As Published in The Commuter 5/24/2017

 

“Was grandpa a Nazi?” I asked in a state of panic.

Several bayonets bearing swastikas sat on the dinner table in my uncle’s house.

“No — These are his trophies,” my uncle explained.

I was six years old when my grandfather passed away. I knew he was a World War II veteran, as nearly everyone in my family was if they lived during World War II. My relatives were all over Europe, witnessing the horrific results of fascism.

I was taught that fascists were pitiful, violent, ignorant people who have no consideration for anyone outside of their group. I was taught that fascism can never be tolerated.

“Give them an inch, they’ll take a foot,” my father says.

I was taught that there was a difference between an opposing political opinion and someone who truly believes I am subhuman because I am not Aryan. I was taught that there is a difference between a conservative and someone who believes the attempted genocide of my indigenous ancestors was justified.

Freedom of speech and expression are part of my core values, which is precisely why I cannot tolerate fascism. There is something inherently dangerous about affording those rights, going out of our way to ensure those rights, as a society, to those who wish for nothing more than to destroy them.

Those on the right must refuse to align themselves with alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer. Those on the left must resist lumping conservatives like Ann Coulter, despite her virulent racism, which must be addressed, with fascists. Republicans and Democrats have a much larger enemy than each other. The only way to defeat fascism is to unite against it.

The liberals, in their idealistic pacifism, combined with the conservatives’ reluctant tolerance for sake of larger numbers and increased political clout creates a dangerous environment in which such an insidious ideal as fascism can flourish. One doesn’t need to open the door for fascism, only refuse to slam it shut.

At no time in history have fascists simply gotten tired and gone home. Fascists have never been embarrassed by snide remarks on Facebook and changed their ways. Fascist groups have only been stopped by confrontation.

Confrontation carries such a harsh tone in a society that seems increasingly concerned with everyone’s feelings, regardless of whether the concern is mutual. But the idea that fascists will begin feeling remorse for the social and physical violence they promulgate is quite literally lethal.

Of course, people do change their views and who they associate with, but it is ill-advised to rely on the conscience of select reformed fascists to shift the paradigm of thousands of violent bigots.

Confrontation doesn’t require violence to be described as such, but self-defense is a human right. I ask anyone reading this to consider how they would feel if their loved ones were literally being described as sub-human and a pest to be eradicated, because they are labeled as such, and some of us are painfully aware of this.

Hate speech, in it’s very essence, is the political embodiment of violence, and has little place in a healthy society. I am not advocating locking people up for espousing fascist beliefs, but 130,000 Americans alone died during WWII. The fascists are still our enemies and should be treated as such.

Anyone who is an American, anyone who identifies as a patriot, should see no greater adversary than that of someone who wishes to strip an entire civilization of any freedoms it may possess.

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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