Toledo, Ohio, residents over the weekend demonstrated why it is generally better to ignore messages of hate than trying to outshout the unreasonable messengers.
A crowd that gathered to protest a white supremacist group’s march instead began a riot. The crowd threw rocks at police and vandalized vehicles and stores, burning a bar. Mayor Jack Ford blamed gang members taking advantage of a volatile situation for the violence. The National Socialist Movement canceled its march, but still got what it wanted in Toledo.
Toledo residents not only showed up, they also reacted.
The National Socialist Movement, which calls itself America’s Nazi Party, was going to march in Toledo presumably to advance an all-white society and to spew the usual hatred. In response, Toledo residents tore apart a section of their own city.
The message such groups spread is one we’d prefer not to hear. However, freedom of speech permits them to spread their ideology of exclusion.
It’s important to remember that reasonable people usually can discuss things, even if they continue to disagree. Hate groups don’t offer such rational thinking. There’s no discussion, only provocation. They play off of stereotypes and fears. The groups want a turnout, be it an angry group or like-minded recruits.
In 1999, the Ku Klux Klan held rallies around the Ohio region. Rather than trying to shout over the planned white supremacy garbage, a coalition of community groups held an alternative event — far from where the Klan planned to hold its rally, eliminating the possibility of confrontation.
Ignoring such groups altogether is a better option still. While the coalition held a nice event for people of all colors, reasonable people shouldn’t need a second option to a Ku Klux Klan rally. Take the kids to the park. Walk your dog. Mow the yard. Read a book. Watch a football game. Play Scrabble.
Ignoring hate groups isn’t likely to make them go away. However, turning out is sure to bring them back.