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Letter to Newcomers
June 13, 2024
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Advice for Freshmen
June 12, 2024
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Advice to Freshmen
June 12, 2024

Interview with an ex-bigot

Tim Pierce

My friend is a college student in the PDX area. Active in left-wing politics and the punk scene, always voicing his anti-establishment anti-racist anti-homophobic opinions. But he wasn’t always like this. He has a bigoted past and is an escapee of the ideology that will always be on the rise in one way or another, the white supremacy movement. 

Q: What’s the backstory, How did you get into it?

“I’m not gonna sit here and go on about how awful my childhood was for pity points, but my mom wasn’t around. It was just me and my dad in the woods since I was three. My dad’s from Nashville and was raised by two Woodstock ’69 anti-war hippies. Dont know what got lost in translation, maybe some drinking issues and a whole lotta hate with no purpose, but he lived in constant fear. Man, I can tell you that much. He had shooting targets of Malcolm X and some other political leaders, maybe even Nelson Mandela. And this crazy f**king mindset that people were gonna come to our door and hurt us because of the way we lived and because we were the superior race. He never said we were the superior race, but it was implied by how barbaric he made every other race out to be. I guess ever since I was an infant I was just in that us against them mindset. We lived pretty out there in the woods, so how was I supposed to know anything about society? He got me into it when I was older. Around 12, he would start getting me riled up about politics. It was downhill from there.”

Q: What did you believe in specifically?

“Yikes, well, I wasn’t a part of any specific group, I was super right-wing, and all I would do is try to piss people off. But I hated Arabs the most. To me, Islam was the equivalent of the droogs from Clockwork Orange. I was big on “Close the borders, don’t let the Mexicans in ’cause they are lazy” or some absurd crap like child rapists. And that Black people were just whiney and ungrateful. To me, Black people had all the rights they needed and just wanted to make a “Black America” literally, as my dad would call it. And those were the two main ones. Of course, I had biases against every race, but those three were set in stone. It was all just fear with little reasoning. Politics and ideologies like that are super isolating.

And it’s not just about what I believed, it’s also what I tolerated. Way back when I made friends with some f**ked up people, some real-deal Adolf warriors who would yell sh*t at people to get a reaction. During Hanukkah, they would parade around at night and yell in the streets to see if anyone would give them a piece. They only went out at night cause they of the anonymity and low risk of getting their asses handed to them. We felt hard at the time. Always playing sh*t like Skrewdriver in the car ride to go to uncle’s house to get sh*tfaced. I never believed that Jewish people were bad at all, if it’s not what my dad told me I wasn’t too into it, But If I had never left, I would have been down at that level with them, ideology is a slippery slope. In summary, I was for sure a white supremacist, not a Holocaust denier or slavery supporter. But, I believed races shouldn’t have mixed and that some races were just… bad I guess. And I tolerated some bad people whose ideologies were way out of line compared to mine.”

Q: What changed your views? Was it an event, an epiphany, or a slow process?

“It was a few epiphanies and a slow process. As crazy as it sounds, the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland made me reconsider for the better. I saw how angry they were and I thought, for sure, there was something truly wrong if all those people were burning and looting like that. But that wasn’t even the start. The start of my reconsidering was when I kind of lost all my friends cause they started doing hard crap that I didn’t dig into, so I was all alone. And in junior year I had, I guess, an epiphany. I made some Black friends, and it opened my eyes that people weren’t the way I initially thought. I just thought, what the f**k am I doing hating my own brothers? And so on.”

Q: What gave you the motivation to better yourself?

“Seeing how my old friends went, I suppose. That was subconsciously in the back of my mind the whole time, my friends were drug addicts and my dad was an alcoholic, and y’know I got myself a lady, she half Saudi, and when we were still in the works, I had to unlearn these prejudices. Around that same time, I started making friends in the punk scene that I will forever have. At that point, I didn’t believe in what I used to believe in, but it was still in my head, just that fear.”

Q: Was it hard to make that transition?

“Oh, hell yeah, it was. People knew me as a complete asshole who just wanted to piss people off by seig hailing and chanting close to the borders. And overnight, I was some leftist out of nowhere. It was hard socially and mentally, having learned everything I knew was a fear-mongering pipeline was kind of hard.”

Q: Are you ashamed of it?

“Super ashamed. I tell everyone I meet eventually, but I wait before opening up. There will always be people who don’t forgive me and that is just what it is. I’m really ashamed to the point I don’t like it when my friends even joke about it.”

Q: Did you know your viewpoint was harmful?

“Yeah, that’s why I did it. I had too much anger and nowhere to put it other than some hateful sh*t. It gave me a real kick. I knew it was harmful, and that’s what drove it.”

Q: What’s your biggest regret?

“In my upper-level biology class in freshman year, we had this big project with stupid f**king plants. I didn’t have any friends, so I was partnered with someone random. That someone random was this well-spoken, really smart Mexican immigrant. Immediately, as I heard the teacher tell him to partner with me, I planned to make that project a hellhole. I refused to talk to him or cooperate, and he did it all. It was partially because he was smarter than me and I knew it. Dude graduated with cords. That’s my biggest regret cause I was just so into it I couldn’t put something aside for 60% of my grade. That kid was never mean to me or anything. He knew right away I did not f**k with him, but at the end, he told me to put my name on it so I would get the grade despite not doing any of it, real nice kid. I eventually had to retake biology in my senior year.”

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About the Contributor
Molly Graham, Writer
Molly Graham is a sophomore whose interests include; ugly cars, welding, fireworks, punk shows, nature and boxing. I can play banjo and am in a band called civil disobedience.

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