Recently I had the "pleasure" of running into a skinhead. She was the perfect caricature of one. I would have thought it a joke if it wasn't for my prior experience with skinheads. It's hard to describe them. If you haven't had the displeasure - just how willingly vile a person could possibly be - it's really hard to imagine.
My handling of myself during the situation was commendable I think. Rather than getting really upset by it, I tried to make fun of the situation.
Back in 2000 I moved to Christchurch. I had been looking for a change of scene and had been talking to someone online in Christchurch so it seemed the place to go. One day, while going up to the post box, I got popped in the jaw. There was no chance of retaliation. The "person" had a bunch of other skinheads sitting there laughing over the fact that I'd just been popped in the jaw.
It's quick to say... popped in the jaw. Getting over it was something entirely different.
For starters, I was in Christchurch. The people around me had no idea what had me so upset. It's not that they were particularly racist. It's just that they didn't really seem to understand how hurtful racism really is. Being prosecuted for... well... nothing. It was a pop to the jaw. Get over it. There was also a more... latent racism there. It's not that they were consciously racist. It's just that they didn't seem to know how to act around people they perceived as different.
There were the physical bits - difficult to chew. I lost quite a lot of weight. But there was also the psychological. I was only a couple of hundred meters away from where I was living when it happened. I went nuts. For about a month, I just didn't leave the flat. It wasn't worth the risk. That sense of helplessness...
There's an interesting term that's thrown around - reverse racism. I think it's a bit of a fallacy. It's not reverse racism - it's just racism. But then there's the hate that comes not toward a race, but towards a.... I want to say classless because I can't attribute anything near class to people who go out of their way to cause hurt to other people. It's really hard to see what circumstances leads to people to thinking in this way.
But then it wasn't that long ago that I was failing to see the circumstances around state dependency (though I think I was a touch better than most). The question is, are there circumstances in which a skinhead could be seen as a person rather than a vile creature who see themselves as completely different creatures above others (who may be similar but different)? And if they're able to be people, can they be helped?
The prosecution of the Jews was only possible by seeing differences between them and ... well... at the time, everyone else. The Jews weren't people anymore.... It's easy to kill bugs or animals (cows, sheep etc.)
Sound at all familiar? Here I am talking about a particular group of people and taking away their humanity. If I saw on the news that a bunch of skinheads had been targeted and beaten to within an inch of their lives, I don't think I'd bat an eyelid. I might even have a celebratory drink.
I hate them. It's not that they purposely hurt people so much as they have lives and they choose to be that vile - that just feels like a great big giant waste. Is there anything quite so vile as being a waste of life?
I'm now questioning myself. Are there circumstances I'm not seeing? Is there some way of turning these beings into people?