The news has been depressing of late. The Republican nominee is one of the worst people to have ever trod our national stage, and his odious pals Rudy (Noun Verb 9/11) Giuliani and Newt Gingrich have been polluting the airwaves with racist bullshit. The Trump campaign is run by the Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Brownshirts or as I call them B3. Many of their supporters are pistol packing ignorami/ignoramuses, what have you. Hillary calls them the basket of deplorables, I call them the MAGA Maggots. Let’s call the whole thing off. I mean that literally: I wish the third debate could be sent to live with Julian Assange in an unknown location and that election day was tomorrow. I usually enjoy Presidential elections but this is one only a motherfucker could love.
I read a WaPo piece today that gave me hope for the human race in the post-Trump era. It was brought to my attention by our favorite Suburban Guerilla, Susie Madrak. A ray of hope from Philly of all places. Imagine that. End of obligatory Philadelphia joke.
Back to the matter at hand. It’s a remarkably well-written article by Eli Saslow about Derek Black. He’s the son of Don Black, the neo-Nazi Stormfront dude. His mother is David Duke’s ex-wife and the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer is his godfather. Derek used to be the boy wonder of alt-right white nationalism. Black the younger was among those to popularize the term “white genocide.” In short, he was the alt-right Tsarevich.
After attending New College in Sarasota, Florida and making a Jewish friend, Derek Black underwent a radical change of heart. He is no longer a skinhead with better hair but has become, I daresay, a liberal. His racist family is horrified:
Derek returned home a few weeks later for his father’s birthday, even though his mother and his half-sisters had asked him not to come. “I think I might be getting disowned,” Derek had written to one college friend. But he was about to leave Florida for graduate school, and he wanted to say goodbye.
He arrived at his grandmother’s house for the party, and he would later remember how strange it felt when his half-sisters would barely acknowledge him. His mother was polite but cold. Don tried to invite Derek inside, but the rest of the family wanted him to leave. “I got uninvited to my own party,” Don later remembered. “They said if I wanted to see him, we both had to go.”
They left and went for a drive, first to the beach and then to a restaurant, where they sat at a booth near the back. Derek still had his dry sense of humor. He still made smart observations about politics and history. “Same old Derek,” Don concluded, after a few hours, and that fact surprised him. His grief had been so profound that he’d expected some physical manifestation of the loss. Instead, he found himself forgetting for several minutes at a time that Derek was now “living on the other side.”
Don asked Derek about the theories that had emerged on the Stormfront message thread. Was he just faking a change to have an easier career? Was this his way of rebelling?
When Derek denied those things, Don mentioned the theory he himself had come to believe — the one David Duke had posited in the first hours after Derek’s letter went public: Stockholm syndrome. Derek had become a hostage to liberal academia and then experienced empathy for his captors.
“That’s so patronizing,” Derek remembered saying. “How can I prove this is what I really believe?”
The Washington Post has done some remarkable work during this electoral annus horribilis. The story of Derek Black’s metamorphosis from racist wunderkind to normal human being is at the top of the list. It’s good to remember that people *can* change for the better. That’s a powerful message at any time but particularly this year when the B3 Brownshirts have moved from the shadows in to the light. The best way to fight these cockroaches is to step on them with your vote.