Neo-Nazis have marched before in the U.S.A. I was there. It was 1978 and they had a two weekend long hate-fest which began in Skokie, Illinois ( home to a large number of Holocaust survivors). I read about the outrageous event the day after it occurred and was shocked to discover that on the following Sunday there would be a “part two,” to be held in Chicago’s Marquette Park. Los Angeles Newspaper editor Phil Blazer announced he would be organizing like-minded citizens to travel with him on a late Saturday night flight to Chicago to stand up against the neo-Nazis. It was the first time my husband and I put our bodies where our hearts were. We were on that flight and found ourselves the next morning, in the midst of beer-drinking thugs who were shouting “Hitler should have finished the job!” and “Heat up the gas ovens.”
There is nothing new under the proverbial sun. There are a few differences however. Then, the Jews of Chicago, knowing these events were scheduled and permits had been issued, held meetings in their communities and decided not to protest. They stayed home. The thirty of us who flew in from Los Angeles were the only visible Jews at the event. Chicago Jews decided to “Ignore them, and they will go away.” We were not sure that our presence made any difference, but we could not sit at home while this travesty was taking place. There were four hundred mounted police at the event. We were told they were in place to protect us, should things get out of hand.
We were joined by an Orthodox Rabbi from North Hollywood, Rabbi Zvi Block, who led our tiny delegation in prayers directly in front of the Neo Nazi platform. One might ask why that mattered. When we returned to Los Angeles that night, we turned on our televisions to discover that our prayer service was on every major news network. Because we prayed, the world thought that the Jews stood up for themselves. The camera doesn’t lie? That was life lesson number one. What the camera records is not the whole truth, but a segment of it. It was the first time that I came to realize life lesson number two: “the power of one.” Had we not been at the event, there would have been no visible Jewish presence at all. We would have appeared to have cowered. But thirty of us did not.
I cannot recall then Prime Minister Menachem Begin being asked to make a statement about this disgusting group of Americans wearing their swastikas, nor did the President of the United States take time from his busy schedule to give them his attention. Both leaders knew then, that whilst it is a democratic right to protest, perverted views of a few did not deserve the attentions of national leaders. Such empowerment would have simply reinforced their sense of self-importance. When the two-day abomination concluded, the neo-Nazis crawled back into the holes from which they came. They were but a footnote in Chicago history.
Times are indeed different now. President Trump had no choice but to comment on the rally in Charlottesville. Unfortunately, he spoke without sufficient clarity the first time. It is now credibly reported that at the time he knew that both the Alt-left and Alt-right had brought their own thugs to the party. If he had articulated that in a clearer fashion, he could have avoided much of the criticism which followed. Thugs are thugs…. Baseball bats in the hands of either side are unacceptable. Most of us did not know what he knew at the time. The pattern of prior behavior from those who have forced highly esteemed speakers off their platforms at College Campuses is the antithesis of free speech. Beating up supporters of your opponents is unacceptable. We now know that the free flow of ideas on University campuses is a myth supported by the institutions themselves. Creating underground agendas and executing them is an expensive proposition. Someone is funding and promoting violence from the Antifa groups and their associates. Freedom of speech is not a license to perpetrate violence. Most Americans know nothing of the funding of the Alt-left agenda. Most do not care. They will one day. They will look back at how they have been manipulated and they will be shocked. In the meantime, their “holier than thou” journalists are having a field-day.
One such journalist is Lawrence Rifkin who wrote a two-page spread in the Jerusalem Post magazine slamming Netanyahu for not making a public statement against the Neo-Nazis. He could also not believe that a Nazi Hunter like Dr. Efriam Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel office, was so unexcited about the events in Charlottesville. It is time that the Post hired some staff writers who are capable of looking beneath the surface of issues. Had Netanyahu made any statement about the thugs who gathered at the Charlottesville rally, he would have impowered them. Imagine the pride they would have garnered if the Prime Minister of the State of Israel paid attention to their pathetic rally! It was enough that President Trump was caught up in the morass.
If you did not read the article, Dr. Zuroff made the most important point of all. He clearly explained that there is a massive difference between individuals who are “haters” and governments who turn hate into policy. The risk from an individual is minimal. The risk from a government is massive. That is the premise of free speech in America. The one Charlottesville woman who unfortunately was killed by a deranged man in his automobile, and those injured, were part of the collateral damage of free speech. Copy-cat vehicular massacres are becoming so common, that only those directly affected by their cruelty will soon pay attention. Our ability to be shocked by vile human behavior is disintegrating by the second. We are becoming de-sensitized to the horrors which haters of all description perpetrate on us all. On multiple occasions, this horror began with Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists using cars to plow into innocent Israelis waiting for a bus. It was so successful that the Arab websites encouraged this form of unpredictable slaughter. Television world-wide reported the phenomenon over and over again. Now copy-cat cowards around the globe are murdering citizens of every nation with their vehicles.
It is definitely time for media executives to re-think how they cover the atrocities of the 21st century. They hold in their hands much responsibility for the glorification of rioting and violence. How much news coverage will be showered upon future perpetrators? Fifteen minutes of glory for the haters. A lifetime of pain for the victims and their families.