Neo-Nazi Rally Turns Violent --Detroit Free Press
White Supremacists Riot in Toledo --ABC Online
Six Arrested After Nazi March Turns Violent --Newsday
Only one problem: They are completely wrong.
Yes, the streets of Toledo did turn violent last weekend, it's true. Police arrested 114 people after looters broke into and robbed a convenience store and a bar, destroyed an ambulance, overturned cars, and set a building on fire. Rioters injured at least a dozen cops, including one officer who suffered a concussion after a brick hit her in the head as she sat in her squad car.
But despite what you read on the front page of your paper, none of this -- not a single action -- involved Nazis, neo or otherwise. As the Toledo Blade reported: "Toledo police cancelled a planned Nazi rally through North Toledo before it even started because of disturbances among protestors along the route." The "Sieg Heil" squad left some two hours before the looting and fires ever started.
Lord knows, if there's any group I'd like to blame for the ills of the world, it's the Nazis. If we could blame the world's problems on the "I Love Hitler" crowd, we'd have a world without problems, because there are, what, 45 neo-Nazis in the entire country? If you got every member of the American Nazi Party together, you might be able to overturn one car, as long as it wasn't too big. Maybe a Volkswagen.
So how did these fringe fascists get blamed for the Toledo riot?
Maybe it's the press's anti-Nazi bias. If so, they'll get no complaints from me.
Or maybe the mainstream media buys the argument, offered by some of the rioters and their defenders, that the riot was a civil rights protest against fascism.
"You can't allow people to come challenge a whole city and not think they weren't going to strike back," said one local resident. Several others complained that the city should never have allowed the Nazis to gather in the first place. One man who lived near the looted bar said "They don't have the right to bring hate to my front yard."
OK, so at first glance, burning down your neighbor's house to protest free speech might not appear to be in the tradition of Dr. King at Selma, but...
To his credit, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford -- who happens to be black -- defended the First Amendment to the angry mob in his city's streets. To his shame, he also explained it to the known gang leaders he negotiated with in a failed attempt to prevent violence.
Afterwards, he reported that the gang members he negotiated with "weren't interested" in making a deal.
Darn! And those gangbangers are usually so reasonable about these things.
So to recap: In response to a Nazi rally that didn't happen, several hundred black Americans burned down buildings and looted businesses in their own community, apparently in protest of the First Amendment, while the elected mayor of a mid-sized American city negotiated with the gangsters among them to plead for order in the streets.
And it's all the Nazis' fault?
Even if you believe that neo-Nazism poses an imminent threat to the Republic, how does destroying a Toledo gas station or setting a local bar on fire help hold back the Aryan hordes? I just wonder how many other Americans, watching the disturbing images of hundreds of black neighbors rushing a local convenience store, were reminded not of Nuremberg, but New Orleans?
I can understand why headline writers at places like Newsday and ABC were quick to make the Toledo story a "Nazi" story and not a "race riot" story. Goose-stepping Nazis are just a freak show story. It has no connection to real issues in mainstream American society. The story of yet another mob of black citizens assaulting their own community with shameless crime and pointless violence cannot be so easily dismissed. It raises uncomfortable questions that "nut Nazi" stories do not.
I realize that, as a white guy, I am supposed to let this behavior go by without comment. That was certainly the mainstream media's strategy.
I'm also not supposed to notice that on the same day, a thousand miles away in Washington, D.C., thousands of black Americans gathered to hear Louis Farrakhan's latest theory on how the Bush administration blew up the levees in Louisiana. If I'm alarmed by the sight of great masses of my fellow Americans in support of a anti-Semitic loony waiting to be beamed up to the Mother Ship, it's my duty as a white guy not to let it show.
But it does make me nervous. If the American Nazi Party had a million members, I'd be nervous about that, too -- even if that number represented a mere one percent of America's white population. The same would be true if thousands of Hispanic Americans were rioting on behalf of the "reconquista" movement to return the southwestern US to Mexico.
But they aren't. There is only one community in America where this irrational, self-destructive street violence occurs again and again. As an American, I'd like to do something to help change that fact. But I don't think I'm allowed to, because I don't think I'm allowed to even acknowledge that there's a problem.
Unfortunately, the problems facing black Americans are very real. The lingering racism black Americans face is real, too, as are the setbacks some black Americans choose to bring upon themselves.
A lot of very smart people, from Dr. Thomas Sowell to Ward Connerly, have ideas on how to confront these problems and make a positive difference.
Blaming the Nazis, however, is not one of them.