I shouldn't have to write this.
It's 2017, and I'm going to say the following words without a hint of irony or fiction: We have to stand up to Nazis.
Before we begin, I want everyone to understand a few things about the world. One of my favorite teachers was a professor at Boston University. He taught The History of Warfare, and it was brutal. There was no passion or reverence for the taking of life, or for the majesty of the battlefield. He taught me that war was a cruel and unforgiving hell long before I ever donned a uniform. But what stuck with me the most through the years was this:
In the world of politics, silence is consent.
This was true when nations around the world watched Nazi Germany rise into power and begin the orchestrated slaughter of the Jewish people. This was true when nation after nation put people into bondage for the color of their skin, without a thought that enslaving another human being was an act as evil as anything on this planet. And this is true today, as Nazis march unhindered through the streets of Charlottesville.
This past weekend (12-13 August, 2017) saw a "Unite the Right" rally evolve into a full-on Nazi march through the streets of an American city. Heavily armed protesters, almost uniformly white males, shouted slogans of "Jew will not replace us" and other colorful slurs. They marched with sticks and pipes and riot shields, urging each other into a frenzy. When counter-protests inevitably started, the violence was almost expected.
These racist thugs beat people in the street, in broad daylight. The police were either unable or unwilling to intervene (the Mayor later said that the State Police felt "outgunned" by the impromptu militia). In a final, horrific act of terrorism, a 20-year-old Alt-Right sonofabitch plowed a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.
Saturday and Sunday, I saw the Nazi flag flying in an American city. I saw Nazi salutes and heard their hateful slurs and chants. This past weekend, I saw the most shameful display of arrogance and hatred that this country has witnessed in an embarrassingly short amount of time.
And I refuse to be silent.
Look, taking a stand against Nazis is a pretty easy mark. They are a pretty safe go-to for villains in the modern world. If you take any two characteristics of a Nazi, you get a fairly strong antagonist for your story. That should be a low bar for anyone to cross. If you want to know whether or not you're on the right side of history, where are you aligned in the case of Nazis? Against? Then you're good to go.
But, when Sunday came, so did a deafening silence. Now look, I'm not the most popular person on the planet. My Facebook friends list is a little heavy on "acquaintances" over tangible partners in crime. But the posts on my feed have been fairly standard when it comes to the goings on of the world.
Did the Right do something people don't like? I've got friends who'll post about that. Did the Left say something stupid? I've got friends who'll post about that. Something happens on a TV show? Yup. Terrorist attack in Israel? Yup.
And yet, when Nazis march through the streets of an American city, beating and murdering, my feed is suddenly silent. Honestly, I have never been so frustrated in my life.
This isn't politics as usual. This is the easiest test in the world. The "reverse Godwin's Law" as John Oliver puts it. There's a line drawn through history with the Nazis on one side and the rest of civilization on the other. This isn't the time to hem and haw about how "both sides" have violent tendencies. It's time to decide if we want this whole humanity thing to keep going forward.
Look, I'm a writer. I'm not a cop. I can't force you to be or do anything. All I can say it what I will do and hope that inspires something. I refuse to be silent. I am calling on everyone who reads this blog, on everyone who believes in common decency and humanity, to call out this egregious bullshit.
You do not get to call yourself an American and a Nazi at the same time. We fought a war over this shit. In the childish words of pundits: You lost. Get over it.
Don't be silent in the face of hatred. This is the easiest battle to win, people. This isn't solving the Middle East, or building renewable energy, or fighting obesity. This is Nazis versus everyone else. Pick a side.
Refuse to be silent. Shout it through social media, on any platform you can. We aren't just #sad about the murder of Heather Heyer by a Nazi piece of garbage. We are furious. America has bled and a fascist punk wielded the blade. It's time to excise this tumor from our society, and it starts by showing up.
Refuse to be silent. Write your leadership in Congress and the Senate. Call them. Demand action be taken. Demand that our country not accept the existence of this disease in our midst.
And here's the hardest part: We have to do all that without descending into violence ourselves.
Yeah, that's the big kick in the junk. We are not barbarians. We are not monsters. We cannot simply remove the problem. This is a case of ignorance and education failing the entire world. It will not be solved in a generation, but through the education of the next. You are not born a Nazi, you become one. We need to ensure that never happens again.
We need to demand better from the next generation of parents. We need to stand up to hatred in our families. We need to shine a light on the darkest parts of our society and actually make a change.
We need to be better people. We need to stop trolling each other and blasting each other on Facebook and Twitter and SnapChat. We need to engage in actual discourse. We need to be willing to listen.
But most of all, in the face of hatred and arrogance and FUCKING NAZIS...
We must REFUSE TO BE SILENT.