The fact that we even need to be having this discussion is troubling for the future of our nation.
While the focus on science, technology, English and math – STEM – is great, I can’t help but think that equal attention needs to be given to history and civics in our schools.
The fact that our president thinks there are good Nazis is shocking. That he continues to appease members of the KKK with his statements – indeed, former Klansman David Duke said “We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump … he said he's going to take our country back and that's what we gotta do.” – and how he continues to offer a presidential platform to hate groups is abhorrent.
The fact that condemnation from Republican elected leaders has been sparse, and mostly muted, is all the more troubling.
I do applaud all the people who are standing up against this, and mourn those whose lives have been taken, but far too many people in this country remain with their noses buried in the cellphones sharing the latest pictures of celebrities or wrapped up in their own little world, going on with their day as if this is totally normal.
My grandparents, and likely the parents and grandparents of many others who fought and, in many instances gave their lives standing up against this type of evil, are rolling over in their graves. Hitler believed in a superior race and he started a world war in his effort to “cleanse” the population of those who were not pure. Millions of Jews died. In gas chambers. In mass executions. Men, women, children. It didn’t matter.
Before that, it was the Turks killing Armenians. Afterward, so-called “ethnic cleansing” in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and elsewhere.
Wars based on ideologies – from the Crusades to today’s Isis – have stained the earth with blood through the centuries, as have wars fought over land or a people’s right to be free (think of our own War of Independence). But wars that are rooted in one group’s belief that they are somehow superior because of the color of their skin, and their belief that others are somehow subhuman (and in many cases should be exterminated), have traditionally been seen as particularly abhorrent.
There have always been racists among us, and there always will be. When you are narcissistic and harbor false delusions of grandiosity, it isn’t uncommon to see this manifest in a superiority complex as these people struggle to compensate for their own inferiorities.
The Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville wore swastikas. They gave Hitler-like sieg-heil salutes. They chanted anti-Semitic slogans. Likewise, the KKK supporters in the group rallied against African Americans. These groups may have been using the occasion of controversy over a confederate statue as a pretext for their protest – they have become adept over the years at co-opting controversies and twisting them to fit their skewed thinking – but there was no mistaking their ultimate goal. The speakers at the event – speakers like former Klan leader David Duke – made everything all too clear.
They want to “cleanse” society of anyone who does not look like or act like them. They are superior human beings. Everyone else is less than human and should be killed.
I’m sorry Mr. President, but there were no “good” Nazis or Klansmen at that rally. Anyone who simply wanted to keep that statue and who found themselves in the middle of a group of people chanting sieg-hail, wearing swastikas and advocating violence would have left immediately. No, they were all bad people. Sick people. People who are so insecure with themselves that they have to blame their failures on others.
History shows that the world will not tolerate this type of hatred. It also shows, through the rise of despots, what happens if this behavior is tolerated. We just have to make sure today’s generations, and those to come, know what history has taught us. For that, we need to add more history lessons to STEM, and we have to convince all the bystanders to stop staring at their cell phone screens for one minute and look around at what is happening to their country.
There are no good Nazis. This is not normal. We should not even have to be having this discussion. The fact that we are is a very troubling sign for the future of our nation.
Jim Lee is the editor for GateHouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org