By Robert Mann
As anyone who has seen the 1981 film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” understands, you need not be a historian to know Nazis are bad people. It’s right there in one of the movie’s early scenes, when Harrison Ford’s character, Indiana Jones, leans out from his perch and sees the strutting German soldiers below. “Nazis,” he mutters. “I hate these guys.”
Anyone familiar with actual history will recall that much of the civilized world fought a world war to rid the planet of Nazis and their homicidal racism.
That seems to elude President-elect Donald Trump and those around him, one of whom, Steve Bannon, was executive chair of Breitbart News, the leading purveyor of “white ethno-nationalism.” Bannon, soon to be Trump’s chief strategist and on par with the chief of staff, once described his publication as “the platform for the alt-right.”
“Alt-right” is an anodyne phrase that sounds like the first step in unfreezing your computer. It’s meant to obscure the disgusting beliefs of its adherents. Let’s call these creeps the names that fit them best: racists and neo-Nazis.
If you’ve been reading the news, you have noticed that neo-Nazis are thrilled with Trump’s election. One of their ideological cousins, the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan, says it plans a parade to celebrate Trump’s victory. Spray-painted swastikas and “Heil, Trump” have appeared across the country on homes and churches. There have been many reported acts of violence or harassment aimed at minorities by self-proclaimed Trump supporters.
David Duke, the prominent Louisiana neo-Nazi, is so delighted about Trump’s election he can barely contain his glee. “Make no mistake about it,” Duke wrote, “our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”
Then there was a triumphant conclave of neo-Nazis in Washington a few days ago. As reported in The New York Times, an alt-right conference convened in a federal building a few blocks from the White House to exult in Trump’s win. Led by Richard B. Spencer, a leading neo-Nazi, the conference featured 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions about the ascendant neo-Nazi movement under a Trump administration.
The Times reporter observed that Spencer “began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the ‘children of the sun,’ a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were ‘awakening to their own identity.’
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