There is currently much handwringing among those on both the left and right of the political spectrum as to whether individuals holding and expressing Nazi sentiments are entitled to the constitutional protections of the First Amendment.
There should be no debate about this matter. It is an issue that was litigated in blood spilled by our fathers and grandfathers on the battlefields of North Africa and Europe and decided, one hoped definitively, in May of 1945.
There is no place in any civilized society for Nazis. Their beliefs are the very negation of the principles embodied in the Constitution, and there should be no legal protections for Nazism or its adherents.
That the issue persists is evidence of the shortness of human memory and the persistence of human evil. A steadily diminishing cohort of my fellow octogenarians and I are old enough to have lived through the real thing in all its horror.
Seventy-five years ago, on the weekend in which a pale imitation came to Charlottesville, Nazis in were rounding up Jews in the Warsaw ghetto by the thousands daily, herding them into cattle cars, ostensibly to be “resettled” in the east, but in reality bound for the gas ovens of Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno and Belzec.
No legal niceties, save those of meeting daily quotas of victims, troubled the minds of the Nazis involved. No legal nicety deterred an accused driver from ramming his car into those with whom he disagreed.
This ultimate expression of human evil started in the early 1930s with rallies such as those seen in Charlottesville. With mindless torch-bearing hooligans determined to “Make Germany Great Again” and who chanted anti-Jewish shouts and slogans, and with paramilitary thugs beating up those who challenged them.
The path ahead, should our domestic Nazis prevail, is all too predictable. To afford any measure of constitutional protection to those who subscribe to Nazism is to embark on the slippery slope of self-destruction.
Label their party a “terrorist organization” and wipe out this cancer before it spreads further.
Robert F. Bryan, Fluvanna County