I confronted Richard Spencer at my gym. Racists don’t get to lift in peace.

On May 22, Richard Spencer, the young, clean face of white nationalism in America, took to YouTube to lament that his gym privileges were taken away because a woman — me — called him out at his local fitness club for being a vocal propagandist for racism. Spencer, in addition to mendacious distortions of key facts, naturally employed misogynist tropes to portray me variously as dumb, ignorant, fat, hideous, triangular and the ugliest woman he’d ever seen; he likewise recounted my “Austic Screeching,” apparently mocking persons with autism to humiliate me. I do not screech. But that is the vernacular with which Spencer describes female protest…

The stakes for our country could not be higher. I imagine Germans sitting around their tables in December 1932 lamenting the eroding civil society and expansion of hateful, nationalist rhetoric between bites of Wiener schnitzel and sips of beer. They see what’s coming but they are too uncomfortable to do anything. Maybe they even believed that in some way the coming months would augur change for the better or at least desired change. This is our December 1932. We have a choice. Good people can acquiesce to the purported demands of polite society and concede that Spencer’s right to lift weights in peace is more important that the rights of men like Collins to live full and productive lives, that being a white supremacist is not a 9-to-5 job, and that as long as he doesn’t bring his torch into an establishment, Spencer and his associates should be treated as any other civilized person. Or we can refuse to treat this hateful, dangerous ideology as just another way of being, and fight it in every space we occupy.

I’ve made my choice. You need to make yours.

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