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A Compilation of Situations in Which Being Apolitical Is Not Okay

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Mar 11, 2020

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Image Credit: Corbis Images

When we were raised as children, Switzerland was our paragon of neutrality, because the nation did not actively participate in the World Wars. The idea of being neutral, when the world is black and white, sounds good because it absolves you of personal guilt or involvement in any situation. If it isn’t your business — how can you feel guilty?

It’s a nice enough evasive strategy until you find out that while Switzerland chose to accept around 30,000 Jews as refugees, they also turned away more than 20,000 refugees who later died in concentration camps. Swiss banks stored money, art, and gold belonging to Holocaust victims, stolen and deposited by Nazis, and Swiss bankers did business with both Germany and Italy — both fascist nations at the time. ‘Given the fact it borders Germany, it was natural for [Switzerland] to lean more toward the Axis powers,” Arno J. Mayer, a professor of history at Princeton University, told The New York Times.

Neutrality is but an illusion constructed to ensure survival. And in current times, it is evident that those who are neutral are those who find themselves so privileged that they find nothing to lose, even as populism becomes extremism becomes fascism. And there’s only one group that loses nothing when fascism takes reign.


Related on The Swaddle:

Little Big Things: A 25‑Year‑Old’s Shift From Being Apolitical to Protesting NRC‑CAA


In any case, we made you a list of times in which being apolitical was perhaps the single worst thing anyone could have done:

  • Japanese atrocities against World War II colonies
  • The Vietnam War
  • The time you found out your young cousins were anti-Muslim extremists and didn’t care too much.
  • The Iraq War
  • The German Nazi Holocaust
  • The time you stopped reading the news because it got too ‘morbid’
  • The Stonewall Riots
  • The Rohingya genocide in Myanmar
  • The time you didn’t vote to keep an extremist party out of power.
  • Tiananmen Square protests in China
  • The Arab Spring
  • The time you refused to attend a protest, because ‘what’s the point’
  • The Chinese occupation of Tibet
  • The Syrian revolution
  • The time you found it too tiresome to refute your parents’ extremism
  • Kashmir’s internet blockade
  • Israel’s war against Palestine
  • The time you chose to look the other way while riots claimed the people of your country
  • The Delhi communal anti-Muslim violence
  • Now

Now is important, as every single moment of chaos you choose to stay neutral in could land you on the side of tyrants, incendiaries and those who celebrate the loss of innocent lives. In situations of conflict where the lives of innocent are at stake, neutral is never nothing; it is always violence.

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle, with an interest in cultural analysis, environment, and the science of mental health.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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