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A nazi walks into a bar
How people with bad-faith arguments try to legitimize themselves.
I often poke fun at conservatives on my TikTok. Inevitably, the worst of the group finds my videos, and the comments start to fly. Sometimes, they try to explain their god-awful worldviews in a flurry of comments. I usually ignore those people as the words speak for themselves. But I’ve noticed that just as often, the most radical of the bunch will focus not on their views but on convincing me and others that their opinions are worthy of intellectual debate. That they belong at the table, side by side with the very people they wish to harm. And they’ll make this case in the comments while intentionally keeping their beliefs hidden.
These people always start overly polite, attempting to lower your guard. Their goal is first to be accepted in polite conversation. Because once they’re there, the mask can come off. It doesn’t matter if they “win” the debate or bring other people to their way of thinking, just that they’re at the table. Because once you’re at the table, you send a message to everyone in the room that your views are worthy of discussion. And that, in itself, is the victory.
They’ll try every manipulative trick in the book to claim their seat. They’ll try to convince you that, actually, they have many liberal views (while never revealing what those views are of course). They’ll quote MLK at you. They’ll pretend to walk away from the conversation after telling you to “have a wonderful day”, and then continue commenting. They’ll do or say whatever they have to in order for you second guess your objection to their presence. Over politeness turns into guilting tactics, which eventually just turns into outright aggression when they don’t get what they want.
This behavior reminds me of a tweet thread that I think about often. It might just be my favorite twitter thread of all time, as it so perfectly analogizes this tactic.
Here’s the tweet thread:
Of course, not every right-winger in my comments is a nazi, but the strategy is the same— to first be accepted, to be normalized. Because once that happens, they win. You must make it clear every time that they are not welcomed in your space. You cannot give them and inch of good faith. Because their end goal is to be terrible awful people.