I Got Accused of Being a Nazi Today

This was written more for my Speech & Debate teacher who wanted a written account of why I had started crying in class today, but it tells all.

Today in History, we were talking about Jim Crow. This got me on a chain of thought about the KKK, which got me on a chain of thought about Hitler, and eugenics. Though these first two sentences seem unrelated to what upset me in class today, I find it much more thorough to describe all the events leading up to it, and it sounds better to start out in History class than it is to say that I was thinking about eugenics for no particular reason.

Anyway, I was thinking about eugenics and why, ultimately, it failed. Obviously, it’s unethical, and racist. Highly esteemed people like Ben Stein also like to say that the idea of eugenics came from Darwin’s theory of evolution. But as I was thinking about it, I realized that the racist part of eugenics was group selectionist.

Group selection is an out dated theory that says that groups with certain traits are selected against other groups, in the same way that individuals are selected against other individuals. An example would be a tribe that has individuals within it who are inclined towards martyrdom. This tribe would win more battles against other tribes, and would become more dominant. However, if an individual in this tribe did not possess a genetic tendency towards martyrdom, they would survive longer and produce more off spring, and group selection therefore did not work. The publication of The Selfish Gene in 1976 effectively debunked group selection and stressed that it was the genes of individuals that were being selected. Nowadays, if a biologist tries to use group selection as an explanation of something they (usually) get laughed at.

I found great humor in Hitler’s use of group selection in his eugenics projects (which I now realize is really not something to be laughed at) and, knowing that Ilana had read the same book that I had, knew that she would understand the joke of saying “Hitler was a group selectionist.” After all, creationists love to say that Hitler got his ideas for eugenics from Darwin, and therefore evolution should not be taught. If you say that Hitler got his ideas from group selection, it makes the whole thing look even sillier.

So, I waited until 8th period, when I remembered that I wanted to remind myself to tell her that I had had an amusing (like I said, it doesn’t seem quite as amusing now) thought and I said “Ilana, today in History, I realized that Hitler was a group selectionist.” She giggled a bit, as was expected, but Matt also heard it, and not knowing what group selection is (not that anybody else in that class of highly well informed freshmen knew what I meant by group selection) thought that I was saying that Hitler was good.

The “Lucia is a neo-Nazi” meme spread like wild fire in that corner of the classroom, and I tried my best to correct the assumption. The fact that I had started laughing partly at the original joke, partly at the stupidity of the classroom, did not help much.

Comments ranged from “Lucia! I’m Jewish! I take offense to that,” to, “Don’t bring Esserman into this! He’s Jewish too!”

Lindsey perked up, gave me a very cold look and said very soberly “That is so inappropriate, talking about Hitler like he’s a good person.”

Part of the reason why I took greater offense to this is I suspect that Lindsey is judging me for my religion, or lack thereof. I cite the time I confronter her about not opening the door for us. I said, “I’m just philanthropic like that.” She replied “No. You don’t believe in God because you think that you’re smarter than everybody else. That’s not being philanthropic, that’s being selfish.” Despite the lack of connection between being egotistic (I try not to be) and altruistic behavior, she got complimented by several people in that corner of the room for the comment.

However, it did almost seem like she was perking up because she has been convinced by the good ‘ol “Hitler was an Atheist!” propaganda… I’m skeptical that this is the reason she demonstrates such behavior towards me, however, and I can’t exactly prove it. But, I don’t even recall having a conversation with Lindsey prior to that point when she said I was selfish for not believing in God. I can’t really think of any other reason why she seems to hate me.

But what really set me off was that I’m stuck in this vast sea of ignorance, filled with waves of intolerance. It’s not the prolonged exposure to it that has been bothering me so much lately as to cause me to break down like I did. It’s just that I’ve been consciously acknowledging it more. After all, I did just get a book on anti-intellectualism.

If all I had to do to get accused of being a neo-Nazi was not believe in God (again, that’s not necessarily the reason) and breathe the word ‘Hitler’ along with another word that people don’t understand… It’s just depressing.

I don’t think that I really need to leave my Speech & Debate class just because of this. I just need to figure out a new way of coping. Yes, it’s tempting to just get my GED, drop out, and go to college… but I couldn’t exactly get into a place that would be more intellectually friendly like that. Maybe Metro… probably not CU… and I definitely could not get into a highly selective university like that…

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I think you should stay in the class so that you defend your position all the better. If they want to be anti-intellectual and mistreat you because you’re honest and rational enough to point out the obvious irrationality of religious belief, forget about them. I know that in high school it feels really important to have lots of friends, but do you really want friends that would not be your friend if you were to be yourself? I say be yourself and have friends that you can be yourself around. I’d rather have no friends than have friends that only like me if I suspress certain things about me that I don’t think I should have to supress. I have found that through practicing mindfulness meditation and the tools of cognitive behavioural therapy (essentially this is rational thought, assumption and belief evaluation) I am happier, more mindful and adaptive in the way I look at things, and am less dependent on others.
    I’m a 25 year old outspoken atheist (though I do live in the Toronto area, which is quite liberal) and I have lots of great friends. Moreover, I’ve found that my improved state of mind has also helped me in relating with girls. The independence is a great thing. It allows you to be yourself, live more comfortably, live the way you want to live to a greater degree, and not feel so much need for the affection of others.

    I’m not saying that you should give up on the notion of friendship. You’ll still have friends. But you might lose a few that weren’t apparently that great of friends in the first place—and given how at least a few of them are treating you now, it’s not much of a loss. You’ll have better relationships with those you do relate with because you will have been yourself around them and have been comfortable.

    And honestly, chances are there are a number of other closet non-believers in your school. If you can live independently and with strength, you will help pave the way for others to not live a life in hiding.

  2. (((HUGS))) well done for putting up with it and sticking to your beliefs in a sea of ignorance- it’s hard standing up for your beliefs sometimes.

  3. Eugenics is the only hope for the future along with extreme population control.

  4. Dumbfucks are all around. You’ll live.

  5. Don’t you dare drop out of school. I know it might not seem like it now, but things will look better in a couple of weeks, and in a couple of years you’ll be laughing about it. It’s not worth putting your future in jeopardy.

    If nothing else, just ignore them.

  6. Posted by nbg on February 1, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Hitler was a great man. Too bad he didn’t win the war. The future looked so much brighter back then. All we have to look forward to is population collapse and de-evolution. I’m not happy that I have to witness this in my lifetime.

  7. Posted by Christ Davis on April 25, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Ignore the ignoramuses as much as you can. In my personal experience, dropping out of H.S. to avoid the pod-people was a tactical error. I grew up in a small town chock full of gloriously ignorant folk who literally shied away from the articulate few among them.

    My job these days consists almost entirely of trying to get adult men to stop shoving their own heads in a metaphorical meat grinder shaped like alcohol and crack. To a man they are suffused with irrational ideas, which they are prepared to hold on to into the gates of hell. The species carries a significant number of these. I suspect it always has and will.

    That said, you should install a firewall around your essential self, because you are going to meet many jackasses in the next 6 or 7 decades. You are lucky to have access to the ‘net at your age. I had books, but no one to discuss them with. The kids around you who wallow in their general ignorance can’t take you away from you, and will still be moving their lips trying to suss out what’s on TV while you are deciding where to go to get your Masters.

  8. Posted by dawkinswatch on May 14, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I thought it was I who accused you, hi I hoope you are stilll splendid.

    why are you no following?

  9. Posted by a casual Finn on September 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I think that group selection is not such an impossibility. You’re right in that cheaters could potentially escape from acting altruistically, but such a notion doesn’t take into consideration the obvious possibility that humans could have quite effective means to counteract cheating. Individual members of a group could be monitored and punished for going against common good. For example, other group members could punish the relatives of a “traitor”. Indeed, familial shame and honor is something that is and has been very common in many cultures. Even in today’s age of greater individualism, just think about the so called “honor killings” in muslim cultures or the Japanese concept of “losing face” due to a relative violating some norms.

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