Neo-Nazi hate hits close to home
T was ridiculous when U.S. President Donald Trump suggested it, and it makes no more sense coming from a self-described proponent of “white power.”
Simply put, those who profess racist or neo-Nazi beliefs, and others who sympathize with those attitudes, are not “good people.”
It doesn’t matter if they believe they are, or if they try to soften their image by adopting sidelong descriptions such as “alt-right,” or conceal their outpourings of hate behind a perverted defence of free-speech rights. A person who declares hatred for others based on race, religion or sexual orientation is, by definition, a bad person.
In the wake of the deadly violence that enveloped the white-power demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. (and the U.S. president’s subsequent unwillingness to unequivocally condemn the neo-Nazi agitators), some Manitobans might have been inclined to feel sorry for our American neighbours while believing these sorts of hategroup outbursts don’t happen here.
Until, that is, we were shown in no uncertain terms that they do. A pair of ugly local incidents involving self-proclaimed “Nazis” have provided a stark reminder that this particular brand of
Ihate and ignorance is festering in the cities and towns of Manitoba, too. The first report involved the verbal assault of a Muslim teacher from Calgary who, while travelling near Seven Sisters Falls last month, asked a man for directions and was the target of racist insults and demands to “take your head towel off in this country.”
The man described himself as “a Nazi.”
In the second instance, residents of Point Douglas recounted unprovoked racist threats directed toward them by a man whose home is adorned with a Confederate flag and Nazi symbols. Members of an Eritrean family have reportedly been subjected to N-word taunts and, on one occasion, had to jump out of the way when the man drove his pickup truck at them as they walked down the sidewalk.
During a brief encounter with a local media outlet, the man described himself as someone who’s been “good lately” and is trying to be a better person.
“I don’t go out there and promote hate,” he said. “I just live my life and I work, pay my bills. Yes, I’ve said racist things, but I’m not forcing my beliefs on anybody.”
It requires a special brand of abject stupidity to think forcing someone to jump out of the path of your moving truck doesn’t amount to imposing your beliefs on them, but then again, ignorant denial is a curious thing.
These incidents are a useful reminder that racist hatred is not a Republican issue, or an American problem. It’s a lamentably entrenched aspect of the human condition, and it’s up to the rest of us to speak out against such ignorance and stand up to the people who embody it. Canada strives to be an accepting and tolerant nation, and it’s those who feel the need to tell other Canadians to “go back to (their) own country” who don’t belong.
Thankfully, other voices are being heard. At Seven Sisters, passersby intervened in the tourist’s defence; in Point Douglas, local residents and activists have banded together to condemn the self-styled Nazi’s idiocy. Hateful plans for a
Sept. 9 “anti-immigration” rally in Winnipeg have been countered by the Winnipeg Diversity Rally Against Hate on the same day.
We must speak out. It’s the job of all of us to remind purveyors of hate that the “freedom of speech” they hide behind does not mean freedom from consequences.
A Charlottesville marcher with a Confederate flag.