Costumes and Tolerance
I’m intolerant of intolerance. That makes me a hypocrite.
Not too long ago, I was in downtown Bozeman, photographing the annual Bozeman Classic running race. Bozeman has a high “buff factor,” as one new arrival put it. Lots of people enjoy lots of exercise and there is a pretty steady diet of running races in and around our area. These are usually fun, social events with a wide range of abilities welcome and celebrated. And oftentimes, people like to dress up.
Then, on my way back to the car, I see this guy:
I said it before: I’m intolerant of intolerance. That makes me a hypocrite.
So I photographed this man and his tattoos. I was offended by his audacity, by his pride. I looked up the words permanently written into his flesh. The words he paraded down Main Street in my town, in front of my friends and my family. The words have a hateful history, used by Hitler to justify the Holocaust. How can I be tolerant of that? In my eyes, this man stands for hatred, he stands for evil. He stands for everything that is wrong with our world today.
I should have talked to him, gotten his side of the story. But I didn’t. I was too shocked, too outraged.
The day after I made these photographs, Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
Yesterday, the temple held services for the first time since the shootings. They talked about healing, about moving on, about coming together.
I doubt I would have been that strong if I were in their place.