Nearly 15 years ago, comedian and singer/songwriter Stephen Lynch released the song “Little Tiny Mustache” on a live album. The ballad follows the first-person perspective of a dull-witted boyfriend who begins to put things together, realizing his girlfriend is a white supremacist and he needs to get out of the relationship.
In the song, the girl “quoted Mein Kampf in our fifth anniversary card,” drives a World War II German Panzer tank and offers up advice like “for every problem, there’s a final solution.” The words in the chorus change, but center on some variation of “I think you’re a Nazi, baby. Are you a Nazi? You might be a Nazi, baby.”
Naturally, comedic references to white supremacist ideals or actual Nazi rhetoric, even when deriding such concepts as entirely wrong, walk a fine line because of the atrocities associated with them. Lynch is able to frame the song in a way that’s agreeable enough.
Listening to the tune in 2019 is almost refreshing. It evokes a wistful sentiment of “Remember when we all thought Nazis were bad?”
Never did I ever think I’d see an America where something that definitive could become convoluted. But the caustic rhetoric of the Trump administration seemed to give white power and neo-Nazi groups a mainstream toe-hold in discussing national issues. This was helped greatly by the president’s clear disdain for immigrants who aren’t white, and subsequent brutal policies at the southern border, along with attempts to ban entrance to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority nations. Trump’s inability to completely denounce endorsements from hate-group leaders and his waffling on decrying white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia — including a man who drove a car into a crowd and killed a woman — are equal parts disturbing and disgusting.
It might be easier to understand why a 73-year-old white man like Trump, whose father was a bigoted slumlord, dislikes minorities and immigrants who aren’t white (not that it’s excusable). But, seriously, you can’t come out against Nazis?
Both of my grandfathers served in World War II. I’m fairly certain they knew the Nazis were the bad guys, and they never wavered from that view in later years. In fact, most of Western civilization as it is now constructed is in place to make sure no nation ever again tries to exterminate six million Jews or other religious or racial minorities.
Even in mainstream fiction, the line has always been pretty clear. Indiana Jones punched out Nazis with regularity. Good enough.
Yet here we are on the verge of 2020, and some Nazis are, apparently, “very fine people.”
A lot of this comes from Trump himself, although ex-adviser Steve Bannon, and his protege Stephen Miller, also played a large role in shaping the administration’s views and policies on immigration. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released a report on Miller’s fanaticism concerning white supremacy, mostly coming from emails he sent to reporters at organizations like Brietbart. These communications provide insight into a dark soul consumed with brutalizing and containing nonwhite immigrants.
Miller seems particularly concerned with the lunatic fringe concept of “white genocide” — that somehow white Americans will become the minority in the U.S. and other races will kill off or enslave Caucasians. That’s particularly telling of the type of projection and paranoia floating around in these circles. They figure European whites enslaved and tortured minorities, so, of course, the same thing will happen to them if they don’t keep those minorities repressed.
Miller’s ideals mark him as an evil man. Dress it up all you like, take as many angles as you want, but some things are just true. Beyond that, though, are other troubling implications.
For instance, whenever the U.S. sees a surge of a particular brand of racist rhetoric, we always tend to rely on younger generations saving us from ourselves. They don’t see color, race or class. They will treat everyone as an equal. But Miller is, himself, a young man. And he was raised in a culturally diverse setting. In fact, he comes from a Jewish family. Yet the seed of hatred for and fear of immigrants and minorities still found purchase in his heart. One look at Charlottesville shows there are hordes of younger people still willing to buy into such repulsive ideologies.
We tell ourselves that most of these people come from backwaters where they’ve never known a minority and are simply uneducated. In some cases, maybe that’s true. But Miller grew up in Santa Monica, California, and graduated from Duke University. He might not have had a lot of non-white friends, but you can’t argue he didn’t get an education.
And, while so many have come and gone from the Trump administration, Miller is still there, whispering into the ear of a powerful fool.
I think he’s a Nazi, baby. And there’s nothing funny about that.