Like many residents and readers of this fine journal my British parents were members of the “greatest generation,” and sadly like so many American families lost loved ones fighting the scourge of Nazism. It is easy to forget that not only did Adolf Hitler and his henchmen commit the greatest genocide in history they also created the very situation that led to the deaths of ten of millions of innocent people throughout Europe and the Soviet Union, the latter country losing more people than the other countries combined. A literature and foreign policy search by readers will show you which countries have banned Nazism and its acolytes, together with its various forms, including symbols such as the swastika. In the United States that joined with the British and Canadians in landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, to liberate Europe from the Nazi evil we have a great democratic institution enshrined in our Constitution. The First Amendment has become one of the pillars of our fundamental freedom that Adolf Hitler would have liked to destroy by merciless cruelty. Our Constitution permits the current followers of the Nazi creed and Mein Kampf to pursue their beliefs peacefully and to represent them by legal means in all the media forms with which we are familiar, including peaceful demonstrations, the internet, and marches. To many, including this writer, this seems the antithesis of freedom, by providing the environment for those whose ideological predecessors caused death and destruction, to flourish and, perhaps worse, nurture recruits to the Nazi creed.
Protection and perpetuation of the First Amendment in its entirety is an absolute must for our vibrant democracy. However, there are other ways and means to counter the extreme right wing fascist challenge from reborn Nazism. An examination of the legal precedents set in other countries is a very good starting point. In particular, we should perhaps take a leaf from the legal book of our great ally in the United Kingdom. As in the US, the British do not ever wish to muzzle freedom of speech in all its many forms. However, the British have terrorism laws that are wide-ranging. The latter include the use of actual and implied violence, by extremist groups, such as the born-again Nazis. Leaving aside British laws regarding other forms of non terrorist related violent crime, British Nazi groups that stray into the areas of inciting, or implying, by their acts, that violent outcomes may ensue, fall within the bounds of what are in the post 911 era new legal constructs and precedents for defining and prosecuting terrorism.
For those deeply concerned about resurgent Nazism in the United States, with its fascist, anti-Semitic, and racist ideology, now is the time to stand up and be counted. Never be afraid to challenge evil when it is staring us in the face. Our beloved, wonderful, and courageous forebears in the greatest generation expect no less of us.
Anthony Wells, The Plains, Va