On May 1, 1977, a group of Nazis under the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA) organized a march in the village of Skokie, Illinois which had a population of approximately 77,000 residents, 40,000 of whom were Jews. Without delving into the details of this example, suffice to say that less than 30+ Years prior, the Nazis Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler executed six million Jews (6,000,000).
The march took place anyway after a fierce fight in the court. The city of Skokie opposed the march; so the NSPA took the matter to court. The court declared that as despicable as the idea of such march in a city filled with Jews whose family, friends, neighbors were killed by the Nazis was, freedom of speech could not be squashed just because a group (in that case the Jews) would be affected. That decision by the court was one of the best examples which established how important it is to safeguard freedom of expression.
Fast forward to 2017, there was Charlottesville.
The tragedies in Charlottesville should not have happened in the first place. However despicable the idea of the march was, freedom of speech by the White Nationalists (or any group for that matter) should be respected. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy. And democracy requires a great deal of compromise among citizens of a nation, although it’s easier said than done. I submit to you that if there was no anti-protest, the march by the White Nationalists would have been of very short duration, probably less than a couple of hours. It would have been a non-event. It would have gone mostly “unnoticed”.
As a black man, I always lament when Fox (Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends in particular) wages wars against protests by the Black Lives Matter groups. Most Republican leaning medias, Fox in particular, always fail to understand that freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy.
Here in America, it is everyone’s right to exercise the freedom of speech, however despicable the message is. So, the protests against the White Nationalists’ march were the least creative means to tackle this plague in the country. If the intent was to silence the White Nationalists, it was wrong; it would be chipping away at freedom of expression. That’s unacceptable!
Besides, the White Nationalists didn’t come out of the blue; they were always among us; They are your brothers, your sisters, your fathers, your mothers, your uncles, your aunts, your nieces, your nephews,
your grandparents and/or your neighbors. Before Trump, they were afraid to express publicly their disgusting beliefs but those beliefs were always everywhere in full display. You did nothing; you ignored it; you turned a blind eye.
- those beliefs are regularly manifested in the way police officers treat minorities on the streets but society condones the police’s behavior
- those beliefs are manifested every day in the way the Judges in the Courts rule against minorities and society shrugs it off or shows indifference
- those beliefs are manifested in the Blacks being passed a promotion but society sees nothing wrong with that
- those beliefs are manifested in the Black applicants being refused a job not for lack of qualification and society condones the behavior
- those beliefs are manifested every day when a Black person enters a store to shop and is followed everywhere but society doesn’t see a problem with that
- those beliefs are manifested in the way doctors treat black patients in the hospital
- those beliefs are manifested in blacks being charged higher interest rates when purchasing a car or buying a house even with good credit score and society can’t care less
- those beliefs are manifested every single day in the way teachers treat black students in the classroom; teachers curse, demean and give them less attention and punish them more often but society turns its head away
The problem is not the march by the White Nationalists; it’s the society that is created to help them thrive.
- Society has made it okay for police to brutalize, antagonize, harass and kills Blacks on the streets without any repercussion (98% of police officers who commit murder on the streets walk away free of charge)
- Society has made it okay for the Justice System to treat Blacks differently (a petty theft criminal gets harsher punishment than the Wall Street guy who has emptied your retirement account)
- Society has made it okay for an employer to bypass a job or a promotion to an individual because s/he is black (blacks’ unemployment rate has always been 4 to 15 percent higher than the national rate; current rate is 4.4; blacks: 7.4 as of July 2017)
- Society has made it possible for banks to charge higher interest rates to Blacks.
To confront the White Nationalists on the streets was the worst recipe for a solution. John F Kennedy said “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” So, let’s not wait for another “Charlottesville”; let’s begin the process of eradicating the plagues (racism, sexism, bigotry) which have destroyed the country for so long.Follow @mducheiney
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