Laurie Penny: A Letter to my Liberal Friends

A Letter to my Liberal Friends

Laurie Penny, The Baffler, August 15, 2017

The road to fascism is paved with good intentions.

It should not have taken this long. Right now, there are a lot of well-meaning people, people who desperately want to believe in their own goodness, who only opened their eyes to the reality of modern fascism when the world woke up to Nurembergian images of screaming white boys in polo shirts with torches marching on a college town. There’s only so long you can run from reality before it recruits you.

It takes a lot to let go of your belief in the system. Moderate conservatives and a fair few market liberals are still clinging with quasi-religious desperation to their faith that the shuddering, mortgaged machine of Western democracy will stop bad things from happening, at least in their town. Many of the same people have persuaded themselves over the years that the young men publishing manifestos and gunning down civilians in cold blood were simply mentally ill “lone wolves.” Many of them doggedly insisted daylight would be the best disinfectant for abhorrent ideas about race and gender, mistaking those messages for some sort of smear on the windscreen of society rather than a fucking tree fallen in the path.

Those people were wrong. That doesn’t mean they weren’t nice people. But in the words of Naomi Shulman, “Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’ They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.”

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