Much attention has been given to the recent White Nationalist/Neo-Nazi rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville. Fewer people realize that a microcosm of this event occurred right here in our small corner of Arlington. On Friday, Aug. 25, five men and one woman gathered in the parking lot of an Arlington Strip Mall (the site where a former Nazi leader was killed in 1967) to salute a Nazi flag. No counter-protesters were there to stand against them, but hours later, after hearing of the earlier event, dozens of local residents were prompted to show up on the same spot to express opposition to the hateful, violent beliefs of the Nazi sympathizers.
The leader of the group New Order which staged the salute said they embraced the growing polarization in our county as a sign that their movement was gaining ground in America. The point of the
demonstration in his words was to test the true willingness of our "liberal" community to accept diversity of viewpoints.
So let's be clear. Embracing diversity of viewpoints does not mean staying quiet in the face of a Nazi premise of Aryan superiority as a master race. Or remaining mute to a history of mass Jewish extermination and other Nazi atrocities. This group stood in salute of a philosophy put into action that brought on a world war where many of our American veterans fought and died. Nazism isn't a "diverse point of view" — it is a parade of horribles too terrible to commit to words. Thankfully, we are seeing that wherever this ugly "polarization" raises its Trumpian head — Charlottesville, San Francisco, and in our own community of Arlington, there are people ready to oppose an aspirational racial hierarchy that has already cost millions of lives. If we don't make it clear that we will stand against hate, bigotry, racism and Nazism, then we will have to question whether we are capable of repeating Germany's history and losing our humanity as a people and a country.