“Both Sides” is Bullsh*t

Amber Fraley
4 min readFeb 1, 2022
Ovens at Auschwitz concentration camp where 1.1 million Jews, LGBT people and others were gassed to death and their bodies burned. Image by alanbatt from Pixabay

I ran across a chilling Medium piece calling for studying and teachin“both sides” of Nazism and US Slavery without interjecting any moral judgement about anybody’s actions. Because, this guy argues, nice, regular people living in Nazi Germany allowed horrifying things to happen to their neighbors but that doesn’t mean they were monsters.

Yeah, actually, it does. And when we aren’t clear about this, when we refuse to label bad things bad, and bad actions bad, and bad people bad, that’s how atrocities happen again. Nobody is asking for the descendants of those bad people to feel guilt and shame over the actions of your ancestors. Discussing history honestly isn’t an insult to anyone living today. If you choose to see it that way, that’s on you.

Based on his looks and his incredibly English surname, I’m gonna go out on a very short limb here and assume this guy doesn’t have a drop of Black or brown blood in his pasty white body, and I’d bet a million bucks he isn’t Jewish, either. It’s reallll easy to sit back in your pseudo-intellectual armchair and declare “both sides” of the holocaust or American chattel slavery when your archetype has never been the target of mass political oppression and murder.

Imagine if American women started an organization that targeted men for violence. Imagine if chapters of that organization popped up all over the country, and men were suddenly unsafe out in public. What if you couldn’t go to the bar or the grocery store or ride the subway without the real fear some random woman might suddenly run up and whack you in the back of the head with a hammer? Any talk of “understanding both sides” would go right out the window — as it should — because unprovoked violence is always wrong.

The reason I’m picking on this one piece in particular is because the argument for being “non judgemental” about history is gaining dangerous steam among white America, particularly white conservatives. Here’s some direct quotes from that piece, which echos most of the right-wing propaganda being slung around right now:

History should not be about “proving” one side was right and the other side was evil — or even making that judgment. History is the study of what happened in the past. It should be objectively taught, not with the purpose of pushing an agenda, but with the…

Amber Fraley

Writing about abortion rights, mental illness, trauma, narcissistic abuse & survival, politics. Journalist, novelist, wife, mom, Kansan, repro rights activist.