Monday, October 17, 2005

Toledo Burning

By now, we've seen the aftermath of the neo-Nazi/anarchist riot that took place in Toledo, Ohio. To put it in a thumbnail, think "day camp version of Rodney King riots".

It's never a good thing when a wholly unredeemable hate group that started and lost the world's most costly war, attempted to exterminate an entire ethnic group, and set the stage for a half-century of global tensions that largely continue today, decides to march in an American town. But on the other hand, it's good to know who these people are and what they believe, rather than allowing their socially carcinogenic beliefs about race and religion to reside subtly within our midst, unchecked because they only whisper evil.

And it is encouraging when citizens come out to make very clear that such sentiments are unwelcome in American communities. Racism and anti-Semitism are the enemies of peace and the foundational principles of American life.

But when people who claim to oppose the Neo-Nazis (and really, we can spare ourselves the "neo" designation) exact the kind of violence in what they claimed was a counter-protest, by destroying ambulances, attacking police who are trying to keep the peace, and destroying the property of their neighbors and local businesses, how does that make them any different than the Nazis they claim to oppose?

The understanding of the events of Toledo on Saturday appears to be that some of the counter protest was agitated by anarchists--the same folk who foment riots at every WTO meeting, who are anti-everything, and oppose civil society in every form. But agitation does not excuse action. The rioters made a conscious decision to do things far worse than the Nazis ever thought of doing that day.

And it makes me wonder just how justified these people thought they were in their anger, and at whom their anger was directed. Was it their neighbors whose doors they kicked in? Was it the people whose homes and businesses they burned? Was it the ambulance crew and police officers who tried to keep the peace and help the injured?

And I wonder why that band of brigands did not just go back to their own homes and set them on fire in a political statement? Instead, because this group of creepy thugs with small minds and big egos couldn't control themselves, they destroyed all that some of their neighbors had, but went back to the comfort of their own homes that night with all of their possessions intact.

I hope that the video footage provides neighbors an opportunity to finger the people who perpetuated this lawlessness. Because the people who did these acts are really no different than the Nazis whom they claimed to be opposing. Because a brown shirt and a swastika are not the only indicia of mindless evil.

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