Neo Nasties

What do Neo Nazis actually do in their free time? Apart from tagging local schools with swastikas that is.

Do they hang out with their K.K.K cousins in white nighties and pointy hats? Can you go skateboarding in gear like that? Do they rustle up a barbeque and decide who they’re going to hate next while they have a few beers and morris dance around a confederate flag in the back yard? How do you know a Neo Nazi when you meet one?

I remember when my cousin became a Nazi in the early nineties. No one told my grandfather, an ambulance driver during the war, and, although a pacifist would have beaten him within an inch of his life if he’d even got a whiff of a swastika on him.

Trying to get to the bottom of his new found fascism I was intrigued to find that it had evolved in an absence of any knowledge of the Nazi legacy whatsoever.

Being empathetic in an anthropological kind of a way I asked if I could join him for a weekend of Naziness, and, excited by the prospect of a few festive days of contrived hatred, I suggested inviting all his hateyist friends round to decide who we were going to mob. Could we start perhaps with all those old pakeha guys who mow their lawns on Sunday mornings when normal people are sleeping. Disappointed to discover these weren’t primary targets, I did learn that Asians and anyone of a different colour was. This would now have to include Rodney Hyde I suppose, unless there are exceptions made for tanning clinics and the reflections from yellow coats. Now that I had the idea, I asked him if we should start by hating the Thai exchange student who was living with me. Apparently not. This was because she was nice. And we knew her.

This whole Neo Nastiness thing was a lot trickier than I’d anticipated. So. We needed to find some ‘not nice’ Asian people that we didn’t know. How would we devise a test to see if a complete stranger was nice or not before we beat him up, I wondered. He accused me of making this whole Nazi deal sound silly, something he was already doing a pretty good job of himself. He said it was about respecting our ancestors and culture. I asked him if he’d realised that most of our ancestors were Jewish. This was not going well. “They’re my friends.” He said of his new skinhead mates. Lame, but there it was.

His first pay check it transpired had gone on his first ever leather jacket, which was promptly taken off him on the bleak streets of Palmerston North when he was beaten senseless by a group of mob prospects. The local skinheads down the road had heard about it and gone and dished out some brutal form of street justice and with self-esteem restored – hey presto! Instant belonging! Friendship! Respect. And everything else that comes with being part of that club, or, ordinarily, a decent job.

I don’t think we need to get our knickers in a twist about the rise of neo-nastiness just because someone’s tagged a few swastikas round the place. Poverty, an underclass of unskilled, uneducated young men who don’t know how to use their time and energy is the real issue.

Taggers don’t belong to surf clubs, they don’t have a mountain bike and they’ve probably hardly ever been to a beach.

The next time you see some kid tagging, don’t tell him off or call the police. Take him fishing. You’ll be doing a lot more than just catching fish.

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