In light of both the horrifying scenes of an Anaheim Klan rally this past weekend and the awkward political mainstreaming and grudging political repudiation of hatemongers like the Klan, American Renaissance, Daily Stormer, Louis Farrakhan and Stormfront, both sides of the political spectrum need to engage in introspection.
For Republicans, it is unacceptable for any major candidate to waver on repudiating hate groups, granting access to bigots, or subjecting protestors to manhandling and racial epithets. Moreover, they need to find a way to disagree with the President’s policies in a manner that respects his office and his dignity, and refrain from deriding him as a man not of his stated faith or as a person who doesn’t love his country. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s call should be embraced by all in his party, “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.”
For Progressives, hate groups pose a different challenge. While their leadership clearly rejects violence, that message has escaped a small group of those claiming to mobilize for social justice. We all must embrace the non-violence of Dr. King. Neither injustice, white privilege or the hatred spread by ethically broken men grants a moral license for the horrifying brutality I experienced first hand by some on the fringes of this otherwise laudable grassroots movement. It is therefore important to re-instill, the values both of peaceful positive change and the centrality of the First Amendment, even for ideas we loathe, whether it be on the streets or college campuses.
On Saturday I went to Anaheim, a beautiful and diverse city, armed with a pen, iPhone and index cards to conduct research on hate groups, something I have done for decades. The California Realm of the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights Klan (LWK) group was supposed to come to a park for an “informational walk.” California Grand Dragon William Quigg, 48, who organized the march, is as reprehensible as a hate monger can get: a racist, anti-Semite, Holocaust denier, who offers praise on Adolph Hitler and the Mother Emmanuel Shooter. He also praised Donald Trump in an effusive September twitter post.
As quickly because the LWK arrived shortly just after noon, the street adjoining the park turned into a violent maelstrom of knives, wooden planks, metal rods, fists, feet and blood. I can not say for positive who attacked initial, as there have been various brawls erupting at the same time. Practically instantly, I saw two Klansman in retreat with 1 Mr. Quigg around the ground. He was set upon by a violent mob armed with improvised wood and metal weapons. For the events visible on my side in the Klansmen’s SUV, it was a subgroup of counter protesters who were the aggressors, but there was another battle that ensued on the other side on the vehicle exactly where there was a stabbing, allegedly by a third Klansman.
When Mr. Quigg fell for the street even though being chased he was instantaneously struck and kicked repeatedly within the head and ribs as others with improvised weapons closed in. I did not have the luxury of grand introspection, my only believed becoming that it appeared he would be severely injured or killed, when my old NYPD coaching kicked in. I was not looking to make some grand philosophical statement, just trying to prevent severe harm to an additional individual.
I ran over as fast as I could, place myself more than him and with an outstretched arm commanded the crowd to stop, as a way to give him enough time to get up. I then attempted to vigorously walk amongst him as well as a group of assailants who were swarming about us, armed having a wooden plank plus a metal rod. It was the longest three minutes of my life as I braced for my face to smashes together with the wooden plank.
Afterwards I was compelled to ask Mr. Quigg how it felt to have his life possibly saved by a Jew, and he thanked me, though I’m certain by his other horrible comments that his heart is as resolute in its hatred as just before. Nevertheless, I would do it all more than once more if that situation arose.
While I was jostled, I was miraculously not physically hurt in the attack, although I am still quite, extremely shaken from what I knowledgeable. I have heard my Christian close friends say that there were occasions they felt that Jesus carried them via complicated occasions, and though some may perhaps mock this I genuinely believe God watched over me that day for some objective, although I’m not exactly positive for what. In rejecting anti-Semitism, Pope Francis reminded us, “Every human getting, as a creature of God, is our brother, regardless of his origins or religious beliefs.” I guess I subscribe to that, even when within this case it’s challenging.