Opinion

Is there no end to the hatred? Let’s call Nazi imagery what it is: hatred

Hate is like mold or fungus. It thrives in dark places. It repels and disgusts most of us when we happen upon it. It is spreading in Lynn. 

If we love our city, if we love all people who make it a great place in which to live and do business, then we are long overdue in our responsibility to confront hate, to make it a public discussion topic in the broadest possible forum, and to support all efforts to expose those responsible for perpetuating it in our community. 

Fortunately, individual hate-fighters are hard at work in Lynn and other communities and a local institution, Lynn Community Television (LCTV), is shining its own light on hate.

The community cable public access station is inviting the public to a Monday, August 19, 7 p.m. forum on hate and anti-Semitic graffiti that has appeared around the city. The forum will be held at LCTV’s 181 Union St. studios.

Residents who refuse to tolerate hate’s infestation in Lynn photographed hate graffiti found during the last year in the Mount Vernon, Silsbee and Broad streets area. They forwarded the photographs to the Anti-Defamation League before the offending symbols were painted over.

The symbols included a swastika scrawled on the back door of a Silsbee Street business in late 2018 and a moustache mimicking Adolph Hitler’s drawn days ago on a woman’s face depicted in a downtown mural. 

Add this filth to the Holocaust denial posters left at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead on July 15. 

If you are responsible for these acts and you are reading these words, step into the light and tell the rest of us why you embrace the hate and terror that defined Nazi Germany.

The symbols common to each of the downtown hate scrawlings were twin, angularly-drawn ‘S’s or lightning bolts. John Keegan, in his 1970 book titled, “Waffen SS the asphalt soldiers,” tells us the SS, Hitler’s killing machine, drew on ancient Nordic “runes” to create their signature lightning bolt emblem.

Who were the SS? 

Read William L. Shirer’s 1959 classic, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” to learn about what the SS did in Austria.

“Hundreds of Jews, men and women, were picked off the streets and put to work cleaning public latrines and the toilets of the barracks where the S.A. and S.S. were quartered.”

Want a little more information about the SS? Read Peter Caddick-Adams’ description (“Snow and Steel,” 2015) of the December, 1944 massacre of American troops in Belgium.

“‘SS troops vicinity {map reference} L 8199 captured US MP, with about two hundred US soldiers … When finished, Germans lined up Americans and shot them with machine pistols and machine guns.'”

Why would someone celebrate Nazi Germany in graffiti images, paying homage to a sick, hateful regime responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews, in addition to thousands of other war fatalities including American GIs? What attracts someone to the terror and fear the Nazis employed during their enslavement of Europe and the former western Soviet Union?

If you are related to a GI who fought in World War II; if you ever watched World War II veterans march by you in a parade; if you have ever looked up at an American flag, then you should be disgusted to your core by even the most tangential, never mind obvious, reference to the Nazi-killing machine that was the SS. 

History’s accumulating weight always informs the present. It crushes with truth those who traffic in fear, who sneak out and scrawl hate and then dash back into dark corners. 

We can never become complacent about hate and its imagery, warned Anti-Defamation League New England Executive Director Robert Trestan.

“We run a grave danger of becoming immune to symbols of hatred. If we become immune, we lose our moral compass. We should never miss calling out people who traffic in hatred,” Trestan said. 

It is time for us all to shine light on hate when we see it. We must report it to authorities and organizations charged with fighting hate and prosecuting it. We must take a zero tolerance attitude toward hate, all the while knowing that the battle against hate never ends but the alternative — existence beneath the weight of terror and fear — awaits us if we surrender to hate. 

 

 

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