America's Thinly Veiled Disgrace

April 6, 2010
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In 1977 the National Socialist Party of America (a neo-nazi group) attempted to march on Skokie, Illinois. Skokie is a small village near Chicago populated largely by holocaust survivors. When the villagers attempted to file an injunction against the neo-nazis, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) became involved, and the case was brought to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in favor of the neo-nazis as part of their First Amendment rights. Only through widespread outrage and media publications did the National Socialist Party hold rallies in three other locations, deciding that a march in Skokie at that point would be pointless. Now, is this the “freedom” we want? We, as citizens of the United States not only have 1st Amendment rights to free speech, but we also have 14th Amendment rights to equal protection. Simply because these people are not using guns and grenades to assault the minorities of this country does not mean that they are not terrorists. Neo-Nazi groups give a bad name to the United States, which is one of few developed countries that would allow such a demonstration. The truth is that public displays of hate towards particular races and ethnicities should be outlawed in the United States.



Though as citizens we are have a right to free speech, we also have a right to live without intimidation from those stronger than us. While people can say whatever they please at home, once one steps outside into the public domain, this is where each person’s rights coincide with everyone else’s. Also, The way in which the government condones public nonviolent displays of hate toward minorities, even if it also discourages such behavior emboldens such groups to commit acts of blatant terrorism when people ignore them, which is what is suggested that we do instead of trying to stop them. They will be heard, and if not, they will be felt in other, possibly more disastrous ways.



Some say that hate crime legislation criminalizes thought because it extends the prison tenure of a person because of a certain belief in mind when the suspect committed a hate crime, but when a crime is linked to supremacist ideology, the perpetrator often passes the same beliefs and mindset to his or her children, and the best way to stop this is to demonstrate that perpetration of such crimes leads only to a heavier sentencing.

On November 13, 1988, in Portland, Oregon, three skinheads attacked and beat to death Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant and father who had come to America to attend a university. The leader of the White Aryan Resistance (an anti-government white supremacist organization), Tom Metzger, was fined $12.5 million in a civil suit charged by the family for indoctrinating the three skinheads, but in the end they received little due to the fact that Metzger had little money to begin with. In a liberal city like Portland, the doctrine of supremacy is equally strong in the minds of some as anywhere else.



Although it is true that actual race-related murders are rare, the fact that the American government allows its minorities to be shouted and spat at by supremacists is humiliating. Americans love to claim that their country is the freest, and fairest country in the world, yet, for example, in Germany it is illegal now to express Nazi beliefs. This spares Jews possible further humiliation other than that in the past perpetrated by the Nazis. Why doesn’t such a law exist in America, where the descendants of slave owners may hold demonstrations to harass and publicly humiliate the descendants of slaves?



It is true that as of late, such violent demonstrations of racial hate have largely faded from what can be seen, but racism is very much alive. In this day and age, racism is systematic and insidious, but in the end, racism is natural. There will always be people in a society who will believe that due to the color of his or her skin, regardless of what that color is, it makes him or her better than anyone of any different skin color, which, of course is completely illogical, but some people are raised believing such a thing. Otherwise, racism is more in the fabric of our society more often than glaring us, the public, in the face in the form of hate groups,. The one thing that can be done to limit if not eliminate racism is to force people with such ideologies to keep them to themselves



Though racism is natural, and will always exist, people also have a right not to be exposed to such ugliness. The 14th Amendment states that under the law each citizen is to have equal protection, and so we should not have to be subject to verbal abuse and humiliation. The condoning of such behavior by neo-nazi groups emboldens them, and when they are ignored, as citizens are encouraged to do, they do drastic things to draw media attention. The neo-nazi movement in America is one stain of many on America’s claim of an egalitarian society, but if we wish to change for the better, outlawing such public displays of hate is a great place to start.





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