Nazi rallies: the tip of the iceberg


Ben Sanders

On a cold winter morning, a convoy of trucks pass through the Polish countryside. They soon arrive under a metal sign that says “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work makes you free). Soviet soldiers pass into the compound, entering large concrete buildings and freeing countless prisoners. That day, on January 27, 1945, the horrors of Auschwitz were revealed to the world. 

   Nearly 77 years later, the world still remembers the day when years of Nazi torment and genocide were put to an end. The atrocities of a distant past remain engraved in our society as an evil part of history we must never forget–a part of history never to be repeated. 

   Sadly, the horrid beliefs of this regime still fester. Just after the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the streets of the United States were plagued with anti-semticism. 

   In Chicago, a synagogue and Jewish school were vandalized. In Washington D.C, a man r sprayed swastikas on a train station. In Orlando, neo-Nazis protested on a highway’s shoulder. Men and women dressed in black with red armbands shouted at passersby, screaming anti-semitic slogans. With their arms outstretched, they yelled:

“The Jew is the devil!”

“Jews brought slaves here!”

“Jews rape children and drink their blood!”

   Is this our country? How weak does one have to be to believe in this rhetoric? Almost a century later, these hostile attacks persist in one of the most democratic nations on Earth. 

   Their rhetoric is nothing new for Americans. For several decades, anti-semitism has taken roots in far right groups. As early as the 17th century, Jews fled to the new world in hopes of religious freedom and tolerance. For a while, they had it. 

   This acceptance, however, was short lived. During the civil war, Ulysses S. Grant was criticized for his anti-semetic actions of removing Jews from the war zone. Henry Ford, the inventor of the Model T, accused Jews of dominating American industries. Even during WW2, Jewish US soldiers were attacked and questioned on their loyalty to the war.

   Anti-semeticism continues in our modern age. Earlier in this month, an 11-hour hostage situation took place at a Jewish synagogue in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The rabbi that morning welcomed a stranger with a cup of tea. Little did he know the man would take him and three others hostage. 

   Eventually, police were able to free the remaining hostages and kill the perpetrator. The man stood by his actions, “Guess what, I will die,” he said.

   Why does hate continue to persist in an age of advancement and social justice? 

   The answer lies in the development of the internet and social media. With the birth of social media platforms and sites, information has never been more accessible–regardless of how radical. We have never been more endangered by radical weakness than now. 

   Social media puts the spotlight on the radical and distorted views of a small minority of Americans–amplifying extremist ideals to seem more commonplace than they actually are. These neo-Nazis weakly point the blame at Jews for all their problems. 

   The spotlight blurs truth, distorts fact, and undermines our country–our values. 

   Unfortunately, anti-semitic groups use these platforms to spread their rheotic. Spreading fake information and planning protests has never been easier. With most Americans getting their news from their phones, fake news has devastating potential. With the widespread nature of social media, these extremist groups are able to find more support than ever–contributing to protests like those of the neo-Nazis. 

   Social media companies have no financial incentive to filter fake news either. They actually profit from it. 

   Has our country really devolved to value money over peace? Over a stable future? When is it enough for the tech giants to take action? Will more lives be lost? If so, how many?

   The more outrageous the post, the more engagement and attention the post gets from users.  Tech companies can monetize this engagement through ads, sacrificing truth for profit. 

   This sacrifice has drastic impacts beyond the company’s profit. Misinformation has the ability to undermine our nation’s democracy, public health, and general historical truths. 

   Almost any and every opinion under the sun lies in the endless twitter threads. With the current pandemic and development of the COVID vaccine, people have turned to social media to share their opinions. Opinions vary from comparing vaccination to the Holocaust, sharing twisted facts and unscientific studies, to claiming that the vaccine actually kills people. Because social media has no incentive to control this fake information, posts continue to misinform and influence people. 

   As a society, we have never been more connected to information, both real and fake. With the unregulation of social media posts, fake news will continue to undermine society and the values that make America free. Weak and radical views have found a safe haven in social media. Their protection is almost guaranteed. 

   As Americans, we have a responsibility to hold these tech companies accountable. We have to advocate for government restrictions and regulations. Freedom is at stake. As human beings, it’s basic dignity. We shouldn’t just hold the tech giants accountable. The issue is an underlying weakness in our society. 

   Are you worried about your job security? Your bank account? Your community’s safety? Who could you blame? Out of all possible reasons, how weak do you have to be to use Judaism as a scapegoat? Why have people chosen to accept Nazi rhetoric as an answer? Is this really the age in which we live in? Decades later, Nazism has returned to our free society. 

   This outright display of discrimination is dividing our country. How are we expected to progress as a nation if people continue to contort their lives around blatantly wrong beliefs? 

   If we continue to allow weakness to empower beliefs, our nation will continue to deteriorate. Unfortunately, people remain adamant about their discriminatory beliefs. Weakness triumphs rationality in one of the greatest countries on Earth.  

   Any remaining sense of rationale and unity is slowly but surely slipping through our fingers.