This morning I found myself, perhaps weirdly, thinking of a particular scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s the Nazi book burning scene, so obviously imagery warnings here.
You get Elsa, the hot Nazi archaeologist, looking slightly teary-eyed and upset while all the book burning is going on. As she walks away, Indiana (undercover in a stolen Nazi uniform) grabs her and takes his father’s grail diary out of her pocket, growling that they didn’t want the book to be incinerated. Elsa acts so shocked–shocked!–that Indiana would think she’d do such a thing. She believes in the Grail, not the Swastika! Indiana gets this close to literally strangling her, and only lets go when she threatens to scream.
(Now, one can argue this scene gets a bit undercut later when the temple is falling apart and Indiana tries to save her, but let’s skip that for now.)
There’s a thread going around Twitter right now in which a correspondent from USA Today has realized he shared transit with the one fascist who got shot and killed (who is a conventionally attractive white lady, funnily enough, rather like Hot Nazi Archaeologist Elsa) and wants to take it as a moment to recognize that hey, those violent fascists are also people! This is a jaw-dropping extrapolation of “he can’t be abusive, he was always so nice to me” out into a group of white nationalists. But since I’m drawing parallels from reality to this film, I’ll just note: Indie fucked the Hot Nazi Archaeologist before he knew she was a Nazi. And his take away was ultimately shock, disgust, and “well, guess I’m not gonna cry about it when the temple eats her.” Not, remarkably, “Well, shoot, I guess all Nazis are also hot people I could fuck, really makes you think.”
The Indiana Jones movies are problematic as hell on a bunch of axes (and I love them anyway), but one thing they are relentless about is how much they fucking hate Nazis and have basically zero sympathy for those who claim they’re definitely not Nazis while happily riding the Nazi coattails to glory. In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Belloq gets exploded by the power of the ark. In this movie, Elsa gets swallowed by the temple as it destroys itself. They signed up with the Nazis. They don’t get to run away from that association. Elsa might not personally be advocating for the burning of books–in fact she might find it a bit upsetting–but she’s still standing there and doing nothing while it happens. She might claim she doesn’t believe in the Swastika, but she’s happy to wear it because it helps her get what she wants. Thus, she gets to share the fate of the other Nazis, and no one is sad.
So you can bet this sprang instantly to mind as I watched a bunch of Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, trying to backpedal from the white supremacist mob they unleashed on the capitol yesterday. They’re shocked–shocked!–that we could think they wanted that to happen, after all they’ve been doing is hanging around with these violent fascists and tacitly encouraging them either with mealy-mouthed words or strategic silence. I am not, of course, advocating for basing morality off a pop cultural artifact. But I’m saying in this case, Indiana Jones is very, very right.
You don’t get to run away from this. It doesn’t matter if you don’t, in your heart, believe what you’ve been cynically encouraging others to do. You signed up with the Nazis. When they go down, so should you.