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Making Fun of Nazis

The New York Times has an excellent article on how to deal with white supremacists, racists, and Nazis. They call it “humorous subversion” but it really is just making fun of them. Here’s one example:

For decades, Wunsiedel, a German town near the Czech border, has struggled with a parade of unwanted visitors. It was the original burial place of one of Adolf Hitler’s deputies, a man named Rudolf Hess. And every year, to residents’ chagrin, neo-Nazis marched to his grave site. The town had staged counterdemonstrations to dissuade these pilgrims. In 2011 it had exhumed Hess’s body and even removed his grave stone. But undeterred, the neo-Nazis returned. So in 2014, the town tried a different tactic: humorous subversion.

The campaign, called Rechts Gegen Rechts — the Right Against the Right — turned the march into Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon.” For every meter the neo-Nazis marched, local residents and businesses pledged to donate 10 euros (then equivalent to about $12.50) to a program that helps people leave right-wing extremist groups, called EXIT Deutschland.

They turned the march into a mock sporting event. Someone stenciled onto the street “start,” a halfway mark and a finish line, as if it were a race. Colorful signs with silly slogans festooned the route. “If only the Führer knew!” read one. “Mein Mampf!” (my munch) read another that hung over a table of bananas. A sign at the end of the route thanked the marchers for their contribution to the anti-Nazi cause — €10,000 (close to $12,000). And someone showered the marchers with rainbow confetti at the finish line.

Will such tactics work in America? They have!

We do have similar examples of humor being used to counteract fascists in the United States. In 2012, a “white power” march in Charlotte, N.C., was met with counterprotesters dressed as clowns. They held signs reading “wife power” and threw “white flour” into the air.

“The message from us is, ‘You look silly,’ ” a coordinator told the local news channel. “We’re dressed like clowns, and you’re the ones that look funny.”

The bottom line is “nonviolent movements succeed because they invite mass participation.” Humor can do that; violence less so.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    ten ways to fight extremism

    If the article way is tried with money, then it could go to SPLC which has sued and won in court many of these groups. Plus they track them.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 5:50 am | Permalink
  2. Wildwood wrote:

    What I don’t see in your post or the article is whether the Nazis are still marching and has anything changed. I think it’s a great idea but has it helped in that town?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink
  3. rk wrote:

    I also wonder how effective their strategy is. Personally, I would think it more effective to raise money for minorities, LBGTS communities, Jewish communities, and whatever else Nazis hate.

    I’d also like to see people desert a community before these hate groups come. They want the publicity, what if they marched through empty streets?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  4. Rachel Biel wrote:

    Well, that took me down a rabbit hole of reading and watching! I love these concepts and now they are being replicated here in the US. I just joined one group on Facebook, that is leading a Make Lemonade action at Nazi demonstrations, along with other nonviolent actions that defend the Constitution.

    Wildwood and RK, from what I read, it looks like the Nazi marches are still happening, but they have dwindled in size and they leave right away instead of trying to hang around and recruit new people.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  5. Wildwood wrote:

    I’ve since done some reading as well. First, Germany does not have free speech in the same manner we do so they have implemented laws against many types of what are considered free speech here. The town in the article has been able to get the German government to ban the demonstration under a statute in the German criminal code, which outlaws incitement of the people.

    I think if the news outlets would stay away, if the counter protesters would stay away and if the citizens would stay home and ignore them it might work better. That’s not going to happen, so I’m not sure what will.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

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