At the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, I passed by prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer, who beforehand said, “Effectively, any policy, idea, or belief that is markedly right-wing and traditional — that evokes identity, power, hierarchy, and dominance — must be regulated by the possibility that it could potentially lead back to the German Führer.”
I decided not to give this bigot my attention and, thankfully, he was soon kicked out of the venue and denounced by American Conservative Union executive director Dan Schneider.
Today, especially as the grandson of Holocaust survivors, who endured an era defined by the same Mein Kampf ideology that’s echoed by Spencer’s followers, I have no choice but to speak out in the aftermath of what repulsively transpired on Friday night and Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Just as we explicitly call Islamic terrorism for what it is, let’s explicitly call out the alt-right for who they are: neo-Nazis and white nationalists who don’t represent America. By their actions over the weekend, especially when a member of their group drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and leaving over a dozen others injured, they are the definition of terrorism.
In talking with Ziyad Azeez, a Muslim Trump supporter, he told me, “I wanted the President to call the insanity for what it is: white supremacist terrorism.”
“I am a traditional conservative, I’ll never hold back from those mainstream beliefs,” he added. “No person, Muslim or Jew, black or white, straight or gay, immigrant or not deserves mistreatment from anti-American people whose antecedents have done nothing but harm America in her past.”
I support free speech, which includes hateful speech, but threatening and practicing violence is not protected under the First Amendment.
Nonetheless, Henry Brousseau, who was assaulted by a white nationalist at a Trump campaign rally last year (who attended the Charlottesville rally and was scheduled to speak), told me that America should “make it so abundantly clear that [white nationalists and neo-Nazis] are not welcome in polite society.”
“No dog whistles, no pandering,” he added.
At the rally, these bigots chanted phrases like “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”
My message to these Nazi sympathizers: America, as a whole, has “replaced” your hatred. America in 2017 has “overcome” what it was during the pre-Civil Rights movement.
You don’t represent America. You don’t represent the country that took in my grandparents who survived Hitler, whose hateful ideology you spew. When carrying tiki torches and proclaiming to represent what this country stands for, you represent anything but; you don’t represent a “shining city on a hill.”
My only living grandmother was a hidden child during Hitler’s genocide. Would you dare tell her that she deserved to die along with the 6 million Jews killed, most of whom consisted of the 1.5 million children who perished, instead of coming to a land of opportunity to make a better life for my parents and extended family? I dare you to tell me and my fellow Jews we don’t deserve to live.
You want a war. Not just a race war, but a total war against this multicultural country and its creed of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But I’ve got news for you: you already lost. Nazism lost thanks to the U.S. and its allies. Hitler lost. And Jews, like myself and my living grandmother, are still here.
“Never again” means never again.