When times get tough, people start losing faith in the system. That’s a good thing. They start turning toward alternatives that offer radically different economies, opportunities and ways of thinking. That’s also a good thing. Different types of societies, based on different ideologies, seem to offer real hope and ideas such as socialism and anarchism become intriguing. Still a good thing.
However, in this same window of opportunity, the opposite is also true. The desperate, the educated, and those rejected by society also get pulled toward political extremes. But they tend to favor not the intellectual reasoning of Marx, Bakunin and Proudhon, but rather those dark ideologies that appeal only to humanity’s basest and most tribal instincts. Ideologies that seek not transcendence of racial, religious, linguistic and geographic barriers, but those that simplify the world’s problems and embody them in the unknown, the dark-skinned, what psychologists call “the Other.” That’s a bad thing.
This beast raised its head recently in Riverside. In a community minting its identity as the “City of Arts & Innovation,” a neo-Nazi rally is cause for concern.
That’s right, Nazis. Genuine, verifiable, swastika-wearing, goose-stepping, Jew-hating Nazis, or to be more precise, the “National Socialist Movement” (which has set up an IE chapter with a Riverside P.O. Box). Fresh on the heels of the organization’s national conference in North Carolina, scheduled to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Greensboro massacre in which five civil rights workers were assassinated by members of the Ku Klux Klan, the NSM has pledged to up their organization’s profile nationwide. Billing themselves as the “largest White civil rights organization,” they have set their targets: In Michigan, an educational workshop on “white privilege.” In Iowa, gays. And in Southern California, day laborers; the mostly-undocumented population that seeks work outside of hardware stores.
But the hate-mongering did not go unanswered.
An e-mail from the organizers of the “official” anti-hate rally, which was held at Riverside City Hall and attracted a diverse group of between 150 and 200 people, proclaimed, “We realize that there is a diversity of opinion when it comes to the topic of immigration, and we respect different viewpoints and value dialogue. However, we will NOT allow the Nazis to scapegoat our immigrant brothers and sisters, regardless of whether or not they have papers, in an attempt to appeal to the poor, unemployed, and uneducated as they seek to build their nation of ‘Only those of pure White blood.” Such was the spirit of the City Hall rally.
But among the 100-plus counter-protesters that showed up at the corner of Madison Street and Indiana Avenue Sept. 26, where day laborers from the Casa Blanca barrio look for work outside the Home Depot, a different attitude prevailed. Shortly after the neo-Nazis arrived—a bunch that appeared to consist of six high school dropouts led by two fortysomething manipulators, one of whom had come all the way from San Francisco—they were surrounded by a large and boisterous contingent of activists determined to deny them the platform they might otherwise use to spread their message of hate. They had received and heeded legal advice not to deny the Nazis their freedom of speech. Rather, they decided to exercise their own right to free expression—only much louder. Not feeling the welcome they hoped for, the small NSM contingent received a police escort to their cars after just about 45 minutes of their demonstration.
Humiliated, with their flags ripped to shreds and under the protection of agents of the very “Zionist Occupational Government” they claim to oppose, they fled in a couple of Japanese-made cars. They’ve since issued a number of press releases in an attempt to save face and to spin the popular sentiment against them as Jewish manipulation of the “brown horde,” casually neglecting to mention that most that opposed them were actually White.
They’ve also attempted to paint the day’s events as a violation of their rights to free speech. But it is very difficult to take this claim seriously from a group that, if it ever rose to power would summarily revoke that same right from groups it considers “sub-human.” How can they stand up for a principle they don’t actually hold? (photo by Naui Ocelotl Huitzilopochtli)