Tag Archive: Politics


Up until I was twenty one years old, I wanted to be a cop. Specifically, I wanted to be a Fed, working public corruption cases. I had my whole beat figured out. Undergrad in political science and criminology. Law degree. FBI. Public office. I had neoliberal Appalachian rags-to-riches legislative ambitions.

I was making waves in WVU’s political science department as a potential candidate for the Truman scholarship. I was a well-respected RA in the school dorms, and I was active in student government. I had great grades, and I was heavily involved in a political summer camp for teenagers each year — where I was developing an important and formative friendship with an FBI agent. I had roots of fond supporters throughout the state.

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My grandfather told my mother we were Jewish on his deathbed.

That was the observation I fixated on as I watched Dekalog: Eight. My maternal grandfather’s family name is Swartz. “Swartz” was the Anglicization of the very German and very Jewish “Schwarz”, and it was the name that my forebears were given when they immigrated to America in the early 20th century. My narrow line of the Swartz tree settled in West Virginia, and at some point between the 1910s and the 2000s, our Jewish identity had become such a point of shame and was covered in such secrecy that my mother — a devout Evangelical Christian — was in her 40s before she found out she was Ashkenazim.

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Letters and Long Car Rides

It was around this time last year that I came out to my parents.

It hasn’t quite been a full year. I sent my parents my sprawling coming out letter closer to Inauguration Day. I had an essay scheduled to run at Vice about resistance. I didn’t know how to write about resistance without discussing what Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s election meant to me as a queer and trans person. I couldn’t have that discussion if I didn’t make it clear that I was queer and trans.

So, I finally came out.

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(Author’s Note: Lyrics credit to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” for the headline of this piece. All photography by the author and taken inside of the video game No Man’s Sky by Hello Games.)

My roommate isn’t home.

Joe Manchin is in Morgantown, and my roommate is at the townhall. I wish I was there. I want to let West Virginia’s nominally Democratic Senator know how I feel about him selling my home state out to Big Coal. How angry I am that he’s the latest in a long line of West Virginia politicians exploiting the bigotry and hatred that still infest Appalachia to line carpetbaggers’ pockets. But I’m not like my roommate. I’m not downtown giving Joe hell.

I’m at home.

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A Free Train Ride

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Yesterday, I woke up to find that my Twitter feed had been inundated with anti-Semitic threats. People using anonymous handles referencing 20th century as well as contemporary neo-Nazi culture flooded my mentions. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I was a Jew. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I spoke out against white supremacist hate speech. Which is all to say, they let me know I was being targeted because I was willing to defend myself and and to mobilize others that were willing to do the same.

I’m going to include the most upsetting of the comments as an image below this sentence. I am warning you ahead of time about anti-semitic hate speech being included in this post.

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Why Antifas Are Our Only Hope

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[Author’s Note: Once again, I’m sharing something that I originally posted on social media. This is a very brief statement on why more Americans need to be concerned that our government has officially ended its fight against white supremacist/white nationalist terror groups. Only the Antifas can save us.]

A thing we aren’t talking enough about right now is the fact that yesterday our new President removed white supremacist hate groups from the purview of domestic counter-terror surveillance programs. The federal government is giving actual Nazis free reign to commit terror on American soil.

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[Author’s Note: For the second time this week, I’m publishing a post that is a formal response to a comment that someone left on my Facebook wall. I believe these sort of micro-scale interactions with others are a necessary step moving forward in the fight against fascism, and I’m going to include the comment that this person left so that you, the reader, can understand the brief argument I give for why violence — carefully considered and escalated rationally — is justified against actual Nazis. More of us should be punching Nazis.]

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It Has Happened Here

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There are two great myths of World War II. The first says that there was something intrinsic to the national characters of Germany and Italy, a flaw that made them uniquely susceptible to the destructive id of fascism. The second myth evangelizes the existence of a unified, democratic resistance to fascism even amongst the nations occupied by the Nazis.

Marcel Ophüls’ 1969 documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, demolishes both myths and, in the process, serves as a harrowing reminder of the ease with which liberty and human prosperity can fall when they aren’t safeguarded through constant vigilance. Few historical documents of the 20th century offer as intimate a peek into the constant struggle to identify, combat, organize against, and educate others about political oppression.

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“It Requires Revolt”

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A family member just accused me of caring too much about politics right now and argued that by caring as much as I do, I’m not helping the political situation in the slightest. I’m simply injuring my own mental health.

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“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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