Saturday’s face-off between white supremacists and counter-protesters at the state Capitol was just a war of words – thankfully. In other times and places their difference of opinion might have led to cross-burnings, even lynchings. The National Socialist Movement and the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which staged the rally in Frankfort under protection of police in riot gear, are diehard reactionaries venting their rage, a tiny remnant from the days when the original Nazis aspired to world conquest and the KKK enforced mob justice across the South. We should let them indulge in verbal catharsis whenever they choose so long as the exercise remains nonviolent.
The neo-Nazis look around themselves and see an America far different from what they remember, and they’re right, it is different, partly because our fathers and grandfathers fought and died to end Nazi tyranny in the 20th century. Now the NSM and KKK scapegoat racial minorities and people of homosexual orientation as the forces behind America’s socioeconomic malaise. The neo-Nazis don’t just want to put minorities in the place they occupied before this nation made a decision to become more tolerant six decades ago, they actually want everyone of non-European extraction to go “home,” wherever that might be.
It’s an impossible demand, of course. Even if it were feasible to verify the genetic correctness of everyone in this nation, deporting “outsiders,” some of whom have been here since colonial times, would entail a displacement of humanity more massive than the world has ever known. Remember, Adolf Hitler, with his concentration camps and gas chambers, failed to exterminate a single ethnic class.
American culture is known for blurring the distinctions between people of disparate origins and predispositions, and the ferment is bubbling more vigorously than ever. “I have two black grandchildren, I have gay children,” one woman told State Journal reporter Kayleigh Zyskowski while watching the NSM and the KKK make their case at Saturday’s event. “I think rights are for everybody,” including bigots, she said.
Her observation underlines a reality that many of us have had to face. Miscegenation, the deepest taboo for early opponents of racial integration, is routine business nowadays. So is the openly gay lifestyle that came out of the closet in the wake of the sexual revolution. Today’s families, for the most part, do not disown multiracial or homosexual offspring, no matter what they may have been taught by previous generations. They certainly are not going to sacrifice kinfolk to accommodate an ideology espoused by radicals marching around in Nazi uniforms and KKK hoods and gowns who are unable or unwilling to recognize their cause is lost.
Jeff Schoep, a “unit leader” of the NSM, stood defiant as he addressed followers and spectators at the Capitol Saturday. “You people that stand against us and what we stand for, you are the traitors, you are the scum and degenerates that want to bring this country down,” he declared.
A century ago, that message might have won a fair amount of consensus in Frankfort. But most of us now are to some degree part of the societal change the neo-Nazis deplore. We won’t go back.