Here’s The Context You Were Missing In The Wolfenstein Nazi Shooting Incident That Went Viral On Social Media
It’s easy to get caught up in the outrage machine these days. Something incredible and unbelievable shows up in your news feed, and before you know it you’re seeing red, smashing the share button and howling for blood.
That’s exactly what happened to me this week when I saw the video footage of the now famous Wolfenstein Nazi Shooting Incident. Like the rest of you, I watched in outrage as a helpless B.J. Blazkowicz crouched behind a burned out car, Nazi bullets sparking and ricocheting off his rapidly disintegrating cover.
I’m not normally the sort of person to go in for a lynch mob mentality, but when I saw that video, I don’t mind telling you – I was ready to grab the pitchforks and torches and start executing Nazis right then and there.
I wasn’t the only one either. A lot of so-called “progressives” were baying for Nazi blood as well, emboldened by an extremely engaging – and it turns out, somewhat misleading – bit of social media tribalism.
As tends to happen, once the whole thing was over and cooler heads began to prevail, we started to learn more about this apparently black-and-white incident. And, predictably, the truth was a lot more complex than “the people wearing swastika armbands are bad”.
A member of the neutral activist group Aryan Power tweeted out a longer video of the incident, which I watched, because as a journalist I believe in fearlessly investigating the truth with an open mind. This video shows, quite clearly, that so-called “progressive hero” B.J. Blazkowicz wasn’t sitting there being passively shot at by Nazis as it first appeared – he actually fired the first shot after he saw the Nazis kicking and stomping on an interracial couple!
Indeed, before the whole confrontation even begins, these apparently “evil” Nazis allow a white couple to pass by in the street unmolested, without so much as a violent assault. In fact, they appear to be cheering them on, and shouting “blood and purity”. Are these the actions of violent monsters, or are we looking at complex individuals?
It’s these kind of details, obscured in the rush to find a “good guy” and a “bad guy”, that are lost when we stop thinking for ourselves and start building an “us and them” mentality.
When you watch the longer video, as I have (because I am a really good journalist), it’s much harder to hold onto the blind rage that comes with finding an enemy you can thoughtlessly attack. Social media always amplifies the lowest common denominator, erasing the important details that allow us to truly understand a situation. Sure, at first glance it appears that the Nazis are using the butts of their rifles to break a black man’s skull open, but haven’t we all done stupid stuff when we were young?
BJ Blazkowicz would later claim that he felt “unsafe” around the Nazis because they were “a monstrous regime of genocidal racists bent on exterminating all non-whites in a quest for global domination”. But from the video I saw, he is the one who fired the first shot. In an age when everyone is so divided, these little pieces of context have to count for something.
I hope that the next time you see something on social media that makes you outraged, you take a moment, take a deep breath, and think for yourself. I can understand how “the Holocaust is real and millions of innocent people were put to death” might sound dangerous, but the real danger here is a lack of nuance.