Wednesday, November 30, 2016

turns out I know that craven nazi shitbag

One night not so long ago I was working late at my desk when one of its legs just dropped off. It fell to the floor with a clank and then, a beat later, an avalanche of papers, coffee, and overpriced electronics tipped towards the floor. I knelt down to investigate and found that the bolt that attaches the leg to the desktop was gone. It was nowhere in sight, which suggests that it detached itself long ago--maybe weeks before, maybe months. I sit there most days for hours and hours, and it's weird to think that all this time the whole setup has been so precarious. It's weird to think I didn't notice till stuff started crashing to the floor.

Lately I feel like I'm losing my grip on things. So when I first saw the picture of the bloated nazi from the Mother Jones "Dapper White Nationalist" profile and thought the guy looked familiar, my first thought was: nah. Surely not. But as it turns out, that bloated nazi was Richard Spencer, a guy I know from our days at University of Chicago. The day after that article went viral on twitter, I watched with the rest of the world as Richard stood behind a podium in a conference room in Washington, leading a room full of white men in the nazi salute. It wasn't long after that when I saw a chyron on CNN: "Alt-Right Founder Questions If Are Jews People." On Thanksgiving, I saw a video clip of Richard explaining to a black newscaster that actually, white people built the pyramids. Yes, I feel like I'm losing my grip.

At U of C, Richard wasn't out as a nazi, but there was plainly something wrong with him. I don't mean that in the spirit of, oh, looking back on it now, there was definitely something sinister going on. I mean that he seemed like the kind of guy who picks his nose and fucks his mother. He could have been a boy king in Game of Thrones. He was badly dressed, pretentious, and arrogant, though of course it was graduate school; there was plenty of that going around.

Some of my best friends in the world are people I met at University of Chicago. But also, Jesus, that school attracts a lot of people who are the absolute worst. Not nazi-grade boy kings, for the most part, but socially disabled jerks who are extremely vested in performing their intelligence. I can handle the socially disabled--they are my people--but people who try to seem smart are some of my least favorite humans. I see traces of such performance everywhere in Richard's media footprint, which is alarmingly large. Ironically, I believe the profile that captured him best was the one at Mother Jones, which has received a huge amount of blowback from people who thought it made him seem glamorous. It's all there: his desperate need to impress, the deep insecurity, the quasi-intellectual conversation. I didn't buy it back at U of C, and I certainly don't buy it now. It is of some comfort to know that the best and brightest cover boy the alt-right can come up with is the charmless likes of Richard Spencer, hunched over his lectern, squinting down at his notes to find the single word of the "original German" he used to impress his fellow boy kings. I do not speak German myself, but I recognize this as a textbook example of what my friend Tobias, who is from the Vaterland, calls "sucking shit out of your fingers."

On Facebook messenger, I read a long thread of my classmates' memories of Richard, which the condescending guy who looks like Moby has been collecting for a piece he's writing for the New Yorker. Some people's recollections echoed my own, painting a picture of a socially awkward guy with a strange affected accent (since dropped) who mocked people if they hadn't read the right things. Other responses reminded me of everything I dislike about University of Chicago. "Maybe if he had spent more time studying Shakespeare he would have questioned the veracity of his views," one woman wrote. "His arrogance likely inhibited any true self discovery." (Imagine having that opinion about anyone. Now imagine that being your opinion on a nazi.) There were pictures, including one from a Halloween party of Richard dressed in a toga. I think I have a similar one around here somewhere. He was dressed as Caesar, if memory serves--a group costume, with two other classmates dressed as bloodstained Caesar and the Ghost of Caesar. (What did I tell you? The worst.) In the Facebook thread, Moby was soliciting photographs. "If anyone has a photo of him with anyone of color, please send those especially," he wrote. You know, I think I may have mentioned this, but lately I feel like I'm losing my grip.

Nazi nip pic interlude

After I read the Mother Jones profile, I remembered that my program's office at U of C archives copies of everyone's thesis for students and alumni to read. The article mentioned that Richard's thesis was on Theodor Adorno, "who he argued was afraid to admit how much he loved the music of [the composer Richard] Wagner." I mean, does that sound like an academic thesis to you: Jewish intellectual #actually loved nazi music? Yeah, me neither. Your girl also wrote on Adorno, as it happens. I contacted the office to have a look. I thought that, in the face of Richard passing himself off as an intellectual--and much of mainstream media buying into it--that reading this really terrible sounding academic paper might be sort of soothing. But I was told that the program, in conjunction with the university's public relations and legal departments, is currently revisiting its policy of letting students and alumni read old theses.

I mention this last part not because I think the University of Chicago is sitting on some big story--I don't think that at all--but because something rubs me the wrong way about a university's reaction to fascism being to batten down the hatches and lock down the exchange of ideas, such as they are. Public relations' involvement is telling; it's hard to see how it would be a complicated a legal matter, given that we submitted those theses with the express purpose of making them available to students and alums. As you may have observed, Moby's forthcoming article bugs me too--something about him soliciting those particular pictures, you know? Something about packaging a portrait of the nazi as a young man for my supposed edification. I mean, maybe it will be great. Moby's absolutely incredible personal essay for xojane, "The Mindless Co-Opting of a Loaded Word: Am I Your N**ga?" suggests that this is extremely unlikely, but of course you never know.

I'm sure that Chris Ware will draw a beautiful cover.

Meanwhile, I still can't find the bolt I need to reattach the leg to my desk. I'm thinking about replacing it with one of those hydraulic contraptions. Maybe I should stand up more. Maybe that would clear my head. For now I've propped up the broken part with a giant garbage can. It's a little off-kilter; probably it could collapse at any time. This fucking desk is symbolizing so hard lately that sometimes I fantasize that Shonda Rhimes is writing my life. Maybe she got tired of dreaming up surgeries that represent Meredith Grey's emotional problems, and has moved on to a gripping series about a sad writer who sits at her tenuous garbage desk as she contemplates her acquaintance with the country's foremost nazi. Maybe she's about to write me a fantastic new storyline where I just go to sleep for the rest of the winter, or possibly for the rest of my life.

Lately I feel like I'm losing my grip on things. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. Maybe it's that nazi nipple staring out at me like an evil eye, the ghost of bad Halloween costumes past. Maybe it's hypnotizing me. Mitt Romney is sounding pretty damn good as Secretary of State, right? Maybe Shonda's doing an episode where the Overton window is literally in this garbage can propping up my desk. It is the only explanation. I'm thinking about printing Moby's xojane article so I can keep it in my wallet. Feels like I'm gonna need it for whatever comes next.
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18 comments:

  1. Richard Spencer is a kindhearted and intelligent man. This hateful libel is noting but vicious bigotry and intolerance.

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  2. While you wax poetic on the social injustice present in children's cartoons, Richard is working to help preserve our people's posterity, identity and future. Who's "second death" will come first I wonder?

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  3. Congrats you just coined the phrase 'Nazi Nipple' you will be immortalised in Memes for ever.

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  4. The gorgeous irony of a nobody blogger criticizing someone for "quasi-intellectual conversation" and a desperate "need to imrpress."

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    1. Nobody cat lady with Desk Issues writes endless stream of 0-comment-having, no-fucks-given-about blog posts. Comics and TV.

      She breaks form, and fascist frog brigade showers her with more comments in 1 day than she's got in years.

      Think she'll write about her Boy King again?

      Do women like attention?

      Delete
  5. Dickie Spencer tweeted a link to this hahaha

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  6. I'm sure Richard Spencer can help you get a better grip on things.

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  7. King Tut was Eastern European, born out by DNA evidence. Niggers were never Egyptians, ever

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  8. As a graduate of The College at Chicago, I believe you're a disgrace to the university. This sort of sophomoric confidence masking insecurities and ignorance is precisely what the Common Core was supposed to cure. You should go back to your Euclid rather than throw rocks at better men, nerd.

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  9. Wagner died half a century before the Nazis existed. Is it so hard to believe that a Jewish person could enjoy his music?

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  10. The content of the article is what you would expect from a gossipy highschool girl. Searching for dirt on people from when they are young, calling names without really examining the beliefs, laced with exasperated dramatization. What would the world do without bloggers like you?

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. She's probably still pissed that Richard spurned her advances. Years later, it's still burning her up inside. Sad!

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  13. Richard Spencer is a good boy. An honor student at school. He didn't do nothing.

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  14. So you had a major crush on Richard and he never returned your affections - get over it, little girl. Looks like nobody is visiting your blog aside form his supporters. You're pretentious. You're nobody, he's somebody, and you're butt hurt about it.

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  15. Whoever wrote this seems to be projecting their own inflated sense of self onto Spencer.

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  16. I realized some time ago that I once had an encounter with Richard Spencer in Chicago some years back. My impression of him was that he was thoughtful and kind.

    By the way, "The Shallow Brigade" is an excellent choice of title for your blog.

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  17. first of all, Richard Spencer is NOT a Neo-Nazi. That's all sensationalist journalism. The Roman salute was probably a bad choice, but, the causes which he stands for are vital. There's a cultural and ethnic war being waged against my people. and, something MUST be done to stop it.
    As for other issues, it's off topic, but the pyramids were NOT built by Sub-Saharan Africans. The builders were closely related to us. It's not very relevant, but, we sometimes use that argument against Afrocentrists. His alleged comment about Jews was a false misquote. But, since you mention it, Organized Jewry is the biggest threat imaginable. even more than radical Islam. SO, in that aspect, Zionism must be addressed.

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