Leavitt: Letter to my friend’s neo-Nazi son

By Irv Leavitt for Chronicle Media

It would be nice, when you are in town, if you would drop by and visit. Stay, if you need a place to chill for a while.

I am not, of course, in favor of your opinions about my race. But I am in favor of you.

I know people who love you, and I trust them in their belief that you are a good person at heart.

They watched you play with your toy soldiers, and delight in books and learning, games and sports, playing with a diverse little group of friends that included Jews.

You changed your mind about friends, I suppose, through reading and observation.

When you come here — and I really hope you do — you won’t be smothered by my Jewishness. I pray only a few times each year, and we don’t keep Jewish paraphernalia like menorahs on display.

I’m realistic. I grew up in a place and time in which many people felt relatively free to use the kind of ethnic slurs you can’t even print in newspapers.

I don’t talk that way. But I am not personally very sensitive, because I accepted years ago that many people really don’t like what other people are.

When I was a boy, I found a swastika painted on our apartment building. I told my parents, and we painted it over. After a few days, we never spoke about it again.

We knew how some people felt, and it was no use dwelling on it, we decided.

I know what it’s like to have a woman tenderly put her arms around you and say, “I don’t like Jews, but you’re different.”

Many people, I think, consider such a statement evidence of racism. Maybe, but it’s also evidence of honesty.

As she got to know more people, she grew more accepting. It was the opposite way with you.

And I understand that, too. About one in three of the 400 richest people in America are Jewish, though only one in 60 Americans is Jewish. I can understand why you think we’re manipulating everything.

White supremacists write that their careers suffer because of favoritism toward Jews, and, more often, favoritism by Jews toward minorities.

This reminds me of an old Dave Chapelle skit. He put on white face to demonstrate that white people gave each other money and opportunities just for being white.

Chapelle’s point was that we sometimes blame our hard times on outside influences because it makes us feel better about our failings.

I’m no different.

Several years ago, after reading an autobiography of another Chicago columnist, Neil Steinberg, I realized that his early work life was marked by eerily similar incidents and mentoring to my own. His career, however, took off long before mine. At first, it looked like he had been the beneficiary of some kind of magical intervention.

But in real life, he is just far more ambitious than I am. And he’s probably better at what we both do.

Like many other questions, the first place to look for an answer to how you got to where you are now is in the most obvious place. You can find it in the morning when you shave.

You say that on the national and world scale, Jews are manipulating policy. And you’re right, to some extent. Jews actively lobby in two areas.

One, many Jews want to protect Israel, because that’s their home after more than a decade of European extermination.

Two, Jews often fight for civil rights of others. That’s because there isn’t an Israel for everybody.

If the Jews had such a lock on things as the alt-right say, I doubt that Bernie Sanders would be the closest we could get to the presidency.

Many of you fellows see women as less equipped for life than men, and you think that government should ensure that an acceptable woman is available to you.

You know that will never happen.

From experience, I can tell you that the most important gift a spouse can give to an intelligent person like yourself is someone to share your thoughts with. Once you accept that, it will be easier to find that acceptable spouse. Because then, you can give a woman that gift, too.

You may find love. I hope you do.

And then, children. And you will love those children more than your own life, if you are like most people.

You will hurt your children, and they will forgive you, if you’re lucky.

Your children will hurt you, too, and you will forgive them. For some families, that happens over and over.

You have a family like that.

Your path has become a weight around the heart that never goes away.

It is with them when they rise up, and when they lie down and try to sleep. It is with them when they eat and when they drink.

When they read, it is between the lines of type.

At times, it’s hard to face any of their friends, Jew or gentile.

They feel responsible for the words that you bring to the marketplace of ideas. You should, too, because they’re not true, and they hurt the feelings of people who don’t have skin as thick as mine.

And they’re doing you no good.

Even if you had reached the level of a Richard Spencer or Mike Cernovich, that would be disappointing, because most people have never heard of either of them. Most people who do know of Spencer just know him as that guy who got punched in the face.

If you rise in this movement, you will be like them. Hailed by a handful, disrespected by some, and unknown to most.

You could change, of course. You could decide, as I have, that down deep, people are pretty much the same wherever you go.

But your predilections are, of course, out there on the Internet, and they will probably follow you forever.

So you may eventually decide to leave the white supremacist movement, and pledge to help others leave, too.

You could decide to be a hero.

If you do, I will write about it, and tell your story, if you like. I will try to help you become a new person.

You do not have to make that decision before you come here. I don’t expect it.

I appreciate the right of people to believe what they choose.

That’s true, even if they believe it would be better if people like me disappeared.

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