Charlottesville's clashes reminiscent of '30s Nazi rallies at MSG

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The scenes out of the University of Virginia and Charlottesville reminded you of the German American Bund rallies at

The pictures out of Charlottesville this weekend are like black and white pictures out of the past, from German American Bund rallies, at Madison Square Garden in the 1930s.

That means Nazi rallies. All this time later, we get them in Virginia, just without German accents.

There were much clearer images out of Charlottesville this weekend than we once got in this city in the ’30s, with more modern video. The torches the white nationalists carried on Friday night helped tremendously with the visibility, in much the same way you get a better look at cockroaches on a kitchen floor when somebody turns on a light.

But a light was shined in all ways in Virginia on a hateful and shameful American moment, especially the Friday night rally that ended at a campus statue of Thomas Jefferson, a rally that had everything except crosses and robes to go with the torches. This was a shameful moment whether the ACLU was originally forced to defend these people, and their rights of assembly and free speech, or not.

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Protesters wielding torches march through campus.

(STRINGER/ALEJANDRO ALVAREZ/NEWS2SHARE)

This was a moment that had hardly anything to do with free speech and just about everything to do with putting faces to the growing lie that somehow white lives no longer matter in this country, nor do their liberties. And if you don’t think these really were like images of American Nazis out of the past, think again.

Go back and read about the rallies at the Garden in the late 1930s, organized by a tinhorn former Bavarian soldier named Fritz Julius Kuhn. Go back and look at the pictures. In February of 1939, there were 22,000 at the old Garden for the largest rally the Bund had ever held in this country. There was a huge portrait of George Washington in the middle of it all that night, and swastikas, and American flags. There was just no state of emergency like the one declared in Charlottesville, Va., on an August weekend before the start of classes at the University of Virginia.

That night in 1939 Kuhn called President Franklin Roosevelt “Frank D. Rosenfeld.” He referred to Roosevelt’s New Deal as the “Jew Deal.” Nearly 80 years later, at a storied American university, white protesters yelled, “Jews will not replace us.”

charlottesvilles-clashes-reminiscent-of-30s-nazi-rallies-at-msg photo 2 48 photos view gallery White supremacists and protesters clash following two-day rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

What happened in Charlottesville isn’t merely about angry white people in our country at this time, or scared white people. This was about a growing army of mean racists coming into the light with impunity, using the First Amendment as a shield. Or just swinging it like the baseball bats and clubs you saw on the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon.

Here is what a good, decent man named Mike Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, posted on Facebook in response to the small war that broke out in his city over the past 48 hours:

“I have seen tonight the images of torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia. When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights. Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here’s mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.”

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General view of German American Bund Rally at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 21, 1939.

(New York Daily News)

In that moment, Signer didn’t simply speak for himself or his city or the college that is the center of that city’s life. He spoke for us all, and what is supposed to be the best in us in a country whose divisions are now exploited for cheap and cynical political gain.

The other day you heard this from a deputy assistant to Donald Trump named Sebastian Gorka, whoever the hell he is:

“It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’” Maybe Gorka watched Charlottesville this weekend and thought it was misunderstood people trying to make white America great. Or just the white nationalist version of summer camp.

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Fritz Julius Kuhn organized the rallies at MSG in 1930s.

(New York Daily News)

The chuckleheads in Charlottesville aren’t soldiers of free speech, or American values, or the preservation of their white history, whatever that even means. They are lousy domestic terrorists. They aren’t trying to “unite the right.” They are slow-thinking and disenfranchised whites looking for a cause with almost flop-sweat desperation, punks with torches, famous now in the easiest possible way in America. For being stupid.

“Free America, free America, free America!” is what Fritz Kuhn yelled at his last great Bund rally at the Garden in 1939. He would have fit right in this weekend in Virginia. He would have been at the front of the line. Maybe even first torch. 

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Article Charlottesville's clashes reminiscent of '30s Nazi rallies at MSG compiled by www.nydailynews.com

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