Again? Or is it truly a case of fighting forever.
The so-called Alt Right – Nazis, white supremacists, religious zealots and politics of hate and prejudice – is raising its ugly head across the country. It seems each generation is faced with the challenge of pushing back hate in all of its ugly forms. The latest iteration, and believe me, these guys are far from original, has gained new life because of the absence of condemnation from the very top. The president relied on, catered to and otherwise invited bigotry into the shrinking tent called the “Republican Party”. In Idaho, some call themselves “redoubters” and “patriots”, which seems to have replaced the failed Aryan Nations ousted by David Wassmuth and friends that led the the establishment of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. This time around, they seem to have at least one thing in in common – Donald Trump.
How does this really effect us? Here’s the real push. We are a welcoming city. We go far beyond tolerance… we embrace diversity. And when I say we, I mean all of us. The people doing the embracing are from all religions, races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures and sexual orientations. The North End has a history of standing up to prejudice. And now we are being challenged by an small, but emboldened population whose “white identity” is being challenged. And they have taken their cue from the president. Trump has said time and time again that there is no place for political correctness. He ran on and has implemented policies on refugees and immigration that singles out families who are Muslim, and lost in the courts. He has removed protections and opportunities for transgender brothers and sisters, allowed parents of Latino Americans to be summarily deported ignoring precedent.
When the president of the United States takes aim at LGBTQ, latinos, blacks, Muslims and denigrates the media when they call him on it, you are seeing the same play book that led to what happened in Germany in the 1930’s.
UPDATE 08/16/17 My remarks shown below were posted in a thread on The Northend Facebook group (click here) in response to comments to a post about a confederate flag being flow from a truck in the North End. Read the entire post here but commenting has been turned off.
Ok, we’re going to wrap up the comments in this thread. Three things are very clear:
1) some don’t believe the emergence of the confederate flag cruising the North End is intimidation. Considering we have a large population of refugees, a black state Senator, a great reputation for accepting people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations which the “right” doesn’t generally approve of, it isn’t a wonder to me that there are people who are feeling emboldened… like KKK, redoubters and neo-nazi asshats.
2) Some do not seem to understand not all “speech” is protected. Unprotected speech can be classified into obscenity, fighting words, fraudulent misrepresentation, advocacy of imminent lawless behavior, and defamation. You can decide if flying a flag that is generally accepted represents white supremacy, racism and intolerance fits any of those classifications.
3) There are many who would like to think the North End has always been a cool place. Again, for the hundredth time, the North End got where it is today because of the efforts of many, many people who worked hard to re-build the neighborhood with progressive ideas. Those include historic preservation, implementing sustainable development practices, cherishing and preserving our historic public schools and institutions, expanding and protecting our environment through community actions like the foothills levy, supporting opportunity for everyone new and old, from whatever background, and the list goes on and on.
It is on all of us to embrace the ideas and ideals that keep our community moving forward despite the efforts of some to push us backwards.