they were, it changed my entire view on people as a whole. Like I mentioned, I knew I had to be better. I kind of realized my own mistakes. It wasn't anything specific, really, although they mentioned being "disappointed in me" when I defended Nazi rhetoric.

Your Idea of making people change for themselves is the right approach. If you come out, guns blazing, assaulting the person and making them feel bad, chances are they won't want anything more to do with you. Nazi's are only human, treat them with the same compassion asa anyone else when you're trying to help them. Not everyone deserves help, but just remember: Nobody is a lost cause. If I could be converted, anyone can. Younger people are easier though, of course.
 

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