Monday, August 08, 2005

Extremism at home

As the world watches the high-profile results of extremists abroad, taking smug satisfaction in the notion that they originated over there, our home-grown counter parts are growing in number and becoming more open.

David Neiwert is keeping up. His post has plenty of pictures and links.

This is a recent Minutemen rally. And yes, that's a Nazi flag there, third from the right. Well, I've been saying all along that the Minutemen's core demographic is constituted of right-wing extremists, including many outright racists.

At a recent anti-immigrant rally in Laguna Beach, the connection was made explicit.The rally was held July 30. It apparently was a follow-up of sorts to a similar rally held in the same locale on July 16, in which a local anti-immigration activist decided to protest a local arts festival's financial support for a day labor center for undocument workers. This rally drew the participation of the Save Our State campaign (an ostensibly mainstream anti-immigration organization) and the Minutemen's Jim Gilchrist. It also drew a contingent of neo-Nazis.

I am slowly and sadly coming to the conclusion that all the words and pictures in the world will not pursuade people to change their attitudes. It is life experiences that make the difference. I remember well when I was only twelve years old moving from Kentucky to Georgia, from a state where there were virtually no black people to one where the population was in some places majority black, although whites were in control through a system of legal segregation.

It didn't take long for me to swallow the system entirely. It was easy. When you are told that your race makes you superior to a large population of others it has a seductive effect on your ego. The effect is especially powerful if at the same time you are also able to see yourself "above" some other white people because they live a lifestyle we call "trashy." Add to this those powerful old "some of my best friends" and "not all of them" bromides and you have been vaccinated for life.

But life experiences can have a way of shattering false values. No need to revisit the details. They have been told elsewhere. This morning I am more interested in how another, more dangerous, population might be led to some life-changing esperiences that will help them interpret the world around them in a less hate-filled manner.

As I conclude my post, I am continuing to wonder...

All I can think to do is pray.

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