Dick Bernard: The Nine Percenters

NOTE: A friend had a front row seat for a perfect view of the Eclipse last Monday. I added her comment to my Monday post, here.

Earlier this week came an article: A recent poll finds that 9% of Americans are okay with white supremacist or neo-nazi views.

It was a troubling article – 22 million Americans (9% of adults) is a lot of folks.

I try to keep it in perspective. 9% means 91% are not in this exclusive club…. My townhome association has 96 units and perhaps 150 adult residents. It wouldn’t surprise me to find 13 or 14 of the residents as sympathetic to “white supremacist or neo-nazi views”. My suburb is over 60,000 population. Similarly, 5,000 with those kinds of views, here, would not surprise. I don’t know who they are. They keep to themselves. If some of them want to play war out in some woods, so be it.

Tomorrow is our Woodbury Days Parade and I doubt I’ll see a unit of neo-nazis on the march. I doubt I’ll see a neo-nazi or white supremacist booth on the ground.

I temper my fear of potential ascendancy of these folks by keeping in mind that I rarely if ever see someone who is actively espousing those views, in public, anyway. To be overtly radical fringe is frowned on in our civilized society (the good news). We mostly see it in television clips involving the President of the United States (the bad).

*

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, there was an advertised “free speech” gathering in Boston. The neo-nazi types gathered inside a rather small gazebo; the counter-protestors, at a distance and peaceful, numbered in the tens of thousands, according to reports, and verified by news helicopter film.

Then there’s the President of the United States, in the Friday news dump yesterday pardoning Joe Arpaio, the modern day Bull Connor of Maricopa County Arizona, who stepped over the llegal line with overly diligent and abusive law enforcement, and was finally retired by the voters, and found guilty in court. On the same day Trump decreed no more of those transgender types in our military, even though our military is far beyond those olden days. (More on each, here.)

Then he wanders off to Camp David, wishing the folks in the path of Hurricane Harvey good luck.

Trump is no surprise, neither are the nine percenters.

A year ago Trump ran on fears and prejudices, and he picks up his cues on public policy pronouncements from them, out on the fringe. The “authentic” Trump is the one at those rallies, such as the recent one in Phoenix. He doesn’t have an authentic bone in his body, I reckon, so he just relays whatever it is that they want to hear. They are his “base”. His authenticity.

I have long thought that Trumps reliable base is about one-fourth of voting Americans, including, of course, those nine percenters…but that leaves three-fourths – the rest of us.

But every day of poisoning the political atmosphere is more and more dangerous to the continuance of a free democratic republic which we so value. Every person who gets turned off by politics contributes to the problem.

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Tomorrow in my town is the annual Woodbury Days parade. Normally I’ve been in the cadre of the local DFL (Democrat) legislators, wonderful public servants. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just observe who passes me by, a spectator.

Stay – or become – involved.

Stay tuned.

COMMENT
from Paul: Thanks, Dick, for another thoughtful piece.

I have not been surprised to see the neo-nazis and white-supremacists surface recently. I recall in my late teen years learning about the alt-right of the early 60s, the John Birch Society. Then as a young college student at North Dakota State University (1964-68) George Lincoln Rockwell came to campus to speak. He was the founder of the American Nazi Party. I attended that speech, not to cheer, but to look the devil in the eye. Most in attendance had the same motivation and reaction against his brand of hate. Then in the late 60s and 70s there were the militias and survivalists out in the forests and mountains playing revolution with their guns, planning for either an armed rebellion or an active resistance to the U.S. Government and United Nations World Government that they feared.

I view this latest as another round of these dangerous fanatics that crawled out when Trump and his followers kicked over the rock they typically were hiding under. The resistance to these hate groups is strong and confident. I do not believe the right wing fanatics will win this struggle in the end even if they have a few victories along the way (like the Arpaio pardon, the transgender ban, the immigration restrictions, etc.) Two steps forward for every step backward. At least I still hope for that.

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