We must remember

Collective memory of WWII essential to keep fascism at bay

As the remaining members of the so-called Greatest Generation live out their last days, as they shuffle off this mortal coil one by one, so too fades the collective memory of our nation’s battle against fascism.

In that vacuum has emerged a collective forgetting, as evidenced by the recent events in Charlottesville, Va. There, the world witnessed unbridled hate, a coming-out party for those who ascribe to a disease called racism. We watched literal torch-carrying white nationalists screaming Nazi chants (“Jews will not replace us”) and other vile and dangerous slogans.

Tragically, a peaceful counterprotester was killed. The suspect: an alleged Nazi sympathizer, a 20-year-old Ohio resident who, according to a former high school teacher, was “very misguided and disillusioned.” Nineteen others were injured, some severely.

We saw early warning signs of this cancer bubbling at the national level during the presidential campaign, as then-candidate Donald Trump went all-in on his nativist rhetoric. Here in the North State, friends and neighbors reported heightened instances of bigotry: white supremacist propaganda posted at the university, fake deportation notices at a high school and swastikas scrawled in the privacy of a bathroom stall by a hateful coward.

Trump emboldened members of the dark underbelly of America then, and he showed his true colors again this week as he defended the white supremacists by downplaying their actions and casting blame on “both sides.”

The silver lining: Prominent members of both major parties have denounced Trump’s stance. As Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”

Indeed, the man who ostensibly leads the party of Lincoln should do so. But he won’t, because he’s an ignorant neo-Nazi sympathizer.

Our nation has seen bigotry and hatred before. Our elders remember. The rest of us must, too, if we are to keep history from repeating itself.