. Stop trying to educate fascists | Ceasefire Magazine

Stop trying to educate fascists Comment

As a teacher, I believe in education and positive discourse. But you can’t engage with people who deny your humanity, and it is useless to take a ground of moral suasion with people who do not have morals, writes Mike Friedberg.

New in Ceasefire, Politics - Posted on Monday, September 7, 2020 15:22 - 1 Comment


‘Dismantle White Supremacy’ projection on General Lee’s Statue in Richmond VA, by Maryland Solidarity Brigade (Credit: Richmond DSA/Backbone Campaign, licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2007, I worked at Quartet Copies, a print shop in Evanston, Illinois. My manager at the time, Vic, found out I was Jewish. In front of the whole staff he joked, “Hey Mike, what’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza? A pizza doesn’t scream when you put it in the oven.” I locked myself in the bathroom at work, crying. I didn’t know how to assert myself and I fled in fear. I thought about trying to persuade him to realizing why he said was wrong, but instead I just tried to escape. 

White supremacy can take many, many forms. It can be verbal, institutional, and violent. And unfortunately, we have to, once again, talk about when it becomes fatal.

It is nauseating to think that today we as a country are once more reckoning with white supremacist violence. Here we go again. Another set of body cameras turned off. Another innocent Black man shot. The term “innocent” should not be necessary for clarification, because cops shouldn’t be shooting guilty people either.

Just like we had defenders of George Zimmerman, we have defenders of Kyle Rittenhauser. The same people who claim to support “law and order” seem fine with a seventeen-year-old vigilante illegally carrying firearms across state lines to commit murder. And we have a president defending a killer. We shouldn’t be surprised at this point. My grandmother, a Holocaust refugee, referred to the Right as “creeping fascism”. Rest her soul, there is no more creeping.

But white supremacy is not limited to the Right. As we approach an election, we are being subjected to more liberal racism. Bette Midler mocked Melania Trump’s English and Joy Behar suggested that no one really wants to defund the police. Conservatives assert how many white liberals are elitists. They are correct. Supposed ‘progressives’ will gladly read a New York Times article on racism and pat themselves on the back but cross the street at the sight of a Black man. I know, as I have witnessed it in my own family.

And yet the Democratic Party here in the US seems to be approaching the same suicide mission strategy in defeating Trump, trying to reach a nonexistent “middle ground”. If you watched the Democratic National Convention, it was clear that they are still taking for granted the votes of Black and Brown voters, instead trying to reach the poor white voters who consistently vote against their own self-interests.

But let’s be lucid. There are no commonalities to be found with defenders of fascism. These are not simply differences of opinion. The calls for “civility” were repudiated years ago when their chosen candidate denied the citizenship (and thus humanity) of the first Black president. The same self-righteous conservatives who were offended by a popular song voted for a man who bragged about sexual assault. They hate when Black women take agency of their sexuality and sing about their own pussies, but are fine with the president grabbing them.

We hear racists calling for civility. But there is no common ground.

Republican politician Rick Santorum noted on CNN recently that these two sides hate each other and can’t understand the other’s position.
I never thought I’d say this but you’re right, Rick. They support fascism; we don’t. They are white supremacists; we are against white supremacy. They support the ability for open state violence against Black people; we believe Black people are human beings. So spare me the calls for ‘civility’.

As a teacher, of course I believe in education. Of course I believe in positive discourse. But you can’t engage with people who deny your humanity. It is useless to take a ground of moral suasion with people who do not have morals.

We must focus on antiracist policy. And let’s be clear: Democrats have been completely useless in facilitating this. They are calling for “reforms”, conveniently ignoring that when Eric Garner was murdered there was already a ban on police chokeholds. While I don’t believe voting is completely futile, it is clearly not enough. It should be noted that the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder have led to more significant changes than years of work by Democrats.

To educators, antiracist policy can take a myriad of different forms. In the Covid era, the questions of inequity have been exacerbated, as we watch students doing their school work outside of a Taco Bell for Wi-Fi access. ‘Equity’ today is a buzzword, and many have different ideas of what equitable outcomes look like, from test scores, to access to resources, to school funding, to arts programs, to basic safety in one’s community.

My point is not to get into debates over these important topics, although those are valid discussions. But what is not worth our time is trying to persuade racists. There are white supremacists in our society, including some working in our schools. No amount of persuasion can fix them. They refuse to legitimize the existence of BIPOC, just like my former manager tried to invalidate my Jewish ethnicity. There is no point in trying to educate them. For one to grow, they have to want to learn. Fascists have no interest in learning. Stop trying to educate them.

Mike Friedberg

Mike Friedberg is an American writer, teacher, and activist. He has written for Ozy, Chicago Unheard, and Education Post. His thesis will be published in an anthology on urban education next Spring. He can be found on Twitter at @MfriedbergTeach

1 Comment

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Tbone malone
Jan 29, 2021 4:50

Leave it to a chosenite to dictate our morals to us. Oy vey! Like ypur father Satan u sit on a throne of lies.

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