The regeneration of the Nazi has been lead by the proliferation of their salute. Whether in jest, or not, the dangers are obvious.
Ah, Nazis. No matter what we do, we can’t seem to get rid of them. Whether it’s actual Nazis of yore, neo-Nazis like David Duke, wannabe Nazis like Richard Spencer, or the “ironic” Nazis, like a bad case of fleas, we just can’t seem to shake them.
Maybe it’s just because they’re so fun! And, you know, it’s so easy to trigger the libs by saying fun Nazi stuff, like “death to Jews”, or throwing up that sweet, Roman Empire-inspired Nazi salute.
Oh, yeah, that last one? That was a group of kids. Teenagers in Wisconsin, more specifically. Allegedly the photographer told the kids to “lift their hands” as if they were “saying goodbye to their parents”, although one student, Jordan Blue, who was there – and can be seen not smiling, nor lifting his hand in an apparent Nazi salute – disputes that version of events.
“(The photographer) told (us) to ‘raise your hand’. The way the students had taken (that direction) was out of control,” Blue told CNN. “My peers should not have raised it in this specific way that was the offensive way and hurtful way.”
Blue went on to say that he was “hurt” and “scared for the future” after witnessing his classmates gleefully throwing up a Nazi salute for everyone to see. Oh, and then there’s this gem:
“The image of the teenagers performing the apparent salute first surfaced on Twitter after it was shared by an account named ‘Welcome to Baraboo’. The post – now deleted – was captioned: ‘We even got the black kid to throw it up.’”
This means that at least one student was aware of what was happening, given that it was students who posted the image with that caption to start with.
Also on The Big Smoke
- There goes the neighbourhood: Confronting the fascist fight club next door
- You can lead a supremacist to education, but can you make them think?
So, now what? Well, apparently, nothing. The school said they didn’t want to violate the students’ First Amendment rights, so they would not be punished. This was because they could not ascertain “the intentions in the hearts of those who were involved” and that they were still unclear “about some key details”.
Now, this could very well have been some harmless misunderstanding, although given some of the above evidence that seems like foolishly optimistic thinking. If it was, then the kids don’t deserve any punishment. But what if it wasn’t? And don’t we punish people for accidentally doing something wrong, too?
Sure, expulsion is probably extreme, but is missing graduation? Or having a note on their educational record? Or literally just a stern talking to in front of the school? Anything that shows not only the school cares, but that what these kids did was wrong?
We lack any kind of real world consequences for when this kind of thing comes up. The First Amendment in America, and our not-enshrined-but-well-beloved Freedom of Speech here in Australia, is often a cover-all for allowing bad people to say bad things. But, as has been said repeatedly, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.
We need action plans in place for this kind of disturbance. Hate speech laws are one good way to deal with it, as in Canada, Australia and the UK. The USA has a ways to come until they reconcile these ideas with their stringent adherence to the letter of the First Amendment. And if they don’t, then people will just keep getting away with the behaviour until it’s normal, and then where will we be?