Monday, July 18, 2005

Springtime For Hitler

Breaking local news when I got home: The City of Cadillac, which I passed through today, is getting much unwanted attention from all over the world after a city employee presented a local neo-Nazi group with thank-you certificates for picking up litter during a city park clean-up day in May. The group showed up at the event in their Nazi regalia -- swastikas, boots, shaved heads.

I'm sorry, but how stupid are people who can't recognize a gang of Nazis descending upon their city park, and who would sign off on a certificate of appreciation for self-identified "National Socialists"? D'oh!

7 comments:

J.C. Fisher said...

I heard about this story earlier in the week (but I didn't know they'd shown up in their Nazi-drag! :-0)

Just knowing that they'd picked up, I thought it should have been handled thusly: whoever their contact-person (gruppen-fuhrer?) is, the certificate should have just said "John Doe and group".

There: you've treated them as you would have any other group (giving 'em their certificate) but without the abomination of soiling paper, ink or writing-hand w/ the words "National Socialist"---Blech!

However, knowing that they shown up en regalia, makes the story completely different: they should have been disqualified, as if a "Naturist" group had shown up in-the-nude (though the latter is, of course, less offensive). "Sorry, mates: not in THAT are you joining *us* for garbage pick-up!"

Common sense: even rarer than cheap gas today . . .

Charlotte said...

In answer to your question ... someone who didn't know "national socialist" meant "Nazi".

There are plenty of the Differently Historically Clued out there. It seems as though at least one was working for city government.

Wayne said...

Tawonda,

Most of the times I agree with your posts. Unfortunately, in this case I cannot.

No matter how repugnent the National Socialist Party is, if it is willing to pick up the liter in a park as a Volunteer group, just like any other volunteer groups. And if the other volunteer groups would have been recognized in similar fashion, I think the case can be made that the Nazies should likewise be recognized.

But it does leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

LutheranChik said...

Charlotte: Considering that a girl in my high school history class -- a very good class taught by someone who truly enjoyed history -- got through a two-week discussion of WW II without knowing which side won...and this was her second time through the class...I should not be surprised by anything relating to people's ignorance of history. [rueful smile]

There is a scary skinhead subculture in this part of the state...I know when I lived there one of my friends was aghast because the next-door neighbors' kid was flying a Nazi flag out of his bedroom every night, and had posters of Hitler, etc., in his bedroom...the kid later got in trouble for spraypainting anti-Semitic grafitti on public buildings, and the parents said, "D'oh...we didn't know he was interested in that sort of thing..." Ironically, there's also a nascent "alternative" subculture in town. May we live in interesting time.

LutheranChik said...

J.C. and Wayne: I thought about this for a bit -- what if I was in a group that the city fathers (not too many city mothers up there) deemed unacceptable? The local UCC church, for instance, is boldly open and inclusive...what if their social action group were told it couldn't participate in a city cleanup day because their presence made other citizens uncomfortable? How would I feel if I were told I couldn't participate in this act of civic service?

Answer: The nonprofit agency I work for has specific language in our volunteer policies and procedures that prohibits volunteers from wearing clothing that is vulgar, inflammatory, discriminatory, etc. I would suggest that this city council have its attorney and whomever's in charge of volunteer coordination develop a dress code policy for even casual, one-day volunteers. Furthermore, even if people are volunteering as members of groups, it would probably be a good idea to simply acknowledge their help as individuals...so if the Nazis show up (in appropriately neutral clothing, per the new rules), they each get a personal certificate of thanks that doesn't mention their group affiliation at all. If your essential motivation is truly to help make your city a nicer place, and not to make a statement, I'd think this would not be an issue.

Or...next year just call the Girl Scouts and have them do the whole job...in my experience, they need the programming challenge.;-) (Bored Brownie dropout speaking.)

My understanding is that this particular Nazi group participated in this event precisely to raise a ruckus because they knew that denying them access to the event would create a legal issue. They've already retained legal counsel anyway.

There was a similar situation down in the Bay City area a couple of years ago -- a white-supremacist "preacher" moved into a storefront in a nearby community and began holding "services" (incendiary rants against all the usual suspects)...what happened in this case was that the community (with admirable leadership from the local ELCA parish, BTW...I know the pastor, and he's great)rallied in a really heartening way, publicly repudiated hate groups, held a big diversity rally and a successful fun day at the local park that celebrated diversity...real "not in our town" stuff. There is still a white supremacist presence in the area, but I think it was unpleasantly surprised by the public's strong negative reaction, once its activities came to light.

Wasp Jerky said...

That sounds suspiciously like a scene from a John Irving novel.

Purechristianithink said...

Seems like there was a similar case somewhere recently where a Nazi(or Klan?) group did one of those "adopt a strech of freeway" things because they knew it was customary to put up a roadsign saying,"This roadside maintained by . . ." There was a legal case, I think. I don't remember how it came out in the end.