My name is Andrew, I am 13 years of age and am currently an eighth grader at Baylor School. The issue of the National Socialist Movement coming to Chattanooga to rally was brought to my attention during Civics class, the study of our government. We were encouraged not to be bystanders. I thought that the city of Chattanooga might like to know what the youth of this city thinks about this issue. This is why I write to you today.
First of all, I am appalled that an organization of this nature would chose Chattanooga to hold an anniversary rally because they feel that they have many supporters in this area. Not only does this event paint an image that Chattanooga is a city full of racism and hate, I am worried that as the nation looks to Chattanooga for a reaction we will remain silent. No action from us suggests that we agree with the NSM's ideals and practices.
The group they intend to target, illegal immigrants, is a small number of the greater Chattanooga area's population. Many people who have heard about the NSM coming to Chattanooga have thought, "Well it isn't me they are coming after so I am safe."
In the 1930s and '40s during Adolf Hitler's rise to power, there was a man by the name of Martin Niemoeller. Niemoeller was a Protestant church leader. When Hitler targeted various groups of people Niemoeller remained silent, passive, a bystander. He later stated, "In Germany, the Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me."
If we become bystanders when this event takes place simply because it is not you the NSM is targeting what happens when the tables turn and you are being targeted?
Empathy is another word that comes to mind when talking about the NSM coming to Chattanooga. It is important to remember to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes. They might be rallying against illegal immigration but their ideals still affect a broad range of minorities. These neo-Nazis might not talk about it but they also oppose our Jewish, African American, LGBT and Hispanic neighbors. On nsm88.com, under the 25 point platform, bullet four states, "Only those of pure white blood... may be members of the nation [The United States].... Accordingly, no Jew or homosexual may be a member of the nation." Many of our friends and family fall into one of these categories, the NSM clearly states in their 25 point platform that they do not want the groups above as citizens of the United States. According to the NSM's views "America was founded by Whites for Whites." Imagine being told you are not good enough to live in this country equally. The African Americans who lived through the times of civil right movements do not have to imagine.
Although the NSM has a constitutional right to assemble peacefully, and the First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of speech, that does not mean it has to be heard. Many organization such as the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that has fought for the protection of Jews and other targeted minorities, believe that quarantine is the best solution. Quarantine is ignoring the rally and giving them absolutely no attention. The NSM strives for publicity, counter protestors will only give them what they want. They need the publicity to broaden their personnel and get their horrendous ideas out into the world.
Another tactic to prevent their hateful views from spreading is education. Education is by far one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others from catching the virus we know as hate. If we educate ourselves then we have the power of fact and truth. Ignorance is what hate groups, like the NSM, use to recruit people. If you listen to the propaganda they feed you and don't have another information then their arguments look concrete and solid. Upon close inspection their arguments crumble. Upon the utilization of facts and evidence you can see through the hate, you can raise the veil of lies and see that these people have just revived the short end of the stick thought life and want to find someone else to blame it on besides themselves.
In conclusion, bystanders allow bullies to rise and flourish. In the 2001 film The Majestic, staring Jim Carrey, a soldier named Luke Trimble who died during WWII writes in one of his last letters home, "When bullies rise up, the rest of us have to beat them back down, whatever the cost. That's a simple idea, I suppose, but one worth giving everything for." The bully Trimble refers to was Nazi Germany. We have a branch of these bullies coming to our town. We need to show with crystal clarity that we do not agree with the ideals of this and other hate organizations. We need the nation to know that we support our friends, family, minorities and community when organizations such as the National Socialist Movement bombard them.