On Rising White Supremacism

Sometimes you have to stand up and speak out. Even when it’s against the current. Even when there may be a personal cost. Even when those around you try and convince you to mind your own business. Simon Wiesenthal himself urged us to never be silent and always pursue the path of justice.

The world is complicated. Sometimes knowing right from wrong is even more complicated. But hate is hate and it should be condemned unconditionally. If more people stood up and spoke out against the Nazis in 1933, the Holocaust might have been averted.

It has been a very difficult and emotionally charged week. Unbelievably, President Donald Trump tried to draw a moral equivalence between the Nazi white supremacists and the counter-protesters in Charlottesville, blaming both sides for the mayhem. And while he condemned the Nazi white supremacists, he seemed to also be condemning those who opposed them.

Naturally, this further emboldened white supremacists like David Duke who tweeted “thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists.”

To be clear, white supremacism is a belief that white people are superior to all other races, especially Jews and Africans, and should therefore dominate society. They believe that humanity has a racial hierarchy where white (Europeans especially) are at the top. This racist doctrine is also associated with German Nazi ideology of the Aryan Master Race which graded Aryans from pure Aryans to non-Aryans. One senior Nazi commander commented in 1943: “We are a master race, which must remember that the lowliest German worker is racially and biologically a thousand times more valuable than the population here.”

White supremacism reinforced by Nazi genocidal agenda must be vigorously denounced and impaired. It was white supremacism that led to slavery in America and to the Holocaust in Europe, and from this there are major lessons to be drawn. We can never ever mind our own business or stay silent. Watching the white supremacists marching unabashedly on the streets of Charlottesville, torches and racist flags in hand, shouting “Jews will not replace us” reinforced my resolve that we must strengthen our obsession to educate and counter hate and intolerance.

The world is interconnected and ideology sees no borders. On the heels of Charlottesville came an announcement of a National Front rally to be held in Toronto (now cancelled because of public pressure). At the same time reports from all over the country began to pour. In Winnipeg more racist graffiti was found, including statements like “The KKK is Here” and “Lost White Civilizations.” Worse, a Calgary school trustee (a visible minority) was threatened that she would be “lying dead on the street” like the Charlottesville protester. According to reports, a Facebook “post threatened that the neo-Nazi Aryan Guard group, which has been active in Calgary in the past, would find out where she lives, telling her to ‘beware.'”

And in a Collingwood East Vancouver suburb, flyers were distributed to homes yesterday with a picture of Hitler and the Nazi Eagle. The headline on the vile flyer read, “The World Defeated the Wrong Enemy.”

Nothing can pass us by. When we spoke about Never Again – we meant that we would make it our business and take a stand no matter the discomfort. Pushing hate back into its dark hole – including incidents liken the vile terrorism that took place in Barcelona yesterday – should be atop of humanity’s agenda. It is the number one issue that can disrupt and destroy civilization as we know it – and therefore, each of us has a responsibility to act.

Simon Wiesenthal said, “Freedom is not a gift from heaven, you must fight for it each and every day of your life.” There are people working in the shadows to take away our freedoms – and terrorize us. We must stand up to them, now or never.

About the Author
Avi Benlolo is the President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), a Jewish non-profit human rights organization. Avi is a prominent Canadian human rights activist dedicated to promoting tolerance, freedom, democracy and human rights.
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