The crossword puzzle clue was “Led.” The answer was 11 letters. Nothing popped into my head, but, as I worked over that corner, the word began to take shape. Finally, with about half the letters showing, I smiled and finished off “Spearheaded.” The smile was for my dad, whom we lost last December. A proud and crowning episode of his life was his World War II service in the Third Armored Division. They were called the Spearhead as they raced through Northern France to cross the German border. Among their accomplishments, they liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp. Their division suffered 9,243 casualties, 1,810 fatalities (including one commanding general) and earned more than 10,500 Purple Hearts (my dad’s among them) as they drove the Germans out of France. And, their sacrifices represent just one division among many other brave soldiers fighting nazi brutality.
The crossword puzzle experience was happier than one the day before when my Nebraska news surfing uncovered a story first reported by Omaha’s WOWT TV: “A giant swastika was burned into the lawn at Memorial Park, just a week after Nazi books were displayed in little libraries across the city…. “The nazi regime symbol was burned in the Memorial Park lawn, a place that honors American soldiers who fought against nazi Germany in World War II.”
Yes, in the American Heartland, American nazis – whose mere existence speaks to the failure of our educational, religious and moral systems – dishonor their heroic forbearers who defeated Hitler’s henchmen.
We must presume the Omaha nazis are “very fine people” like the klanazi contingent that brought death to Charlottesville, VA, last year. This year’s racist rally in D.C. fizzled. Maybe 40 haters were confronted by a few thousand people standing up for All-American inclusion.
Last spring, anticipating the 50th anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., Luke Visconti, CEO of Diversity Inc., wrote: “Fifty years after Martin Luther King was killed, our society is still white supremacist, and President Trump is evidence of massive societal failure. “I don’t care who you voted for; we white people made it and continue to make it comfortable for bigots to be public bigots, for ignorant people to be public ignoramuses and for white ‘leaders’ to shuck and jive their way around inequality, inequities and overt bigotry in the organizations they lead.”
Visconti adds, “White people elected Donald Trump.” “White people elected him because he speaks directly to ignorant people’s id. ‘It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of everybody else but you.’ “Nah, it’s your fault,” he concludes.
Scapegoating is the foundation of racists, from Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. Having a president of our United States encourage klansmen and nazis and rail against all non-whites at every opportunity insults (and assaults) everything our Greatest Generation fought to preserve. Make no mistake about it; no excuses allowed: if you support a racist, you are supporting racism.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)