The best response to neo-Nazis? Humor and non-violence
We are confronted with the question of how to thoughtfully and responsibly respond to the White Supremacists who are spreading hate and violence in this country. Humor and non-violence are the best ways to respond.
Intolerance has long been part of the history in this country and this valley. The Klu Klux Klan was active here in the 1920s, even participating in the Apple Blossom Parade. Klan members dug a 40-foot- by 100-foot cross that was filled with rubbish and set on fire to gather the faithful. Many leading organizations, including The Wenatchee Daily World, have supported intolerance in our valley. 1908, this newspaper editorialized in favor of Japanese exclusion, arguing that “in our judgment, Wenatchee….. should discourage the migration of Japanese in our midst.”
White Supremacy is making a comeback in our society. As we saw in Charlottesville recently, some opponents of the neo-Nazis have adopted violence as a tool, an approach that plays into the hands of the intended targets by supporting their myth of being victims.
Lauren Loebsack of Waterville sent me a note last week suggesting that we should make readers aware that a town in Germany has had great success by making fun of Nazis. Wunseidel, a German town near the Czech border, has for years witnessed annual neo-Nazi marches because the town was the original burial place of Rudolf Hess, according to a story in the New York Times recently.
Rather than turning to violence and confrontation as a response, the townsfolk turned the march into a fundraiser to help those seeking to extricate themselves from neo-Nazi groups. The town donates money based on the length of the march. They call it “the Right against the Right” and signs along the way thank the marchers for helping defeat Nazism. Other communities hold “Nazis against Nazis” rallies to similar effect. Some anti-Nazi groups dress up as clowns to underscore how ridiculous the White Supremacists appear.
This is a brilliant idea — a far more effective way to deal with extremists than responding with violence. The moral courage and discipline of non-violence, which characterized the heart of the struggle for civil rights in this country in the 1960s, is the more enlightened path. Violence only begets more violence.