Subtle symbols

Looking around for possible indications of hate

Dr. Viktoria Hertling directs one of the few academic programs about the Holocaust in the U.S., and the only one in Nevada. It’s headquartered at the University of Nevada, Reno.

While the United States is not Nazi Germany, Hertling said she is alarmed that neo-Nazi and gang clothing, as well as Nazi symbols, have crept into the mainstream.

“The line is being somewhat blurred,” she said.

She’s not talking about swastika tattoos, although she’s not happy about seeing them. She’s talking about more subtle things. “White shoelaces in black combat boots and red suspenders,” she said. “Whenever I see combat boots, I look for the laces.”

Parents should be aware of hate symbols, she said. “For instance, ‘88’ stands for ‘Heil Hitler', because H is the eighth letter in the English alphabet.”

She recommends the book Lexicon for Hate, published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“Parents might not know what these symbols mean,” she said, “but youngsters know. If you see these symbols popping up among your youngster’s friends, you will have an idea of who is trying to recruit him.”

· National Conference for Community and Justice: 333-9000, Local programs to promote diversity.

· Simon Wiesenthal Center: Good resource for what neo-Nazis are up to; order the book Lexicon for Hate to learn what those symbols mean that kids scribble.

· Reno Police Department officer Craig Pittman: 334-3887. Community liaison to the chief of police for Reno. Have a suggestion for the police or need to report a hate crime in Reno? This is your man.

· City of Sparks Human Resources: Read the city’s Diversity Statement and Value Statement.

· Nizkor: Links to a vast number of Holocaust-related sites.

· Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Peace Studies: Wait for the graphic to load, or you’ll think you’ve hit a blank page. Information about the University of Nevada, Reno, program, plus links to historical material.

· United Against Hate: Clearinghouse for hate crime news.

· Jewish Defense League: Often confrontational Jewish group.

· Muslim Students’ Association at UNR:

· A Rainbow Place: 789-1780, Northern Nevada gay and lesbian community center.

· KKOH radio: Be sure to type the two “k"s, or you’ll miss it. Reno talk radio with Michael Savage, “the slimiest guy in talk radio.” He has a group, The Paul Revere Society, with a Web site, Read his alarming message.