I think it was a foregone conclusion that I would someday hear a story like the one that appeared on the local news late last night concerning neo-Nazis living in my hometown. They seemed to have wasted no time in cruising our various neighborhoods until they found the one which erroneously embodies all their paranoid, racist Trumpian worldviews and left their mark, not unlike a stray dog marking his territory on a tree. After all, Richard Spencer, noted anti-Semite, racist and originator of the expression “alt-right” now lives in our city. I am not sure who told him what a fertile ground our historic little burg would be for his special brand of racism, but he is here and it is high time we encourage him to move elsewhere—say to Idaho. If you have never heard of him, feel free to take this opportunity to look him up on Google. He worked at Breitbart News with Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s special “advisor.” Then go to Youtube and watch him being cold-cocked at the Inauguration. You will enjoy it as much as the several hundred thousands of viewers have—including me.
Last night, because of Richard Spencer, our local newscast showed flyers tacked to telephone poles and road signs warning the locals that people of color were plotting to take over our town and challenging us to stop them before they could overrun us “white people.” This is where I mention that our sleepy little colonial town is located seven miles from our Nation’s Capitol. George Washington’s plantation, Mount Vernon, is only nine miles away. The Commonwealth of Virginia is where our nation actually began. The American Declaration of Independence would not have happened but for the Virginia General Assembly resolutions calling for independence from Great Britain in Williamsburg. Our early politicians, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, George Mason, James Madison and Patrick Henry gave voice to ideals such as freedom of speech. However, they did not intend for that speech to be filled with hatred of others. In much the same way that they likewise did not intend that the “right to bear arms” meant everyone should today own an AK-47 or Uzi.
While these neo-Nazi Neanderthals were gluing their missives on our neighborhod trashcans, they were obviously not aware that across the street from their postings was the original location of my grandparents’ grocery store—my Russian Jewish immigrant grandparents’ home and the house where they raised my aunt and father who became a noted attorney and judge. In a way, I am glad my father is not alive to see what has occurred in a place that he loved so well and from which he fought so hard to rid these influences from our midst. He would be appalled. It is strange to see behavior that one usually finds in poor, overcrowded slums than in a neighborhood filled with $800,000 homes, but clearly, they are reaching out. I have no idea what propelled someone to think they would find fertile ground for racism here, but they will keep doing these things until we remove them.
It is somewhat heartening to know that the police are investigating the matter, although it is not clear at this point if anyone will ever be found and charged with any crime. Free speech is one thing, hate speech is another thing entirely.