Many millennials don't know shit about the "Greatest Generation" of Americans who gave everything to defeat Nazi evil. Sen. Orrin Hatch does. Responding to POTUS' insufficient response to the cowardly white-supremacist attack by James Alex Fields Jr. in Charlottesville, Va., the senator tweeted: "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."
Mormons are well-versed in the history of running from persecution. Hate has dogged them since the early 1800s and still does, but has been hidden since it became less socially acceptable to hate minorities. Jews, Catholics and LGBTQ people were killed during Hitler's regime in the 1930s and '40s and remained in danger thereafter—same as Mormons had been in America—proving that, historically, white supremacists don't stand for all white people.
Southern nationalist groups are, in fact, a bunch of neo-Confederate ignoramuses who don't even realize that the Confederate flag they so proudly wave is the un-American battle flag that was used to replace the American Flag and the United States of America, if they had succeeded. The Civil War was lost. One-hundred and fifty-two years later, they still carry around their losing rebel flag of defeat and humiliation. In a way, it's pretty pathetic.
Some of these misguided DIY historians have added the swastika, not because it has any meaning to them, but because they are too ignorant to know these all are symbols of defeat. Far-right "supremacists" should learn that the Nazi symbol they conflate with the American flag was actually the symbol of the deadliest war in history. We bandy around the very big and horrific number of Jews killed during the Holocaust—more than 8 million. But it wasn't just Jews. As many as 85 million died, including some 25 million Russians and more than 4 million German citizens. That's what swastika-carrying, Confederate flag-waving Southern nationalists represent: death, destruction and, ultimately, loss.
It reminds me of when I was in school and young ignoramuses of that time wore T-shirts with silhouettes of South American communist revolutionary Che Guevara and hammer-and-sickle logos. These dummies were what we might today call far-left. They wore symbols of defiance at the time, which turned out to be symbols of defeat.
KKK members were the original street gangstas with their own "hoodies," who intimidated and killed people in unfair fights. Like the South American splinter of the MS-13 in Southern California. Like Nazi brownshirt youths who felt invincible because Nazi culture and government officials stood with them, turning a blind eye as they violated everyone who did not pass their blond-hair, blue-eye purity test. They all ended up as losers.
When bullies have an unfair advantage to escape justice—like former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is seeking a presidential pardon after being convicted for violating a judge's order to not inflict upon people's constitutional rights—evil flourishes.
But you, I and the rest of the world eventually wake up. In Germany, it's a crime to use the Nazi salute. In Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, Confederate symbols are no longer seen as historic, but as signs of criminal, bullying inhumanity.
Many cities are acting quickly to remove Civil War monuments before more confrontations arise. Taking a play from the tearing down of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, a crowd of anti-fascists in Durham, N.C., recently beat the government to the punch when they pulled down a Confederate statue in response to the white nationalists in Charlottesville. CEOs of Merck, Intel, Under Armour, Disney and Tesla so far (every week there are others) have now rejected presidential hatred by resigning from several White House muckety-muck councils.
Evil comes in many forms, like serial killer Son of Sam, KKK lynch mobs and murderous gangsters and dictators. A lesser-known evil occured by ordinary citizens who saw Mormons persecuted and looked the other way; who saw Jews and Catholics rounded up by Nazis and thought it wasn't their concern; who do nothing when white nationals march in Charlottesville and mow down young people marching in protest for civility; by presidents who know hatred is wrong but hesitate to acknowledge it so as not to alienate their base; by all of us who fail to address grievances against humanity.
White nationalists in Charlottesville were caught on cell phone cameras and are subjects of public shaming on Twitter and Facebook, causing family humiliation and, in many cases, job loss. Go Daddy, Google and other web hosts are removing hate-filled white nationalist websites in the interest of public safety (not to mention common decency).
In 1919, the Supreme Court held that First Amendment freedom of speech does not give us the freedom to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater. Nor can we set fire to a church whose beliefs we disagree with or use other malicious acts of mayhem and terrorism to express ourselves. American right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh found that out. So will Charlottesville murderer James Alex Fields Jr.
Terror comes too often from hatred and ignorance. But the world wakes up. Now the internet and social media are helping to fight the righteous fight.
In Utah, Republicans and Democrats place American values above party politics and see this cowardly bullying crime as plain evil that, left unchecked, is poised to destroy all that we have sacrificed to protect. Last week there was a gathering of Republican and Democrat lawmakers on the State Capitol steps to speak out against racism and fascism. Beyond the noise, there is still a lot of decency in America. For that, we give thanks.
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