Nazis are bad.
Am I afraid of Nazis marching down my street? Not really.
I fear China taking over one day, but that's about it. I don't hate the Chinese though, I believe the Chinese, like most people, yearn for freedom.
Full disclosure, though, I am white.
Where am I going with this line thoughts today, you ask? A couple of blocks aways from my Grandfather's home in the quiet hamlet of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, the local website Cleveland.com has sounded the Alarm that the Nazis are coming to Cleveland. The problems with this particular case is a microcosm of the problems in America.
On June 27, 2018 Cleveland.com reported that a local Interracial family had been harassed for 7 years with the apex coming last month with various hateful language and hateful symbols spray painted onto their home. My initial response was apprehension. What is going on in a neighborhood that I know so well.
Then I saw this picture from the scene of the crime....
If you look at the graffiti, the swastika is backwards. Who cares, you say? Well there's a big difference in the way a swastika is used. If you do a little research, you'll find there's a difference in the meaning of the two. The one on the left is the Buddhist swastika.
The above graphic explains that you're not dealing with hardcore Nazis. You're either dealing with dumb criminals or someone trying to frame Nazis.
Editor's Note: How do we know about backwards swastikas? See the curious case of Morton Downey Jr. below.
As I focused on the garage door picture, my social media feed lit up. There were questions about the family's finances, court cases, and harassment charges. Not harassment charges at the family, but harassment charges from the Father. People tagging court cases and websites where you could see that there were people claiming they were not innocent victims. The hashtag #insidejob started popping up everywhere across social media. It is obvious that the family are the victims of harassment, there are too many police reports throughout the years. For a story that started 7 years ago, there's been a lot of smoke around a smoldering fire.
If you return to the Cleveland.com article, you'll see that there's kids involved in the situation at the domacile. So no matter what happened in the past, its got to be scary for the kids because there is real damage and real threats. But then more questions come up: Why didn't the cops do more? And then you read that the Father doesn't trust the cops and won't cooperate. (At one of the #insidejob posts, the Father wanted more security from Police, then complained to Police when they increased their patrol presence.) The family lived next door to the 37 year incumbent mayor for 3 of the past 7 years that they were being harassed. What does the mayor have to say? Shouldn't be that hard to send a reporter to Middleburg Heights City Hall. That didn't happen. Insurance should cover the costs of the damage. What, they don't have insurance, but a suspicious Go Fund Me page? And there's the instance of the non-working cameras. Somehow, despite Americans having cameras on every phone, everywhere, and the family having a security system, there's no sort of video of what's going on?
So there's obviously more to the story, but let's back away for a moment from the story itself and focus on the reaction to the situation. Cleveland.com is advancing the theory that the couple is being harassed due to their race(s), it says so right in the headline. Once you read the whole story, you realize it's probably not that simple. The problem is that cleveland.com has already introduced the narrative of White Supremacists in Middleburg Heights. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. As people reacted to the original story, so many people brought up facts not brought up in the cleveland.com article, Getting to the "Truth" involves actual work and resources. I don't know the truth, but so far I've come to either one of 2 conclusions, neither one of them good.
Cleveland.com doesn't have enough money to do real investigative reporting. Newsrooms across the country are cutting costs, cutting costs, and cutting costs some more. I would actually cut the reporter some slack here. His editor probably said "take the photographer and get the story about this house in Middleburg Heights." He got one side of the story, on the record, checked out public records, and then did the best job he could with the information he had. Instead of sending a team of reporters to get to the bottom of things, they half-assed it, trolling for clicks. There was definitely a crime committed in Middleburg Heights, the question is, was it the Nazis? The harassment was the lead story on the website June 28, 2018 based on the garage door picture. If you want to slam me for questioning certain aspects of the story, let me turn the question back to you. Why isn't cleveland.com scouring the southwestern suburbs for the White Supremacist Sleeper Cell in question?
Cleveland.com wants stories that generate reaction. Instead of being the Website of Record for Cleveland, Ohio, they are trying to improve their Alexa Rating by driving traffic. Race relations in America is a hot topic. We don't want the long version of the story, we just want a narrative. I have a feeling the whole story will eventually come out....
Now I have read article after article that Donald Trump is a Nazi. Just today, over at The Daily Beast, the website declared Trump is Already Mussolini. The problem is that Trump is not a Nazi. He is a Narcissist.
What's so bad about calling Trump a Nazi? When the real Nazis come, the word loses its meaning. Once in a while, I heard Bush Jr. called a Nazi. That was laughable. Is Trump worse than Bush? Oh yeah. but in a more bombastic and less substantive way. For those who claim that Trump isn't a Conservative, those people are mostly right. Trump is a right-leaning populist.
When Donald Trump wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror, he cares about 1 person and 1 person only, Donald Trump. Whatever works for Trump is policy. If it's good for America, great. If not, oh well. As a businessman, he is interested in business policies that help...guess who? Trump is running the country like a business and policies that benefit the CEO (himself). There is no grand scheme except to make sure the stock market keeps humming along.
When the national media calls Trump a Nazi, they are taking a national level narrative and trying to drive traffic. If you agree, you click on the story to reinforce your beliefs. If you disagree, you read the story and want to respond. (Except your favorite sites have taken down the Comments section. They don't want you to disagree where they have to pay a moderator when they call Trump a Nazi, they just want your anger and that precious clicking sound.)
If you're on the left, you're countering "what about the immigrants at the border? Trump is a Nazi because of the border." Very long story short, what protections do illegal immigrants have under the constitution?
"Well, what about all of the people in jail, nearly 1% of the population? Trump is a Nazi because of all the people he put in jail." I don't think that Trump is better or worse than other recent presidents when it comes to actually putting people in prison.
If you look up the statistics, prison population boomed in the 1990's and then kind of plateaued in the 00's, with a peak around 2007. There are no concentration camps for citizens. If you look at the above chart from 2017, you can see why people are in prison. If you look at the numbers, they are actually very similar to the numbers under Barack Obama. If you want to debate the Drug War, we can debate that, but Donald Trump is not the head of the snake on that topic. (You need to go back a generation or two.)
"Well I saw Nazis in the streets marching to protect Confederate Statues. Trump is a Nazi because he didn't stop those other Nazis." Let me be very clear and concise here, because we are getting into some really dicey territory here. I believe that Trump's Presidency has emboldened certain elements on the right, just like Obama's Presidency emboldened certain elements on the left. During the Ferguson Riots, I clearly remember those on the right losing their minds that Obama was an Anarchist. He wanted to tear down law and order. Of course Obama wasn't an Anarchist, but his enemies tried to slap that label on him.
As I hammer on the left, let's be reminded that they're not the only ones that make mistakes with labeling. The Rush Limbaughs of the world want to convince you that the Nazis, Communists, Anarchists and Socialists are all on the Left. Limbaugh himself constantly reminds his listeners that the Nazis are on the far, far left (?). They are National SOCIALISTS. The right is simply God-fearing Americans. (Which is straight up BULLSH!T). The point is, anyone can try to paint their enemies with a broad brush.
Slapping labels on your enemies is at a near fever pitch in today's political climate. The Tawdry and Dumb Nazi Charge at Politico is an excellent read. You fight real Nazis. You prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Everyone right of Nelson Rockfeller is not a Nazi.
Nazis believe in killing people.
Trump believes in firing people.
...As I said at the beginning, Nazis are bad. Before we go though, let's return to the local example briefly. The swastika (however poorly executed) is used as a symbol of fear, just like throwing the label of Nazi around is meant to serve the same purpose. Generating fear is now part of the landscape in American Culture from the lowest community levels to the President.
Added July 2, 2018: Or, instead of reading my long-winded article, you could read this meme from the Punk Rock Libertarian site.
Updated Aug. 6, 2018: See this Link: Berry Parents Arrested