A few nights ago, I blogged about the shock of seeing a Nazi flag hanging in my neighbor's bathroom. I've been in a pretty yucky mood ever since, hence this attempt to exorcise some of that disgust.
First, I would like to emphasize that I'd known this guy for all of three hours prior to that discovery. My impression hitherto that moment was rather positive, which made the immediate aftermath all the more confusing. My friend A's Facebook comment on the blog post link pretty perfectly described my reaction. In response to my neighbor calling his Nazi flag a "funny shower curtain", A wrote:
"The 'funny' part of it is baffling to me. I'd imagine most neo-Nazis don't find the swastika funny. Was he just trying to gauge your reaction to see if you're in the club, or is this some sick new depth of southern hipster irony that found the wrong audience? I suspect the former, but it's incredibly depraved either way."
Initially, I also assumed my neighbor must have been assessing my sympathies. And the notion that a white supremacist would ever wonder if I'm "on the team" was perhaps the single most revolting piece of this richly fucked incident. Well, a bit of new information has emerged by way of a friend-of-a-friend. This person (whom I've never met) knows and detests my neighbor despite the fact that many among their music scene peers regard him highly. Her impression, as far as I can make out, is that he embraces offensiveness as a way of being avant garde. So maybe - big, FAT maybe - he's just one of those dudes who likes to get a rise out of people, a.k.a. a troll. As far as my primal sense of safety is concerned, that's a smidge better than living down the block from someone who dreams of human genocide. But as far as his character is concerned, all it really means is that he's a narcissist and a sociopath in addition to being a bigoted piece of shit. Nazi or not, nobody gets a pass on that void of basic human respect.
I'd also like to mention that my piece of shit neighbor is a Philly native and a recent transplant from New York. My guess is that he thinks he can get away with bandying hate symbols "ironically" and passing it off as art in a place like Chattanooga because he assumes the local hipsters are too apathetic, ignorant and/or racist to call him out. But I suppose I'll never know for sure as I have no intention of sharing a civil word with him again.
Besides, the details matter little. It's pretty simple - fuck that guy, fuck his flag and fuck his idiot friends for associating with such garbage. No gray shades here. It's all chiaroscuro.