Nazi Hunting 101
February 12, 2020 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I wish to spot the Nazis.

Specifically, who is using imagery and phrasing to call to others like them, and who are the ones who just happen to use these phrases and images? Who are the edge cases and where is the edge?

Like not the person who is "I am so fucking stupid it is hard to keep breathing but I also happen to think this motorcycle culture symbol that is also Nazi symbology is cool" but the guy down the block who is "I am bolting (with actual bolts) this giant fucking iron cross to the tailgate of my pickup truck because I'm smart enough to not fly swastikas everywhere and I also think certain types of people do not deserve to live"?"
posted by Evilspork to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Also, not people like "we're krazy kooky people and we think using a K instead of a C is kooky and krazy but somehow we never heard of the KKK" but the people who are "this is the Kustom Kar Korner and yeah we wear hoods at home".
posted by Evilspork at 2:22 PM on February 12

Maybe you want the Southern Poverty Law Center Hate site? It includes sections on groups, maps, and symbols that could help you identify these groups.
posted by aetg at 2:51 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]

Black boots with white laces = nazi. We're talking combat boots or doc martens, but this is a pretty solid rule. Black boots with red laces is also something to watch for and avoid.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:52 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Variants of the Punisher logo are also warning signs.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

my take? It doesn't matter. old german saying, "if a nazi sits down with 10 people, there are 11 nazis"
even if they are just playing, or being edgy, it is unacceptable.
also, I find the doc martins color code varies greatly depending on where or when you are so I wouldn't spend time on that.
posted by evilmonk at 2:58 PM on February 12 [17 favorites]

Nazi symbols from Germany, some of these'll be international :
posted by runincircles at 3:32 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Previously linked on MeFi, and sadly overlooked by a lot of the articles on the appropriation of the Punisher logo: About Face - a comic essay about "surface and style normalizing the language of force."
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:17 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]

I would caution against using "black boots with red laces" or other symbols as proof of white supremacy intentions.

My son and his friends refuse to wear blue and only wear red because they don't want to offend the "Bloods" at their school. These are white, middle class boys who have nothing to do with gangs, but they have adopted the style of gang members to fit in. They have no clue what they are doing.

I won a blue beanie from an online contest (with the 76 gas station logo on it) and they all refused to wear it because it was blue. Even though it was freezing outside.
posted by tacodave at 5:15 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

The ADL has a Hate Symbols Database that can be sorted for Neo-Nazi Symbols.
posted by katra at 5:15 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

The boot lace thing is a perfect example of how NOT to do this. It's so, so plausible that someone just liked red laces, or their lace broke and the Duane Reade only had white ones, and they're just out of touch or naive! Even more plausible than someone just being into Norse mythology, or whatever. This is less a solution and more a summary of the problem.

I think the only way to determine how seriously to take these signals is to look for some kind of critical mass of offenses. (We're talking about Nazis, so... two? Better safe than sorry.) If someone has 88 in their email address but their Twitter is all social justice, I'm going to err on the side of them being 32 years old (or a ham radio operator?) and sheltered/not thinking things through/etc.; if they're RTing Andy Ngo, no way. For instance, I have gone to this gym even though the logo featured suspiciously Nordic runes because on careful perusal I just didn't find any other reason to think there was a sinister reason (and there are other associations between strongman competitions and Vikings). But if I'd seen anything on the website that smacked of race science—pretty easy to slip in there if you're a gym and can talk with a straight face about people's physical capacities—I wouldn't have gone. (They now have a page about training packages for cops and if they'd had that last year it would have been enough for me—Norse runes plus encouraging cops doesn't make you a Nazi but it doesn't make you definitely not a Nazi and that's my threshold.)

If you feel safe doing so, you can also reach out to otherwise reasonable-seeming people who are accidentally flagging Nazi and say something like "hey, I don't know if you knew this but my first thought on seeing your email address/logo/boot laces is to wonder if you're involved with some kind of white power movement." If they're not horrified, you found the Nazi.
posted by babelfish at 5:36 PM on February 12 [18 favorites]

(Just want to make clear: only do this if you have a very strong suspicion that they are NOT a Nazi and WILL be horrified! I would not encourage anyone to go around asking plausible Nazis to expand on their dog whistle choices.)
posted by babelfish at 5:38 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Ironically, the Nazis used the threat of who is a Nazi or not a Nazi after the Normandy invasion to such an extent it lead to unnecessary reprisals and even a concerted effort to find a secret hidden Nazi HQ. This lead to the infamous “Who won the World Series” to try and identify real Americans, it didn’t work out so well. So even in the context of actual bonafide Nazis in WWII in a combat zone this question was not answered.
posted by geoff. at 8:47 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I live in an area where red laces were a thing twenty years ago, and I confirmed that it's no longer a thing before I bought my kid red-laced black boots as a Hanukkah gift last year. From my general experience, such subtleties are no longer necessary. We have people openly wearing swastikas now.
posted by Ruki at 9:42 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]

If you want to find actual serious nazis Chicago antifa doxes them on their website (and explains how they do it à la Bellingcat). I have a nazi in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, he looks like about a thousand other generic Chads. Completely indistinguishable despite being part of the Identity Europa leadership and a regular at their public rioting attempts.
posted by srboisvert at 5:52 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]

The only time I've ever seen someone wear black boots with white laces and didn't assume "nazi" is because the person wearing them was black. Where I'm from, it's a clear signal and ONLY nazis do it. Where I'm from also has a long history of nazi organizing, and everyone in the scene gets warned very early what to look out for. I've found it consistent across the country. It's not something to blow off. Red laces may have changed, and purple usually means lesbian. White is still nazis.

And as someone who has had laces break, I would wear sneakers in subzero weather before I wore white laces. You just don't do it.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:21 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

Contrapoints has a video on recognizing contemporary (and online) fascism - I think this is particularly helpful because a lot of contemporary fascist/nazi strategy has shifted from "Identify one's self as a Nazi" to "pretend not to be one in order to gain legitimacy, but signal to others who share your goals."
posted by entropone at 9:44 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]

look for the trump2020 stickers
posted by patnok at 1:48 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]

"If you feel safe doing so, you can also reach out to otherwise reasonable-seeming people who are accidentally flagging Nazi and say something like "hey, I don't know if you knew this but my first thought on seeing your email address/logo/boot laces is to wonder if you're involved with some kind of white power movement." If they're not horrified, you found the Nazi."

Yes, this is exactly the type of thing I'm looking for. Hubby volunteers at Chicago's world famous super gay Leather Archive Museum, and one time we asked to borrow their wifi and we both had an uh oh moment when the wifi password our host gave us ended in 88. This actually truly good person who gave the password to us was shocked and told us she would change it and look in to who set it up like that.
posted by Evilspork at 9:40 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]

"look for the trump2020 stickers"

[sadface emoji]
posted by Evilspork at 9:43 AM on February 16

this actually truly good person who gave the password to us was shocked and told us she would change it and look in to who set it up like that

The response is nice to hear, but the shock is unfortunate. The leather/nazi fetish crossover is a well known and very visible problem, with plenty of Leather people stubbornly defending the wearing of SS insignia and etc. I've seen a picture of a recent Mx. Leather winner in a death's head hat, and it was taken at LAM if memory serves.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:32 PM on February 17

I once was in a café in San Francisco where someone paused and uncomfortably asked someone else about the laces on their boots. Apparently they were pink laces, meant to symbolise gay pride, but had faded in the sun.

There was an expression of relief, followed by agreement that new laces were probably in order but the bootlace thing was almost as outdated as the hanky code.

I used to get really upset because the Doc Marten shop in Covent Garden used to always put black boots with white laces in the window. I pointed it out in disbelief to some friends of mine, who told the story of the "Lonsdale Youth" in Germany.

Apparently the Lonsdale logo, if worn on a t-shirt and covered on either side by a jacket, says "NSDA" which suggests it could say "NSDAP" (the acronym for the actual Nazi party). So it became a really popular dogwhistle brand in Germany among neo-nazis.

When the British firm found out about this, they acted fairly quickly, re-framing everything in a sort of "united colours of Bennetton" ad campaign, and releasing only rainbow-coloured or pink shirts for a year.

But I would second the comment about how modern neo-nazis do so by reaching out to people and saying "Nah I'm no Nazi! I'm just a nice guy, and a realist who is facing facts. Here's some data when you have time to read it." and the stuff sent over tends to be extensively cherry-picked and biased sources trying to support an argument that the actual body of data doesn't. There was a good story on the Blue a couple years ago from someone who was taken in by this sort of Strexcorp-style naziism.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:47 PM on February 18

« Older Entertaining piano videos   |   How can we manage conflict over a pitbull mix in... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments