In this autobiographical essay, I narrate my experience of being positioned in public as naive in my profession and a traitor to my country after publishing an op-ed in Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, in which I argued that Sweden should not join NATO — the transatlantic military alliance. Some of the negative reactions came from within my own workplace. I had just been promoted to Professor at the Swedish Defence University and colleagues thought I had also betrayed them and the university by publishing the piece. In this essay, I disclose some of the reactions I encountered but, more importantly, I try to understand the effect they had on me, recounting my own inner dialogue of shame and resistance. At times I worried that I lacked expertise or even secretly harboured an affinity with the country that is now seen to motivate a Swedish NATO membership — i.e. Russia. At other times, I tried to turn the tables on the stigmatisers, claiming that it was they who had to change. While I work in a highly militarised environment, I think the fear of social death and professional shame I explore in this essay has broader resonance.