Neo-Nazis: A Growing Threat

neo-Nazi book cover This is the cover of my book published more than twenty years ago. The book includes examples of violent attacks on Jews and the desecration of synagogues, businesses and homes owned by people of the Jewish faith. It also describes Adolf Hitler’s beliefs and the formation of a Nazi party in the 1920s; Hitler’s Gestapo in the 1930s rounded up German Jews, forced them into concentration camps and killed thousands in gas chambers, a genocide that will forever be known as the Holocaust.

Except for updating names, dates, etc., much of that earlier book applies today. Neo-Nazis in 2018 publicly proclaim their antisemitism and their hatred for Jews. Free-speech rights allow neo-Nazis to express their hate-filled views with placards, banners, booklets, slogans, signs, and other media. There is no explicit law to prevent hatred in print or speech against Jews. And there is no law to prevent at least five neo-Nazis from currently running as Congressional candidates.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) categorizes neo-Nazi organizations as hate groups and posts an annual U.S. map showing the location and names of hate groups nationwide—954 total in 2018. Neo-Nazis are often aligned with other hate groups such as the KKK, white supremacists, and white nationalists. The SPLC map also shows the number of hate groups by state. Consider Florida that has 66 such groups, among them Vanguard, a neo-Nazi organization. In the state of Washington dozens of neo-Nazis groups are collectively known as the Daily Stormer. Forty hate groups operate in Georgia, including the Daily Stormer, Vanguard, and Aryan Nations Worldwide. At public rallies, neo-Nazis often display their well-known symbol–the swastika (a cross with four arms of equal length bent at a right angle)—sewn or printed on shirts, jackets, and flags or tattooed on their bodies.

Yet for thousands of years the swastika was not a symbol of hatred. It represented peace, good luck, prosperity, hope, and was used as icons for religions—Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism as examples. It is still being used in Asia and elsewhere as a religious or spiritual symbol.

I remember when I was perhaps seven or eight years old, my mom, with her quilting friends, created a quilt with blue capital Ls shaped like a swastika but standing upright on a white background. It was considered a Christian symbol. But when mom saw or heard news of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi symbol, she folded her quilt, hid it away somewhere, and I never saw it again.

In the 1930s before World War II, Hitler created a Nazi flag that has a black hooked cross at a 45 degree angle on a white circle set against a red background. It was a hate-filled symbol then just as it is for neo-Nazis today. Neo-Nazis are not alone in their assaults against Jews. Their views are shared with white supremacist and others who are working to create a nation totally dominated by white people. They also try politically to deny the rights of LGBT individuals and people of color.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which develops programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, has reported numerous instances of anti-Semitic assaults. Here are just a few examples from 2015:

Denver, CO: A high school student wearing a kippah [or yarmulke] was approached by two other high school students who made statements including “Hey Jewboy, come over here,” and “Hey Jewboy, do my bills for me.” One of the assailants then shouted, “Hey you kike, when I talk to you, you talk back,” before throwing a large rock hitting the victim on his back. (July)

Boca Raton, FL: A rabbinical student was walking when an assailant on a bike shouted at him that “Jews should go back to Auschwitz. Hitler was right.” The student replied, “Why don’t you come back here and say that?” The cyclist rode back to the rabbinical student, repeated the remark and then began to strike the student, who hit his head on the pavement before the assailant fled. (November)

Brooklyn, NY: Two people were walking home from synagogue when four unknown perpetrators approached them and threw eggs at them. The perpetrators stated, “You f—— Jews, I’m going to kill you!” (November)

In 2018, neo-Nazis will be part of a Washington, D.C, rally known as “Unite the Right 2.” The rally on August 19 will celebrate the anniversary of the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which three people were killed (a young woman run over by a car and two policemen killed in a helicopter crash). The gathering will include neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists. Many opposition groups will also be attending. Hopefully, the participants will avoid violence. But there is no guarantee that in the future we will be free of neo-Nazis and the growing menace of anti-Semitism.

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