I keep reminding myself that there’s nothing new about Nazis, even American ones.
After all, I was only 9 back in 1966 when Playboy published Alex Haley’s interview with George Lincoln Rockwell. (“I’ve got nothing against you,” Rockwell told him, “I just think you people would be happier back in Africa where you came from.”) There’s part of me that says you just ignore them. They crave attention, and we’re just giving them legitimacy when we argue with them.
But they got me this week. I saw the video of Richard Spencer’s speech to the members of the blandly named National Policy Institute in Washington, and I couldn’t look away. Probably there weren’t more than a couple hundred of them, but they were standing up and giving the traditional Nazi salute in response to a speech that ended “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” As if they had won the election themselves.
Just ignore them, I think.
But then I remember that my parents’ generation, the one that fought the original Nazis for control of Europe, is dying off. For decades, Nazis have been little more than cartoon villains. Slapping a swastika on a character has been a quick way for scriptwriters to say “This guy’s evil.”
What must it be like to be a young white man and wander into a Nazi meeting the way he might go to a black mass or some other campy invocation of everything he’s been warned against? “Such nice folks,” he might think afterward. “They’re not at all like the guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They just want to stand up for our race the way the black activists stand up for theirs.”
So this week I’m not ignoring them. The featured article takes their challenge seriously, asking “Should I Have White Pride?” That should be out by 10 EST.
The weekly summary continues looking at the emerging Trump cabinet. I also discuss the ways the media is still unprepared to deal with a president like Trump, as evidenced by his discussion with staff at The New York Times Tuesday; the attacks on the pipeline protesters in South Dakota; my lack of excitement about the recount in Wisconsin and possibly elsewhere; the death of Castro; fake news; and some other things, before closing with an awe-inspiring bird video. I’m aiming to have that done by noon.