Bleeding Kansas of the 21st Century?

As if shit couldn’t get any weirder:

The war began when a fascist party and its armband-clad leader led a putsch. Antifascists mobilized in response. Threats of violence ensued.

Then the Rocky Mountain Fur Con canceled all future events.

The Fur Con is an annual summit in Denver, Colorado, for “furries,” people who present themselves as animals, from donning full-body fur suits to adopting “fursonas” for their character. And just as in the rest of America, a lot of furries resemble Nazis lately.

I’ve been binge watching “Life Below Zero” on Netflix. This kind of shit is making life near the Arctic Circle looks more attractive by the day.

Hat Tip to Clayton Cramer.

20 thoughts on “Bleeding Kansas of the 21st Century?”

  1. I saw that story too and made comments similar to Sebastian’s.

    Don’t ask me to cite any right now, but I recall over the years encountering more than one book, short story, or movie with the theme that there are scenarios where you don’t have the luxury of not actively choosing sides. When even people who get off on dressing up like team mascots are reflecting the polarization in our society, we have probably arrived at one of those times.

    The worst thing about history is that sometimes you’re forced to live it, whether you want to or not.

  2. Been reading this blog for a few years, with the occasional comment under a different name. Thanks for all the great content!

    And, uh, I’m also a furry.

    Believe me when I say this interest makes sense to exactly none of us either, but if you’re wired in just the right (wrong?) way you run across some furry art one day, the hook goes in, and that’s that… so you may as well enjoy it. You have fun and meet a bunch of really cool people, and honestly, what’s wrong with that? The community does certainly skew very liberal, but the number of conservative/libertarian gun owners is also a lot higher than you might think.

    The story as told is totally wrong; of course the antifa crowd was the one who started shit, and the “Raider” group is not actually a bunch of Nazis. But I’m sure you knew that. It WAS a gigantic charlie foxtrot all around.

    in re: Whetherman,
    Yeah. Political polarization in the furry fandom has really ramped up this last year or two; it used to not be such a big deal, but now it’s as much a part of folks’ identity as their membership in the fandom. It’s a damn shame. A whole bunch of friendships were destroyed over the 2016 elections, especially, but that’s not much different from anywhere else.

    1. I am not anti-furry. Whatever floats your boat. I don’t give a shit. I won’t say I ‘get it.’ My reaction is more that if even subcultures are at each other’s throats, we’re in some serious shit.

      1. I know… It’s all good!

        All I was trying to say is that furries often don’t “get it” either– it just sort of *is*, and you roll with it. Just a funny aside.

        But yes, definitely agreed on that last point. Polarization is ramping up terribly fast, and the bastions where people once used to set partisanship aside– fandoms, hobby groups, friends, family– are now political battlegrounds. The apolitical is vanishing. Which, like you said, is setting us up for some seriously bad shit.

    2. I want to apologize if I phrased things in a way that would be offensive to furries. Like Sebastian, I may not get it, but I do get “subcultures,” which often are difficult to explain, at least in terms of how they evolve or recruit.

      But from there, my point was exactly the same as Sebastian’s. I actually believe I see other subcultures besides furries being subverted by our political polarization, in ways that may defy analysis.

      But I would also submit that your comment that “the antifa crowd started the shit” illustrates the phenomenon. My first reaction would be that whoever first strapped on a black-on-white-on-red armband was the one who caused people to think of Nazis; and anyone in denial of that would unfortunately give the impression (albeit with too much extrapolation in some cases) that they were closet sympathizers or apologists for Nazis. But your perception is different.

      And that is exactly what is happening across our society. My closest previous life experience was as a veteran college student during the later Vietnam War, when your personal or subculture associations would be used to judge your alignment regarding the war.

      1. You’ve got nothing to apologize for, seriously. As somebody who came in at the tail end of the days when “Yiff in hell, furfags!” is all you would get from the non-furry internet, this kind of politeness feels surreal.

        Getting back to the topic at hand, though… well, the situation is more complicated than what I think you think it is. If you really want to know–

        To start, I absolutely agree the “furry raiders” are a bunch of tools. But they’ve also been a known quantity for years, and haven’t caused any real trouble to date. No, this was a total clusterf*ck that started out with one fur saying she couldn’t wait to “punch a Nazi” at this year’s con. Another furry, a gun owner, (stupidly) replied with, “hey that’s a great way for you to get shot and it would be a hoot to see it happen.” And that reply suddenly became a “threat” which was ginned up and repeatedly reported to the hosting hotel. The hotel insisted on additional armed security to be paid for by the convention, to the tune of $20,000+, which just wasn’t in the budget. There was also a bizarre cease-and-desist letter written in gibberish legalese by a sovereign citizen on the board of the convention (directed to Ms. Punch-a-Nazi), the not-so-minor revelation that the (former, I think, but still serving in some capacity) chairman is a registered sex offender, etc. So don’t get me wrong, nobody’s hands are clean in this one, it was ugly all around, and there is no pure and virtuous faction. But they antifa/leftist crowd’s agitating is what ultimately caused the insurmountable financial issue that brought RMFC down.

        That’s an interesting note you make about the Vietnam War. If I can ask you a couple questions, how did the polarization about the war that you saw on campuses play out in the rest of society? Were things as divisive and divided across society as they are now?

        1. First let me say Thank You for concisely outlining what really happened. I’ve had past experiences with chains of stupidity escalating from the stupidity of just one or two individuals.

          Next let me apologize again, because furries were just not part of my cultural literacy until I encountered that article. And that article of course made no one more “literate” about the furry subculture; only that it existed. (BTW, you are a good spokesman for it.)

          Regarding your question about Vietnam and college campuses: I probably missed a lot myself, because my personal attitude at the time was, “I did my hitch, and it’s not my business anymore.” But c. 1968 (when I was a 23-year-old freshman) any divisiveness was at the extremes. By that I mean, there was a small on-campus antiwar group who were mostly hippy stereotypes, and there was a “veterans fraternity” that I belonged to, but the two entities didn’t clash. They just didn’t have anything to do with each other. But that extended to, a friend’s sister who I knew well was a member of the antiwar group, and though we had been friendly, she felt she couldn’t be seen talking to me, because I was a veteran. But there were no examples I can remember of anyone calling a veteran a “baby killer” nor of any veteran denigrating someone as a “smelly hippy” or anything.

          I associated with a lot of the “hippies” because I was a rare animal, an engineering major with a minor in English, so I would see and work with them in the “Creative Writing” kinds of classes and other humanities electives. I was anti-military from experience, but not yet exactly antiwar, so I could get along with them well once we knew each other.

          Ironically the one physical confrontation I had was with two other veterans, who were new and didn’t know me; by that time my hair was long and I was wearing my Army field jacket, and they were a slightly later “generation” who were making a shtick out of their veteran status; they gave me a hard time in a stairwell about where I got my field jacket. I told them I’d earned it, and had to jack them up a little bit, which they weren’t expecting.

          By the end of my sophomore year things were getting a little more tense, and my sense is the Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970, flipped a lot of people’s switches. But, I got married then, at the same time I transferred to an Ivy League school. There was a lot more “activism” on campus (including burning down one of the labs) but being newly married and in a new school, I was more focused than ever on my own affairs, than on what was going on around me, and my social life was not connected to campus at all. I commuted, socialized in class, but went home at night.

          I think that was the way almost everybody went about life, but my student social circle were engineers, who are stereotypically pragmatic. There may have been polarization of opinions about the war, but off campuses, and away from the fringes, I don’t think many people allowed it to affect their friendships and social relationships. I shouldn’t even say “allowed” — it just didn’t seem to affect their relationships. Only the proverbial “crazy uncle” would get bent out of shape over what you thought about the war.

          That is why our present polarization seems so creepy to me. Maybe it’s that we can communicate in media like this so readily, that it makes issues seem more real, than once was an abstract war, that once our hitch was up, didn’t really feel like our problem anymore.

          1. Ahhh, I just noticed the sexual dig in your first comment there (which is 98%– but, alas, not 100%– inaccurate). Apology accepted, although again, it’s really not necessary!

            Thanks so much for taking the time to put that post together. Fascinating to hear about your experiences, and what you saw on the ground.

            Let me touch on what you said in your last paragraph, though. Speaking as a current college student, I am beginning to see how deep the polarization runs, or at least how deeply it’s being embedded… and it’s terrifying. A caveat– I don’t have much perspective, having spent 2012-2015 in the comfortable bubble of a very, very conservative college. So I don’t know what the mainstream academic life was like during those times. But starting this semester, I’ve gotten back in the saddle to finish out my education at a more local state school. And talk about a culture shock! Even here in Texas, the campus environment is stridently leftist. Another caveat– I’m like you were when you transferred to your Ivy League school, living off-campus and otherwise occupied with life (self-employment keeps me busy, but it’s also keeping me debt-free). So I don’t get to see much of campus social life, and maybe culture on the ground is more conservative. But the events I see posted about– drag night! pro-abortion art gallery! all manners of identity-politics talks and events! sex week!– don’t give that impression. And the in-class environment is overbearingly leftist, as are the textbooks. The student events posted on various bulletin boards are universally leftist, too. You can find flyers about the upcoming Democratic Socialist and left-wing student meetings, but the College Republicans or Young Americans for Liberty? Ha! Good one. The environment is saturated with politics, and even historical discussions are framed with contemporary political language.

            The situation you described in your second-to-last paragraph, a separation of the political and the personal, seems very uncommon among people my age, and it will probably soon become unthinkable. I’m not sure exactly what all this means, but I AM pretty sure it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.

            It all loops around to what you said in your first post. I wish I could paint a happier picture, I really do. But I can only confirm your thoughts. Soon enough, it’s gonna get ugly, and folks aren’t gonna have the luxury of not choosing a side.

            1. “…a separation of the political and the personal, seems very uncommon among people my age…”

              I think that for my age, it exists only because of years of practice with biting our tongues when confronted by opinions we don’t share. But what I sense is, the level of awareness of not-shared opinions is much higher now. Older groups seem to avoid talking current events, like the plague, because the next layer of the discussion has to become politics — who do you support?

              To continue with my recitation of history, if only for its historical value: The thing I experienced that was similar to your aversion to all of the leftist material on campus was, the inability of student (and other) groups to keep race issues separated from other issues — mainly the war-related issues at the time.

              While I was in the Army, black militancy was just developing, but was pretty bad, all the same. I’ll condense things by saying, it did not leave me with a lot of sympathy for black issues. But afterward, on campuses, I don’t think I ever saw a flyer announcing any sort of antiwar protest, that didn’t include among its listed “demands,” some totally unrelated race issue like “reparations.” It kept me from ever getting involved with antiwar activities, and it taught me a lot about how “single issue” movements fail, by digressing to other issues. I think about it every time I see one of those essays that begins “You can’t be pro-gun without also being pro-life, because. . .” Fun philosophy, perhaps, but guaranteed to lose at least some support you might otherwise have had.

              Just to close my intended “historical” circle: With long historical hindsight, I now realize many of the militant black GIs had a point, that I sympathize with, today. But they manifested it by threatening (and sometimes, attacking) white guys who were really in the same boat they were, who had done nothing to them. So immediately, tribal alignments kicked in. In the late ’60s, the KKK became very present and active in the U.S. Army in Germany.

  3. An entire generation (The Boomers) grew up in a world that was so extraordinarily ahistorical as to be very nearly incomprehensible (Post-War America). Reversion to mean is happening, just as the Boomers have hit their political peak, and people are going bonkers because of it.

    Politics was always intensely tribal.

    1. “Reversion to mean is happening…”

      That is an interesting thought. I always feel the need to point out that I am technically a few weeks too old to be a “Boomer” but for all intents and purposes that was my generation.

      We engage in a lot of nostalgia, but for the most part I have always figured that was just what was typical for older people. But I have to recall that the JFK Administration was characterized as “Camelot,” and I admit when I was a kid, a lot of life was really a happy illusion masking the way things really were.

      What scares me about “revision to mean” is, I think that, contrary to our mythology, “the mean” has been pretty horrible. As we enter the centennial period for U.S. involvement in WWI, I am reminded that it was (and preceded) one of the worst periods in American history for violation (and outright official denial) of civil liberties; which in fact were treated pretty much as jokes through much of our history. Meanwhile we have roughly half of the country promising to “take our country back” to that as soon as they possibly can.

      1. I’ll give the Greatest Generation this: unlike their fathers, they didn’t mess around with half-measures in their World War. They put a hard stop to German Expansionism, and the same for Japan.

        1. “They put a hard stop to German Expansionism…”

          As with the Death of Communism, it may be a little premature to announce The End of History.

          As the U.S. declines on the world stage, anything becomes possible, and a lot of German genes last displayed in the first half of the 20th century appear to have been recessive; we even imported a lot of them here, at the end of WWII. Imagine what Germany may be able to do the next time, perhaps with the U.S. as its ally.

          I would have felt really out on a limb saying something like that only a year or two ago; now I truly believe that anything is possible.

          1. After thinking about things for a few minutes, later, it also occurred to me to ask, who was it that put a stop to German expansionism, us or the Russians? Germany had more to worry about, avoiding becoming part of Russia’s expansionism. And we, arguably, had fed Russian expansionism near the end of WWII. (All expansionists look alike to me.)

            I know I’m being argumentative, but something that always annoys me is, people (including “generations”) claiming credit for doing things they couldn’t have helped doing, anyway. There was plenty we did good at the end of WWII, but German Expansionism was going to stop whether we agreed to it or not.

            1. The Soviet Army ran on a US logistics train. Arguably being the Arsenal of Democracy was as important as any GI boots-on-ground in WWII.

              My point was more that in WWI, the US allowed a negotiated peace (and then dropped the ball on the post-war era). Regardless of what happens in the future, any new German expansionism won’t be a continuation of the last unpleasantness

  4. “The Soviet Army ran on a US logistics train.”

    Yes. Civilians in my grandparents’ Old Country wondered why American tanks were firing on them. It turned out they were Russians in American Shermans, that the Soviets hadn’t even taken the time to paint over the U.S. insignia.

    That’s partially what I meant about the U.S. feeding Russian expansionism. Fortunately all my European relatives were already freezing and starving in Siberia, so didn’t have to witness it. At least they hadn’t been deported there in U.S.-made cattle cars.

    1. Churchill was booted unceremoniously from office for, among other things, asking that the West stand up to the Soviets. The Western Allies were tired of war. Which sucked hard for the countries behind the Iron Curtain.

      Side note: Winston Churchill is one interesting cat – arguably one man who shaped the entire 20th and large parts of the 21st. Not bad for someone who was at the Seige of Mafeking as a cub reporter.

      1. “Churchill was booted unceremoniously from office for, among other things, asking that the West stand up to the Soviets.”

        It depended on where the standing up was to be done; almost certainly someplace that served British interests.

        In other circles, Churchill is equally famous for saying something to the effect that all of the Baltic nations put together weren’t worth a single British life. Presumably British Petroleum, et al, had no interests there.

        I believe England also declared war on Finland for standing up to the Soviets, while the United States found it sufficient to merely break diplomatic relations with the Finns. The point being, England did not hold much regard for Finnish interests, either.

  5. Geee, can’t imagine WHY these folks don’t want their real names associated with their fantasy characters……..

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