The presence and absence of an anime construct in dialogue about white nationalism
Of all my nerd disciplines, I will admit that I came to anime pretty late. It was one of the last vestiges of nerd-dom where, having forgone any fear of ridicule or raised eyebrows from my non-nerd peers, I just said, "Aiight, screw it. What anime should I check out?"
Like I do with just about everything, I threw myself into all the recommendations at breakneck speed. I finished “Naruto” at an unhealthy pace (17 seasons of Shippuden alone, fam), but it was worth it for the endless references I can toss out at a moment's notice.
On my hero's quest to embrace anime, it was suggested to me multiple times that I should check out “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.” It has since become one of my favorites — one where I can revisit the series or arcs again and again.
Following the story of two brothers who are basically orphaned after their mother's death and father's departure, “Fullmetal” is set in a world where some people have the gift of alchemy, creating weapons or force or energy by transforming something in their environment.
The cool thing is that, in this world, you must have something to create from. One of the most-used terms throughout the run of the show is “equivalent exchange.” You can't create something from nothing. It has to come from somewhere. It has to be balanced on the other side of the ledger.
As I am so apt these days to take everyday situations and conversations and reframe them in my mind with nerd ideologies, I can't help but think about “Fullmetal” while this new administration has taken hold, welcoming — hell, inviting — so many cabinet members and policies cheered by white nationalists.
Perhaps as absurd as the many individuals being given bigger microphones is the pacifist cry of well-meaning people who think that what we really need to do is have more open dialogue. We need to listen to each other more. Understand where each other is coming from.
They think that the prospect of equivalent exchange is present here, but it's not. I, as a black man, cannot open up a dialogue with someone about policing of black people and neighborhoods when that person doesn't think black people should be alive in the first place. Once someone mentions ethnic cleansing, it's a very long road to begin talking about supposed entitlement programs.
I understand those who are appalled at watching something visceral like a protester punching white nationalist icon Richard Spencer in the face, because to them, they're just watching someone get slugged, and violence being applauded may make them uncomfortable. But Spencer also celebrates the creation of a Muslim registry, attempting to justify its existence by spinning the positives of the Japanese internment camps of World War II.
At least here, when someone reaches back and throws his body behind a punch to Spencer's Nazi jaw, the act abides by the law of equivalent exchange: violence in, violence out.
William Evans is the founder and editor of blacknerdproblems.com. Follow him on Twitter at @willevanswrites and on Instagram at @willtotha. In Another Castle runs the second Thursday of each month.