Some are advising people to not counter-protest when Nazis and white supremacists demonstrate or have a rally. Some are advising people to not pay attention to them or give them any more publicity. Let them shout into the “empty air,” as Tina Fey put it.
I understand the sentiment, I really do. If we were dealing with any other kind of loud-mouthed troublemakers, that is absolutely the right response.
But what about when Nazis start running for office? Do we speak up then or stay quiet so as not to give them undue attention?
What about when they start taking over local and state governments? Do we speak up then?
What about when they take over the national government?
It’ll be very easy to stay quiet then because the punishment for counter-protesting or speaking out will be jail… or worse. Make no mistake. Just as Hitler’s ultimate goals were quite evident years before he took over Germany, so the goals of the white supremacist movement are clear now: The elimination of non-white people from the United States “permanently.” If you’re listening, that’s what they’re saying, and I have no doubt they’re telling the truth about that.
When this kind of barbarism raises its ugly head, it can be truly said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We’re not even a hundred years away from the last example.
I do not advocate for counter-violence. Ultimately, that serves the goals of the white supremacist movement. They copy the tactics of Nazi thugs in the 20s and 30s who sought to provoke violence to justify brutal retaliation.
I do, however, advocate wholeheartedly showing up, speaking out, raising our voices. Do not be intimidated into either silence OR counter-violence.