Archive for August, 2017

I think we all agree that Nazis are bad. Evil. Their ideology and their “Third Reich” caused untold suffering and destruction, costing millions of lives. It should not be celebrated. It should not be defended. It should not be encouraged or promoted. It should always be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

All that said, I also think that Pres. Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville was right on target, and I’ll tell you why.

Close to 20 years ago now, I lived in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Twenty minutes to the north is a sleepy little town called, “Hayden Lake.” Hayden Lake had the unfortunate distinction of having a white supremacist “compound” a few miles outside of town. Richard Butler and his skinhead Aryan Nations “Church” (tax dodge) came to be synonymous with North Idaho, and Hayden Lake became guilty by association (I suspect Charlottesville is currently suffering from something similar).

Now, every year Coeur d’Alene hosts a big 4th of July parade, right down Main Street. It’s quite the big deal. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people come out from all around to watch the floats, the marchers, the bands, enjoy the music and food in the park, stake out a claim for your picnic blanket, and stay all day to watch the fireworks at night. It’s an annual tradition, and we never missed a year.

Except. One year, Mr. Butler and his “family” decided that they wanted to have a “parade” as well. They applied for, and were granted, a permit for the march. The town council and the citizenry were in an uproar! They didn’t want the Aryan Nation wackos in their town! Up went the hue and cry, but to no avail. The town could not legally deny them a permit, and so the march would move forward.

And you know what the town did?

Nothing.

On the day of the parade, just before the appointed hour, businesses all along main-street closed up shop. Locked their doors. “Closed” signs in the window. No one came to line the streets. No bands were playing. There were only a scattering of vocal protestors, and they were kept in check by the police (unlike in Charlottesville). I was very nearly a ghost town.

The Aryan’s wanted to make a splash, cause a ruckus, to assert their “rights.” And they tried.

And we ignored them. We belittled them with our silence. We spurned them and their ideology with our collective absence. We didn’t give them the satisfaction of a response. We turned our backs on their hate.

So they came with their four vehicles, packed with shaven-headed youths in their white t-shirts and suspenders. They “marched” down Main Street to the park, where they had their “rally.” They blathered on for half an hour, attended solely by a scant handful of protestors cordoned off some distance away. And then they left.

And the stores opened back up, the people came back out, and we went on with the day. There were no fights. No smashed windows. And only a few raised voices.

That is how you deal with that kind of hate. Don’t give it an audience. Deny it a forum by denying it a crowd. If you must oppose it, sing. Pray. Dance. Oppose their hate with joy. Not with black face masks and baseball bats. If you really want to “oppose” people like that…LAUGH AT THEM.

Would there have been violence, or death, in Charlottesville if “antifa” and their associates had all stayed home?

I think I can say with some confidence that few in Charlottesville wanted the Nazis there. But did they really want a “counter-protest” group who showed up spoiling for a fight, either?

So, when Pres. Trump suggests that both sides had some measure of blame for the violence that occurred, I think he is spot on. Nazis and Aryans and their ilk are belligerent and violent by nature. They expect hostility, and are prepared to respond in kind.

But these “antifa” are the same folks who show up to riot at UC-Berkeley, all too ready to bring violence to bear to oppose the terrible dangers of having a conservative commentator speak on campus. So, when they showed in Charlottesville, in full regalia, it made confrontation nearly inevitable.

Couple that with the bizarre incompetence or gross malfeasance on the part of local law enforcement in their complete failure to do anything to de-escalate or defuse the situation, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Highlighting the role or burden of liability this other group played in what happened does not mean you defend or diminish the evil that is Nazism, or the abhorrent nature of their professed ideology. It doesn’t mean you have to be sympathetic to either side. It simply means you assign blame where blame is due.

The last few days it’s become clear that there is acceptable violence, and unacceptable violence. The “antifa” marchers who showed up to counter-protest the Nazis and other white nationalists are being portrayed as freedom fighters, some even going so far as to compare them to the soldiers who fought the Nazis in WWII. Except….Easy Company didn’t wear masks.

If we are going to stand against hate and violence, let’s stand against in all its forms, regardless of the source, Left or Right.

It is sad and unfortunate that a group of white supremacists decided to descend on Charlottesville and spew their hate. But, instead of gearing up and heading in for a fight, a much better response would have been to ignore them. Let them have their say, and then watch in stony silence as they drive away.

And then move on with the day.

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