Aces DO NOT Invade Denmark!
The history of the “Aces Invade Denmark” meme...and why it's long past time to put it to rest.
Courtney: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with Royce. Together, we are The Ace Couple. And I can’t believe we are here today talking about what we’re talking about. A lot of this, really, I feel shouldn’t need to be said, but here we are. So, uh… Nazis, huh? We can all agree that they’re… bad, maybe? Maybe we don’t want Nazi symbolism in our community.
Royce: According to ’70s era action films and general history, yes.
Courtney: Nazis are bad [laughs]. I agree. We should… [laughs] If I don’t laugh, I will cry, you guys. This is awful. So, those of you who follow us on Twitter are likely to have heard at least bits and pieces of this today. So we’re sitting down, we’re going to tell you the whole story of why Aces are not, in fact, invading Denmark. So let’s get down to it, shall we?
Courtney: And because I know a lot of you out there have only gotten little bits and pieces and haven’t seen the whole picture, I want to take you all way, way back to the beginning. The beginning, of course, being, I don’t know, shall we say, June of 2021? It was thereabouts [laughs]. We’re not going too far back in time. But this was the start of the “Asexuals invade Denmark” meme, which, from my understanding, started from a silly little post on Reddit that, in and of itself, may have not been too harmful. Recent events have shown us that it has gotten way, way out of control. But this post has since been deleted, but enough people have screenshotted that you’re able to find it – it is around – entitled, “It’s time for the Asexuals to invade Denmark. Let’s cut to the facts. It is estimated that 1% to 1.2% of the population is Asexual, which makes our ranks number about 75 million strong. The Danish forces only number about 92,000, which means we can easily overwhelm them. If we all mass in there, we can easily overthrow the Danish government and create the first Asexual state, free of hypersexualization and Acephobia. The time is now. We must rise up. Come to r/AsexualInvadeTheDanes, where the revolution will begin.” And it linked to a new subreddit by that name. That subreddit does still exist. You can still go to AsexualInvadeTheDanes.
Royce: Joke’s on them, though. There’s so much infighting within the Ace community that we don’t really need society at large.
Courtney: [laughs] There’s no way in heck we can actually rally our entire numbers against a single unifying factor. But yeah, so listen, at the time this came out, we were actually volunteering for the International Asexuality Conference that was being held in conjunction with World Pride in August of 2021, and World Pride that year was actually being held in Denmark. So there was a collaboration with the Asexual Association of Denmark to to put that event on. So, when I first saw that, the conference had not been, like, publicly announced yet, but there was work happening behind the scenes. So when I first saw this meme, there was a little part of me in the back of my head that was like, “Noooo! Why? Like, we’re literally about to host a virtual –” It was a virtual conference, but it was for all intents and purposes stationed in Denmark, and we were working with the Danish Asexual organization.
Royce: The first time you saw that meme and brought it to my attention, I vaguely remember hearing you say something like, “But why Denmark? They’re actually doing pretty good right now, you guys.” [laughs]
Courtney: [laughs] Yeah! And I was like, “Oh no, I hope this isn’t going to, you know, cause any kind of contention with the conference that we’re actively trying to create.” But then as I thought about it more, I thought, “Well, I don’t know who posted that. I don’t know if they themself are Danish. I don’t know if they’re on any of these organizations or if they’re volunteering with this conference. Like, maybe this is just trying to be a really clever way to advertise the upcoming conference – like, haha, tee-hee, we’re going to invade Denmark, and the ‘invasion’ was actually going to be the conference?” And then I sort of flipped my tune a little bit. And I was like, “Well, that might actually be cute.” Because if you start it as a meme, part of me thought it was going to be like, like, “Storm Area 51” kind of a meme.
Royce: Could you imagine if the, like, PR team for a country that is trying to encourage immigration did something like this? Like if Iceland all of a sudden was, like, ghosted into some community and was like, “Time to invade Iceland.”
Courtney: [laughs] That would be sooo fascinating. [laughs]
Royce: And then –
Courtney: I mean, now I am trying to picture that.
Royce: – Then, after the invasion, it’s like, “Aha! We got you.” [laughs]
Courtney: “We got you!” [laughs]
Royce: “You have homes now and exorbitant living costs.”
Courtney: Well, see, so you know the reason why you pulled Iceland out of a hat there is because Iceland has been, like, really aggressively targeting certain areas with tourism. And for a while, in Kansas City as well, they created our first, like, international flight directly from point A to point B out of our local airport specifically to go to Iceland with all these incentives to have a stopover without having to pay more for your ticket. And for that period of time, like, the Kansas City area was just inundated with, like, Icelandic tourism, like, “Come to Iceland!” [laughs] And that was fascinating. So, I don’t know. Maybe… We’ll see if that ends up being prophetic. We’ll see [laughs] how tourism advertising works in the future.
Courtney: But yeah. So then I was just kind of like, “Alright, well, we’ll wait and see. Because if this is just like a quick little ‘Storm Area 51,’ people are going to actually put out a date;people are going to come together and have fun about this. Maybe it is related to the virtual conference and this will help advertise, and maybe this will just be a cute little thing we can rally around for a little bit and then it’ll be done and over with.” But no. As far as I can tell, nothing about that post or the subreddit had anything to do with the actual conference. It has just turned into a full-blown meme, where, like, “Aces are plotting to invade Denmark” is like the inside joke of the community.
Courtney: And some people recently have been questioning how widespread this is. Because I know not everyone is super active in online communities, or maybe they found their own little niche that they sort of stay in, but it’s across all platforms. I’ve seen discussions of it on AVEN, on more than one subreddit account, I’ve seen it on Facebook, I’ve seen it in Discords, and then you actually do see these little memes. I mean, if you just Google, like, “Asexuals invade Denmark,” you’ll see little pieces of art where it’s like, “Who are we? The LGBT+ community! And what do we want?” And all the flags are saying “Equal rights,” except the Ace flag person is saying, “World domination!” And then everyone stops and looks at them and they’re like, “Never mind, just Denmark!” [laughs] So there are all these little memes and cartoons and illustrations out there of a meme representation of the Ace community plotting to overthrow Denmark. And – still to this day. It’s been over a year now, a year and a half.
Courtney: And the thing is, around the time the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, I did start to see some more people begin to say, like, “Maybe we should cool it with the invasion jokes. It seems kind of insensitive at the moment.” And a few people were on board, like, “Yeah, maybe we should stop,” and some people did stop a little bit, but it didn’t stop the overall meme. It’s a full-fledged meme at this point. It’s all over the place. Go to most Asexual subreddits and type in “Denmark,” and you’ll see things within the last few days no doubt. And Royce, when was it that we talked about it? We talked briefly about that meme being, like, our least favorite Ace inside joke symbol thing.
Royce: It’s come up twice, I think. I think the time you’re thinking of was during the summer, like maybe in June. It was when we were answering general questions from the community.
Courtney: Oh yeah, I think someone asked, like, what’s our favorite sort of community symbol, and I was like, “Well, favorite’s hard for me, to think in terms of favorites. But I can tell you what my least favorite is.” [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. I think we kind of listed a few common refrains and just talked a little bit about our impressions of all of them.
Courtney: Yeah. Because the more I kind of sat and thought about it, the more it seemed to me like it’s not actually all that funny.
Royce: I think it was one of those things that was funny in the moment, due to the absurdity of it, but it –
Courtney: It had the shock factor.
Royce: By virtue of dragging on, you lose that.
Courtney: It is making sort of a joke out of colonization, essentially. [laughs]
Courtney: And, yeah, there’s something to be said for the comedy of the shock. But –
Royce: Not only colonization, but the idea of making a place that is entirely one group of people is basically an ethnostate.
Courtney: An Asexostate, [laughs] in this case – which is… it’s just, it’s really, it started rubbing me wrong even before the recent events transpired. So let’s get into those, shall we?
Courtney: It shouldn’t be any surprise when we say that there is legitimately an issue with racism in our community. There is an issue with racism in any communities that are predominantly driven by white voices. And of course, we know, there are many BIPOC Aces, there are Jewish Aces. We are such a diverse community. There are Aces of all kinds. But the Aces that have intersectional marginalized identities have been saying for years that there is an issue with racism. And the problem is that a lot of white Aces just don’t see it. But this is something that you shouldn’t have to see to believe. In some ways, you need to train yourself to learn how to see it, if it doesn’t come naturally to you, if you haven’t experienced racism on your own. But at the very, very least, if you haven’t begun a journey to unlearning some of the societal racism that you grew up with, if you haven’t begun a journey of committing to anti-racism, then the very least you can do is is listen to others when they say there’s a problem. And this seems to be a very, very glaring reminder of the fact that our community, time and time again, has refused to do that. We have failed to do that.
Courtney: Because the way this all started was during Ace week, actually, there was a Twitter bot, a flag mashup bot. So this didn’t necessarily originate in the Asexual community, but I am appalled at how quickly and easily it transitioned into the Ace community and began to balloon and take off. This flag mashup bot takes two flags together, mashes ’em up, pretty self-explanatory. But on October 27th, 2022, the post says, “Special edition: Asexual pride + German Empire 1903 = Asexual Empire,” and it is the colors of the Ace flag – the black, white, gray, purple – but right in the middle is an Iron Cross.
Courtney: Now, had this just been left right there and no one paid any attention to it, no one praised it, no one cross-posted it in Ace spaces, we wouldn’t be having this conversation here. Because to me, I do think it is a little questionable that the bot even has flags with an Iron Cross to mash up together, because that symbol does have… connections to the Nazis [laughs] and we should maybe not be spreading Nazi symbolism. I can’t believe we’re here saying that! [sighs] But anyway, if any of you are out there right now saying, “Oh, that symbol isn’t inherently linked to Nazis, it’s actually from the 1903 German flag,” well, hang on with us, we’ll get there.
Courtney: But you see, this was really, really popular. This post on this flag mashup bot with the “Asexual Empire” flag – which, first of all, just, “Asexual Empire” kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies. I don’t like that. I really don’t like that. This is by far and away the most popular post that I see over the last month on this flag mashup bot. You go to some of their more recent posts, and it’s like, 10 likes, 2 comments, no retweets. Randomly scroll down a little more, 25 likes, 1 retweet. So these aren’t doing huge numbers. 12 likes, 1 comment. This one: 6,513 likes, 756 retweets, and 144 quote tweets. That should be enough to tell you that there is something, something about this flag, that gets people’s attention.
Courtney: But I’m sorry to say that the comments, the quote retweets, were not condemning this. They were not saying, “This is bad. Maybe let’s not.” Most of these overwhelmingly praising it. And a lot of these are Asexual accounts and they are Asexual people. You’ll note that the original post says nothing about Denmark. I assume, just statistically, the person who created this flag mashup bot is probably not Asexual themselves, I don’t know, but it says nothing about Denmark. And yet the comments are riddled with, like, “Uh, guess we are invading Denmark!” So Aces found this, saw a flag with an Iron Cross, and immediately took it to “Invasion.” You cannot tell me that this cross does not have a certain connotation…
Royce: With invasion?
Courtney: With invasion! So, yeah, let’s just scroll through. Let’s see what some of these comments are, because this did end up leaving Twitter and expanding in different places. But right off the bat, you start scrolling down and people say, “Dude, this goes hard. I love it.” You see people referencing German marching songs, military marching songs. Someone literally commented, “Asexual Reich,” to which someone responded – and again, this is using in-community language and intra-community symbols – “We hunt down those who make bad garlic bread and tell us we’ll find the right one eventually.” You can’t tell me the person making that comment doesn’t know a thing or two about Ace culture. There’s a comment, “Oh fuck. They figured it out.” A bunch of people just over and over being really happy about, “Asexual Empire! Yes!” Some people calling the flag “Based.” People responding, “Hey, happy Pride week! Denmark shall be changed for better.” “Actually, a really good-designed flag for the armies of Asexuals.” “Time to conquer the world.” “Well, fuck, guess we are invading Denmark.” So these comments…
Courtney: And this is why I bring this up. Because even when we raised the alarm bells on Twitter and we started sharing that this was happening and that we needed to be aware and that we needed to wildly start course-correcting, because we are too far gone at this point – when you’re seeing “Asexual Reich,” that’s time to hard, hard pump the brakes. That’s our indication that we maybe should have pumped the brakes a lot earlier. Because that’s 10 steps over the line. But you can’t tell me that with these mentions of garlic bread, these mentions of Denmark, that people saying, you know, “happy Pride week” when it was during Ace Week – you can’t tell me that at least some of these people commenting are not Asexual. Because again, hundreds of comments. We also see “Childlessness Reich.” And even more. “Sorry, Denmark, you don’t stand a chance.” It’s just over and over and over again.
Courtney: And the reason why I point it out and why I’m going through all of these is because we did not retweet this tweet. We explained that this tweet happened and what the response was, but I don’t want to spread the imagery that is associated with Nazis. I want to say, “This is a problem and we should stop,” but you know, our tweet had several thousand eyeballs on it too. I didn’t want to spread the actual flag further. Especially when some of these people are saying, like, “This is the new pride flag I use.” Uh, may want to rethink that, my friend.
Courtney: So then we also see people in the quote retweets widely praising this. We already heard “Asexual Reich,” “Childlessness Reich.” Uh, now, “The fourth Reich.” Gotta stop. Gotta stop. I saw people reshare the flag on other posts. People who downloaded this flag when they saw it and shared it elsewhere. Like, I saw a “Last picture in your camera roll, drop it here,” and someone was like, “I am part of the Asexual Reich,” and shared that flag, removed from the tweet. So like, it spread. And a lot of these accounts, you go to it and they have Ace pride fags in their bio, they say Ace, they say AroAce, they have, you know, the purple, white, and black hearts that a lot of us use – since we don’t have a gray heart in the emojis. So, like, a lot of these are Ace people. We cannot ignore that.
Royce: But also, to go back real quick to the comments of “This symbol predated the German Nazi Empire,” the references are not subtle.
Courtney: They’re not subtle! They are not subtle. So… and the thing is too, I was looking – when I first found this post and started scrolling through, I was looking for anyone condemning this, saying, “Hey, this is not cool.” At the time I looked, I did not see a single one. And there still really aren’t. It’s not as if there’s been a wave of people coming in. But the only condemnations I saw were that some people in the comments started saying, “Oh, the Asexual Empire isn’t going to last very long,” and, you know, jokes and commentary on, “Oh the population’s going to fizzle out.” And people were coming in being like, “Ugh, you know Asexuals can have sex, right?” And it’s like, “That’s-that’s-that’s the issue that you have? Okay. I feel like we need to address the Nazi in the room first!” I’m sorry, y’all. I’m riled up.
Courtney: And the thing is, I’ve been trying to determine exactly why so many comments, so many retweets, so many quote retweets, so many likes on this flag in particular. Because as I said, the other flags on this bot are not getting the same level attention. I think it’s both. I think it’s the fact that it’s Asexual and our community is so starved for just like Asexual memes and representation and community inside jokes that sometimes we don’t engage critically with the jokes that do pop up in our community. So someone will see something Asexual and just immediately glom onto it as, “This is good because we need more Asexual things.” Not everything is good just because it’s Asexual. But also, this is absolutely symbolism that is inextricably linked with Nazi Germany at this point. And for as much as everyone can say, “Plausible deniability. It’s not inherently a racist symbol. It was around before Nazi Germany. Look, this is coming from the ‘German Empire 1903’ flag; that predated Nazi Germany,” that’s all just excuse. Because nobody is looking at this Iron Cross and being like, “Yeah that’s the German Empire 1903.” Everyone’s like, “Fourth Reich. Asexual Reich.”
Royce: Yeah. Yeah. The thing is, Hitler was alive in 1903, first of all.
Courtney: Well –
Royce: Also, Germany – or at least West Germany, at that point in time, I believe post-Berlin Wall East Germany as well – but I want to say that they either distinctly outlawed or completely stopped using this symbol in the ’50s.
Courtney: So, that’s a good point, because I have seen people make this argument too, that “Oh, they still use the Iron Cross as a military award.” After World War II, the Iron Cross as a medal, as a military symbol, was retired. Not too long ago, because I remember this news story. I don’t know if it was like 2008 or 2009 – so like, recent history, within our lifetimes – the German military created a new version of the Iron Cross. So it’s a little bit different. The design has changed, and they started using a new design for the Iron Cross. So it’s not this one. They don’t use this one. They created a new one. And yet I saw a lot of people saying, “This is just German military history, not Nazi history. And by the way, the German military still uses the Iron Cross.” No, they use a new redesigned Iron Cross, because they know that this one is inextricably linked to the Nazis!
Royce: And I think that that’s something that… well, I can’t really speak for other countries, but that Americans may not be very aware of. Because we don’t have, like, federal countrywide laws banning symbols. Like, we have fights that occur every now and then to try to remove some artifact of the Confederacy, which are –
Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.
Royce: – sometimes unsuccessful, but they’re not nearly as thorough and well-enforced as the anti-Nazi symbolism laws that Germany has.
Courtney: Well, and the thing is, this is still very much like – people are clearly, no matter how much they want to deny it, they’re seeing this and they’re thinking “Nazis.” You can say the same thing about the swastika, but the thing is, most people agree that most people saying, “Well, the swastika isn’t racist because it was around before Nazi Germany” – it’s true. It was around before Nazi Germany. There are a lot of other historical and cultural contexts to that symbol, but the Nazis kind of ruined it. [laughs]
Royce: There’s also – to go back to Germany’s modern redesign of the Iron Cross – the ways that swastika been used or depicted throughout Asian history are distinctly different from the ones used in Germany.
Royce: Like, Hitler was an artist and very specifically designed the version of the swastika that went on the Nazi flag, like, down to the width of the lines and the thickness of it and the orientation. Like, that was a very specific creation for that flag design.
Courtney: Yes. And it’s… this just all wigs me out so much. I need more people to be able to recognize hate symbols and call them for what they are. Because I would have much rather hoped that someone saw an Iron Cross on an Asexual pride flag and said, “That’s kind of messed up. Let’s not.” But instead, everyone took it as a rallying call to double down on the “Denmark invasion” meme – which also, by the way, Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany. That did happen.
Royce: I actually just looked up a little bit of World War I history, because my, like, primary education focused much more on World War II. But there is actually a section of historical Denmark that was occupied by Germany leading up into World War I, and that’s also seen as a bit of national trauma.
Courtney: Yes. Absolutely. And I mean, to talk about, like, national trauma, the only other, like, flag mashup flag that I’ve seen within the last month after just scrolling through that’s gotten anywhere near what this has – it’s still way, way low on numbers – but after the “Asexual Empire” flag, the other thing that got the most attention with the most retweets, most likes, at just of over 800 likes, 122 retweets, 63 quote retweets, so still quite a bit under, but it’s the UK mashed up with Northern Ireland. So it’s like a Union Jack in the light green, orange, white of Northern Ireland. And it’s like, there seems to be a theme of the flags that do well and actually get retweeted and commented on. Like, there’s national trauma involved. [laughs] And I’m starting to wonder what the point of this actual flag mashup bot is at that point.
Courtney: But… so anyway, this got taken off of Twitter and cross-posted to a subreddit r/aaaaaaacccccccce. Gee, I hope I pronounced that correctly. There are so many As and Cs in this subreddit. [laughs] And the subreddit, by the way: riddled with “Invading Denmark.” Daily. Daily, we’re talking about invading Denmark. And this poster said, you know, “Well, guess we are invading Denmark.” Again, you see the Iron Cross, you think “invasions,” there’s something already very wrong with this picture, and we need to examine that critically. But even though, in this context, there were a couple of people who are saying, you know, “Honestly, I actually am uncomfortable about this,” there was a comment saying, “I will never march under an Iron Cross,” so like, good for those commenters – the moderators of the subreddit allowed it. They knew it was a little bit wrong, at least, because they put the flag behind a spoiler screen, so you had to do the extra click a button to show the image, and a moderator commented and said, “Marked spoiler because the cross might make some people uncomfortable.” So you know the cross makes people uncomfortable, but you’re not going to condemn it or take the post down. What game are we playing here?
Courtney: So, aside from the few people in this subreddit who did say that they were uncomfortable about this, we started getting people arguing, you know, “The Iron Cross has just been appropriated by Neo-Nazis. It’s not inherently racist. It’s a really old symbol. It’s still used by the German military.” And this, by the way, over 700 upvotes on Reddit, 94% upvoted. And this is a very community-specific place. This is r/aaaaaaacccccccce, with – every bit of the branding of the subreddit is the Asexual pride flag colors.
Royce: No one is typing in that Reddit handle unintentionally.
Courtney: [laughs] No. You’re likely to find other Asexual subreddits before you find this one. But we did see some people who are German chiming in on this. Some were like, “I’m German, and, like, yeah, this is giving me the bad kind of flashback. Like, I’m not too sure about this.” But there were a couple of German commenters saying, like, you know, “If we Germans stopped using any symbol used by the Nazis, then we couldn’t even use our own current flag, and we shouldn’t allow them to take our history away from us.” Which… I have feelings about arguments like that, and just arguments about, like, “Oh, it’s our history in general, we can’t bury our history.” Because you mentioned earlier, in the U.S., we have, like, statues of Confederate soldiers from the Civil War all over the South that people are condemning and calling to take down, and the people defending them saying, “Well, this is our history. We can’t erase history.” Spoiler alert: they’re racist!
Royce: Also, like, the books still exist. There is still history in the library. It just doesn’t need to be on prominent display because of –
Courtney: Doesn’t need to be celebrated.
Royce: – you know, the lasting impact. The generational impact of it all.
Courtney: Yeah. 100%. But like, other comments here that are praising it – someone’s like, “Good bot”? Like, no not good bot. And someone said – and I don’t know if they meant this as a joke, or I don’t know if this was actually a moment where they were trying to have some self-reflection, but regardless, the response was bad. Someone said, “Are we the bad guys?” And the first comment was, “Duh. Insert Billie Eilish song here.” Hmm. Follow-up comment: “Yes. Now about that mustard gas.” Ugh. What are we doing? What… what are we doing? And someone says, “Bad guys? No, we have a goal and we want to achieve them, no matter the consequences.” Just… it’s not cute. [laughs] This is a bad look. And then someone saying, like, “Well, to be fair, Denmark and the German Empire never went to war, as far as I know.”
Royce: So about that history.
Courtney: [laughs] So, and here’s something I do also want to make very, very clear, because people have done this time and time again, and someone even linked to this in this very subreddit: people have taken the flag of Denmark with the Danish cross and basically just made it Asexual colors. That – I think that’s relatively harmless. At this point, I think the whole meme is trash and we need to throw it out. It’s done. It’s buried. We’re over it; we’re not invading Denmark. But I caught some commenters saying, like, “Oh, well, it’s just harmless. You’re just making the Danish flag and the Danish cross Asexual pride flag colors.” Like no, let us be abundantly clear: we’re talking about the Iron Cross, the Iron Cross of Germany. So this is not just the Danish flag we’re talking about. Bunch of people saying, “Oh, this is a cool flag design. This is a neat design.” And then, “The Iron Cross is far too cool a symbol to have been co-opted by dickheads,” and people are like, “Yeah, exactly!” It’s like, this is not ours to reclaim. I…
Royce: That’s a good point. In any sort of reclaiming, whether it’s of a word or a symbol or something like that, it’s the people who were harmed by the symbol that have the opportunity to potentially reclaim it.
Courtney: Yeah, this is not a reclaiming kind of situation. But the number of people like, “By the power of garlic bread, we shall rise!” [laughs] And people typing in German who probably themselves are not German, I don’t know, but “Das ist gut. Das ist sehr gut.” Like, stop. Stop.
Courtney: So let us be very, very clear. Antisemitism is on the rise. Fascism is on the rise. This is not a situation where we can just say, “Oh, it’s just a joke. Lighten up.” This has gone way past joke, and we need you all to understand that. Because I also don’t know what the Neo-Nazi culture is like in other countries. I know that fascism is on the rise all over the place, it’s not just the U.S., but I do also know that fascism can present itself very differently across different cultures.
Courtney: Here in the U.S., I have personal firsthand experience having conversations with people who have formerly been indoctrinated into groups like the skinheads, into other Neo-Nazi white supremacist hate groups. I know people who have left those groups and are starting to speak out about how those groups recruit, who they target, how they themselves got pulled into it – even though they themselves didn’t feel racist, they didn’t really back white supremacist ideology. I know people who have Iron Cross tattoos from their days in those racist groups. And for a lot of people that get indoctrinated into those groups, they don’t think they’re racist. They don’t usually start by thinking that the white race is superior. They don’t usually actually, cognizantly think about white supremacist ideology. But they are often very lonely. They are very isolated. They are angry. Probably three-fourths of the former Nazis who have defected and are spreading the word and trying to do advocacy to stop groups like this – probably three-fourths of those that I know are queer. Because they were disowned by their family, they were not able to find a queer community that was accepting of them.
Courtney: And so that’s why I think it is even more important that we have this conversation in the Ace community, and that our prominent activists and our prominent organizations speak up against this, and that we need to actually focus on fostering a true community that we can look out for one another and that we can commit to anti-racism and condemn the Nazi rhetoric, the extreme right-wing conspiracy theories, the antisemitic talking points. Because so often, we do feel isolated. There are young Aces who are just coming to learn this terminology or don’t know it yet, that don’t fully understand themselves, who maybe don’t even feel included in the more broadly queer community – because we are met with a lot of gatekeeping, in many cases, and it can be very difficult to find Ace community in person, in real life. And although there are some pockets of online communities that are Ace, not all of them are particularly close, not all of them are particularly personal. So to me, a young Ace queer person who is probably white, probably deeply hurt, probably has traumas, probably is very angry, spends a lot of time online, is the prime target for groups like this. That is exactly the kind of person that they would want to bring in.
Courtney: And for the people who don’t feel racist, the people who don’t feel like Nazis, it starts with symbols and making them seem a lot more moderate than they actually are. It’s, “Let’s get their foot in the door.” It’s talking about history: “Well, you know, it’s hard to argue with history, and these symbols did exist before the Nazis, so it’s not inherently Nazi.” Like, “You can reclaim this symbol. It’s okay.” They try to make you feel comfortable with these ideas, to get your foot in the door, before they go full mask off white supremacy. And we need to be abundantly aware of that.
Courtney: And if we see it in our community, if we see people using this flag with the Iron Cross, if we see people defending symbols like the old Iron Cross, if we see people making “Asexual Reich,” “Fourth Reich,” jokes, we need to shut it down. We need to condemn it. This is the – what’s that old story about the single Nazi in a bar? There are so many iterations of that anecdote that I’ve heard, but essentially it’s, “Oh, a bartender ought to kick out the first Nazi who enters the bar, because if you tolerate someone who comes in with Nazi imagery, with Nazi ideology, then they’ll feel comfortable, they’ll feel emboldened, they will bring their Nazi friends, and all of a sudden you are the Nazi bar, because you tolerated it and you let it spin out of control.” We can’t let that happen in this community.
Courtney: There are already way too many misconceptions about how Asexuality is a white thing. There are plenty of BIPOC Aces who will tell you that they are often met with skepticism, told that they can’t be Asexual, because traditionally their race – whether they be Black, Hispanic, in my case just being racially ambiguous, the word “exotic” gets thrown around a lot – there are people who are very much hypersexualized based on their race, so that adds an extra layer of complication to their Ace experience. So not only do we need to fight against that misconception that Asexuality is a white orientation, but we need to be very, very deliberately aware of how other people perceive us, how lonely and fractured we can be, and we need to be aware that we are at risk of being infiltrated by groups like this, by people who have these sorts of ideologies. We need to be very aware of the fact that there can be racism in our community and there has been racism in our community. We can’t just ignore it. We can’t just block it out. Because then we’d be complicit.
Courtney: And the thing is, I don’t care if you think that this symbol isn’t inherently racist. I, honestly, I don’t care to hear your arguments. It doesn’t matter. You’re not going to persuade me otherwise. I think we have shown evidence that people are very much perceiving it in a Nazi way, and I just – I care way more about Jewish Asexuals, about BIPOC Asexuals – I care so much more about their safety in this community than I do about a silly flag or a silly meme.
Royce: And it does go beyond just our community, too. Could you imagine this getting enough fanfare that someone showed up at a private event with a physical flag?
Courtney: Oh my gosh!
Royce: It’s like, symbols spread, and they get in front of everyone.
Courtney: It’s awful! It’s absolutely terrible. And the thing is – and here’s something, too. When I first tweeted about this to say, like, “Hey, cool it with the ‘Asexuals invade Denmark’ meme. You may have had your fun for a little bit,” there might have been a brief window of time where we could have argued that it was all in good fun, but like, once it gets to this point, all I see is that we were so casually laughing at the idea of invasion and war and colonization – it was so casual to us and so present and such a joke for so long that now we’re desensitized to a literal Iron Cross on an Asexual pride flag! [laughs] So, joke’s over. It’s done.
Courtney: When I first tweeted about this, there were people who were trying to make the point – and this isn’t a single person, this was multiple people – came to us saying, “It’s probably just Acephobic sockpuppet accounts trying to make us look bad. They’re just Acephobes out there that want other people to think that Aces are Nazis, and other people want to make Aces look racist and make us look like we’re white supremacist. Like, no real Aces would have actually done this.” Bullshit. Bullshit. And that’s the kind of thing – we can’t be erasing this. We can’t be sweeping it under the rug. We have to reconcile with the fact that there are Asexual people who are racist. Our community is not immune from doing harm to other marginalized groups.
Courtney: But then I also saw people who seemed to really be diminishing the issue of the symbol itself. Because when I brought up the point that, you know, Denmark was actually occupied by Nazi Germany, I had people saying, you know, “You really don’t need to be offended on behalf of the Danish.” [laughing] Was that what you got out of this? No, this is about the symbol of white supremacy! Because I also – I can imagine people making comments like that thinking, “Well, you know, Denmark is mostly white,” as if there aren’t Danish people of color, as if there aren’t Jewish Danes. And I even had someone – and like, this is where we’re at, I would hope this is where all of you are at as well. If you come onto our account and you make a comment like this, that’s a block from us. We actually had someone say, “Well, it’s just an innocent joke. I asked a Danish friend before commenting on this. It’s fine. Because one asshole invaded Denmark 80 years ago doesn’t mean that the joke is bad. Obviously, the symbol’s bad, but Denmark was only invaded to stop British minefields, not to kill Jews.” [sighs]
Royce: I don’t think this is an issue you can really try to split hairs about. I also don’t know that that’s accurate, but that’s not really the point.
Courtney: [laughs] Well, the thing is, like, it’s all one big thing. [laughs] Like, I’m just baffled. That comment doesn’t deserve a response, and that is why we get an instant block. But it’s like, this is a remarkably unsafe precedence for any Jewish Aces. Because in no uncertain terms, this whole situation was just steeped in antisemitism. It really was. 100%. If you are denying it at this point, then you are complicit. People need to understand what antisemitism looks like. People are telling you this is antisemitic. People are telling you this is racist. This is drenched in white supremacy.
Courtney: If you are not yet in a place where you know how to identify that, then at least listen: listen to us, listen to Jewish Aces, listen to BIPOC Aces, as you continue your own journey of Anti-racism. And if that’s something that seems daunting to you, if that’s something that you need assistance with, we do have resources, we do have community, we can help you. We do have ACAR. It is short for Aspecs Committed to Anti-Racism. It’s a Discord server. We also have some group meetings via Zoom. That is a group of over 100 Aces and Aros who are committed to doing this work. We’re all in different places in our journey. Some of us have been on an anti-racist journey for a decade or more. Some are brand new to it and have a lot of questions and do feel like there is so much out there to learn. But the point of this group is that we are able to have open and honest conversations and help one another. So you do not need to do this alone. But we need to know how to identify this in our community and stop it. It needs to be nipped in the bud.
Courtney: And of course, I mean, as with all groups of people, Jewish Aces are not a monolith. They are not all going to have exactly the same thoughts or feelings on this situation. But we have found, in starting this recent wave of this conversation, there have been Jewish Aces who have been talking about this before it got to this point. We have, for example here, a tweet from Aubri Lancaster from a month before this happened, before that cross ever got put on a flag, saying, “As a Jewish Asexual person in the diaspora, I really abhor the jokes about Asexuals secretly wanting to take over Denmark. Displacement is a huge part of generational trauma. Accusing Jews of wanting disproportionate power happens all the time and leads to pogroms.” At the time, before there was an Iron Cross in everybody’s face that was getting liked thousands upon thousands of times and retweeted hundreds of times and upvoted hundreds of times, no one paid any attention to that. That tweet did not take off. That did not spark a broader community conversation. All of this, honestly, may have been avoided if we had listened to Jewish Aces just like her, back when they started speaking about their discomfort.
Courtney: Because it’s very easy for someone who doesn’t have generational trauma like this to just be like, “Oh, tee-hee. It’s just a joke. It’s just a meme. It’s just silly. It’s all in good fun.” But that does come from a place of privilege, because you do not have an experience that makes it immediately clear that there might be some problematic components of this joke overall, that hasn’t personally affected you or your family or your community.
Courtney: And you know, here’s another thing too. Like, there were also some Acephobic comments on the original flag. I genuinely did see some comments that were like, “This is offensive to Germany,” [laughs] but the most angry, the most critical comment that I saw in the entire original thread was just critiquing the jokes about the population fizzling out because Aces can have sex. And to me, that is, like, missing the forest for the trees. You didn’t identify the white supremacy, the Nazi symbolism, the issue with invasion and colonization, and instead you are so concerned about people knowing that Aces can have sex, which has also been a recent conversation on Twitter – we probably aren’t going to get too far into it – but it’s sort of a, that is a different conversation. To me, if there’s a Nazi symbol on an Ace pride flag, that’s issue number one. That’s… stomp that out real fast first. We’ll take care of the rest later.
Courtney: And I do know that a lot of us in this community are young. A lot of us do not have a lot of experience learning about anti-racism. A lot of us maybe didn’t have the best history education in school. We’re all in different countries. We all have different firsthand examples of what white supremacy looks like in our worldview. But I want everyone to know that things like this don’t just come out of the blue. It may be a shock to you. You may not have seen it firsthand yet. But this doesn’t just come out of the blue. There have been community members who have been talking about racism in the community for years. And I have absolutely firsthand seen instances of people in Ace forums, on AVEN, on Reddit, in other Asexual places posting links to far-right conspiracy theorist websites that are known to be incredibly antisemitic. I have seen people in our own community call Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization. I have seen people in our community say that people on the left have become the “racist against white people” party. And a lot of this has come from calls to move toward a more anti-racist community, to speak out against racism, to condemn it when people in our spaces bring in this kind of rhetoric and this kind of imagery. And we need to reconcile with that and have a real conversation about what we’re going to do about it.
Courtney: So… [sighs] where do we go from here? Since we started the conversation about this on Twitter, there were Reddit users who reported the post in r/aaaaaaacccccccce, and to Reddit’s credit – oh, Reddit credit, that’s very fun to say – to Reddit’s credit, they actually removed it very quickly after it got reported. So you can still see the thread with the comments, but the flag, the picture, is gone. I know many have tried to report the flag on Twitter from the original post of the flag mashup bot. Twitter’s gonna Twitter and hasn’t been taken down and I don’t suspect that it will. Should you see this flag anywhere else – because it’s still findable, I know there are people who have downloaded it, I know there are people who have started sharing it in other places – I encourage you to report it, speak out against it, call people out or call them in, don’t let it into your own spaces, don’t let it into your own niche. If you see it, it’s got to go. I call on groups who have some level of authority, some level of moderation amongst the different niches within the Ace community – the AVEN moderators, the moderators of Asexual subreddits, the moderators of Asexual Discords – to stay informed about issues like this, to make sure that it does not stay allowed in your groups. We cannot allow this.
Courtney: And at this point, I’m not even just talking about the flag with the Iron Cross. I think the entire “invading Denmark” meme – I think we need to retire it. I really do. I think we need to examine how quickly people used that meme to defend imagery associated with Nazis. Because there’s no getting around that that is exactly what has happened. And I encourage any and all of you who did not know that this was happening, any of you who are surprised by this, any of you who did not understand how big of an issue it is, or why it was an issue – I encourage you to join us on ACAR, if you’re able. We will put a link in the show notes of this podcast that you may click to find the server. We will have just a few questions that you’ll answer before full admittance into the group, but you will find a group of Aspecs there who are committing to an anti-racist journey. We have a ton of resources that we’re sharing there: books, podcasts, videos, lots of different ways to consume different anti-racist media. And we will, as a group, work with each other, because this is – the goal of this group is to try to make real, meaningful, lasting change within the community, and a lot of that’s going to involve looking inward and finding out how you yourself may have been complicit in the white supremacist system, in racist rhetoric, and to help you fine-tune your ability to notice when things like this have gone too far. Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch things like this earlier, so that we don’t have to get to literal Nazi symbolism. I shouldn’t be surprised with fascism on the rise, with antisemitism on the rise, but my goodness gracious, the number of people defending this symbol as something that isn’t a symbol of hate? The Iron Cross is literally on the list of symbols designated by the Anti-Defamation League as hate symbols. That ship has sailed.
Courtney: So, on that note, I think we are about ready to wrap up for today. Hopefully next week, we’ll have a little bit of a lighter, happier podcast episode for you, but of course, that’s no guarantee. But regardless, that does not mean that this conversation is over. We can’t let this just be a trend that we talk about and get upset about for a certain period of time. And then just allow it to trail off and never acknowledge it again. Because we do need to work towards meaningful lasting change in the community, and we can’t allow this precedence to take hold and continue as it has for so long.