It’s interesting what happens when Nazis march.
For one thing, judging from some of the reactions I’ve gotten about yesterday’s piece, there are a lot of people who seem to be offended when someone brings up the historical fact that we used to shoot Nazis.
I am not sure why this is, since it is an incontrovertible fact and it did make the world a better place. If you can stand before me and argue that humanity was not improved significantly by the defeat and near-eradication of the Nazis in 1945, you have serious moral issues.
As I noted in a comment to yesterday’s post, I am not advocating that we run around randomly shooting Nazis today just because they are Nazis. And “Fuck you sideways with a Buick” is a metaphor of hyperbolic disgust that I have used for decades now in all kinds of situations, not something I specifically created for yesterday’s events. Those who use cars as weapons deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I’ll leave the mindless violence to the Nazis, since it seems to be the one thing they’re good at.
My point, which I want absolutely clear, is that as Americans we once understood what evil was and treated it accordingly. The fact that this evil now feels safe marching in our streets, shouting their dumbass slogans and waving their tiki-torches around (FFS, we can’t even have serious Nazis – we have Nazi Bros), is a damning indictment of our current political situation. The pull quote from yesterday’s post, as far as I am concerned, was this: “This is what people insist was the Greatest Generation in American history spent half a decade trying to eradicate from the surface of the earth, and it is here again in our midst, to the everlasting shame of America.” The United States bled to get rid of Nazis, and much of the world did as well. Many countries bled far more than we did. For Nazis to march unashamed in our streets now marks a failure of American society that needs to be redressed.
Fuck the Nazis.
What has been heartening, really, is the reaction that this Nazi atrocity and bloodletting has caused among actual Americans.
The widespread outpouring of revulsion and condemnation across the country has been precisely what one would hope for in a situation where an American citizen was killed on American soil for opposing Nazis. It has generated an entirely appropriate wave of anger – real anger – among those who value what this country is and could be. “I don’t mean the kind of angry that makes people do stupid stuff,” said my friend Andrew. “I mean the kind of core of your soul anger that makes society fight back.” Because we do need to fight back, to show those Nazi cockroaches just how pathetic, small, and hopeless they are.
What I have found even more heartening, though, has been the reaction from American conservatives, who are finally, perhaps, beginning to realize that they need to own their radical fringe and purge them instead of pandering to them and accepting them as a key part of their base.
Orrin Hatch, who has demonstrated several times this long hot summer that he may well be someone I can disagree with and still respect, was fairly blunt. “We should call evil by its name,” he wrote in tweets that he was very careful to say were his and not composed by his staff. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. … Their tiki torches may be fueled by citronella but their ideas are fueled by hate, & have no place in civil society.”
Ted Cruz – Ted Cruz of all people – denounced these Nazis in no uncertain terms. “The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate,” he wrote. “Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
National Security Advisor HR McMaster was dismissive of people who want to make false equations between the two sides in Virginia. “Of course it was terrorism,” he said in an interview on Meet the Press. Yes indeed, it was.
Even Fox News, usually a stalwart lapdog of right wing nonsense, flatly declared that the Nazi march was a “white supremacist rally” and repeatedly described it as such in several different headlines and throughout a number of different stories. What is perhaps most telling was the editorial they published written by Bruce Ashford, Provost of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It declared that “White conservatives – especially white Christian conservatives – should speak out openly against white nationalism and white supremacy. This is racism pure and simple, and it represents a frontal assault on the Christian gospel, a denial of human dignity and a subversion of our democracy.”
This is what this country needs. We need a sane conservative movement that will reject the extremists who pervert it, that will form a rational counterbalance to whatever passes for the left these days. It needs people who can be disagreed with without fearing for the lives and safety of American citizens or the future of the republic. And if there can be a silver lining to the black cloud of Nazis openly and unashamedly marching in American streets, perhaps that's it.
One can hope.