Editorial: Neo-Nazi rally at N.J. Statehouse is a disgusting display of hate
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011
The prospect of jackbooted marchers, swathed in swastikas and spouting racist propaganda, is an unsettling one. An embodiment of Hitler and all his hate, they thrust their fringe beliefs, rudely and crudely, in the face of decent people.
When these skin-headed thugs have shown up uninvited but with plenty of notice in other corners of the country, it’s been rather easy to view the issue as a classic example of the American right to free speech. Their message is odious, but they are free to express it.
Then comes word that members of the Nationalist Socialist Movement plan to rally in front of the Statehouse in Trenton tomorrow. A group leader says they will protest high taxes, illegal immigration and crime. Given their history, the much more likely reason they are coming to the capital of New Jersey is to provoke. With inflammatory rhetoric, and incendiary symbol and their very presence, they intend to provoke.
Whether they choose Skokie, Illinois, or our own back yard for their antagonistic display, the conclusion remains: Their message is odious, but they are free to express it.
The message is indeed odious. Outlining the NSM rally to Times writer Alex Zdan, chief of staff Jason Hiecke mildly described himself as a “patriot of the United States with European heritage.” Yet a cursory glance at the group’s website reveals videos with burning crosses, salutes to Hitler and even children outfitted in Ku Klux Klan robes.
• Trenton New Black Panther Party denounces neo-Nazi rally set for N.J. Statehouse
• Neo-Nazi rally at N.J. Statehouse has groups preparing counter-protests, State Police on alert
• Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement plans rally at N.J. Statehouse, two-day conference
• Jewish organization attempts to stop neo-Nazi group's rally at N.J. Statehouse
How do we react to the provocation?
The director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Teaneck offices recommends avoiding the rally. "As despicable as these neo-Nazis are, it's best to stay clear of them, especially on a day of protest," Etzion Neuer says. "Law enforcement will have its hand full maintaining the distance between the Nazis and the anti-racism activists, and I suggest people find more productive things to do with their time."
Meanwhile, the Jewish Defense Organization is doing its best to make sure the NSM members know they are unwelcome. The self-described militant anti-hate group is trying to get hotels to refuse accommodations to the NSM members and similar groups.
It’s worth noting that almost 50 years ago on April 16, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after his arrest for leading a march for civil rights. In it, he makes the case for “the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.”
He also references Nazi Germany: “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal."
As members of the Nationalist Socialist Party tramp into Trenton to agitate for the revival of those sorts of laws “defending the rights of whites” and the “purity” of American, we should answer with the nonviolent direct action Dr. King advocated. Carry signs and shout them down, but avoid the confrontations that this movement thrives upon to get attention.
At previous rallies and demonstrations, party leader Jeff Schoep has ended his speeches with the rallying cry “Where NSM goes, NSM grows.”
Not in Mercer County, Mr. Schoep. Not here.