Sticks, stones beat words in Ohio

By Kara Karlson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ugly, vile ideas have existed throughout history, and many persist today. These ideas have created oppression, suffering and death to the point of genocide. Every measure should be taken to ensure these ugly ideas are refuted at every turn by accurate and logical reasons why those ugly ideas are wrong.

But a reasoned response is not what "America's Nazi Party" received when they visited Ohio. The neo-Nazis argued that a bunch of black gang members had take over the neighborhood and made it unsafe for their "Aryan brothers."

So to prove the white supremacists wrong, the neighbors in the 'hood started a riot. They threw bricks and rocks at cops, tried to drag police on horses to the ground, burned homes and looted stores in response to this march.

The Nazis didn't march that day because of the large crowd of soon-to-be-rioters, so the "neighbors" attacked police to prove that violent gang members have not taken over the neighborhood.

No civilians were hurt: All the white supremacists were safe, but 12 officers were injured - officers who weren't wearing swastikas on their foreheads or chanting "Heil Hitler."

The neighbors did not believe that "outsiders" should be able to come to their neighborhood and insult them.

So, like kids in a playground, when the Nazis came with insults, instead of realizing that "words will never hurt me," the Ohio residents got out the sticks and stones.

The Nazis have planned to walk again. And why not?

Instead of their message being contained to that little Ohio neighborhood (the riot took place within only 1 square mile of neighborhood) it received national attention.

The riot turned out to be the perfect recruitment tool: "See, little skinhead-in-training, they really are everything we said they were, because no Aryan would start a riot and burn down a brother Aryan's home."

The First Amendment protects their right to spew hatred. The Nazi's permit was revoked at the last minute when Toledo City officials saw the trouble brewing and there is little chance, unless they drag this before the court, that the Nazis will ever get another permit in Toledo.

City officials do not want this happening again, for good reason. They do not want more peace officers getting hurt.

However, just because people cannot control themselves, that does not mean we should prohibit a group from voicing their opinion, no matter how ugly.

The skinheads had met all the requirements for the march, as proved by the fact that they had police escorts to begin with. They should have been allowed to walk unmolested, as WilliAnn Moore, president of the Toledo National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, urged.

Unfortunately, Moore's intelligent advice that was in the best interests of the black community was ignored.

The kick is that neighborhood residents, instead of being outraged at the rioters, are upset that the city "allowed" the march to begin with. They believe that if the white supremacists had never come to Toledo, then the riot would never have happened.

But Toledo Mayor Jack Ford insisted that the riot was sparked not by underlying racial tensions but by the gang mentality these men have adopted. He noted the rioters were mostly young male gang members.

In other words, the rioters were using any excuse to engage in violent activities, and came out in full gang regalia for this event the way football players would go to a game in full uniform.

And while their anger was more than justified, the resulting violence was not.

Is there the possibility of imminent danger if the Nazis march again as they plan to do?

Yes, there is a high possibility that there will be another riot.

But if we, as a country, base our rights on the nearly certain outcome of violence, we become ruled by the mob and unrestrained emotion, unrestrained hatred.

As destructive and disgusting as the words, ideas and presence of the Nazi party was in Ohio on Oct. 15, the property damage and bodily injury perpetrated by the mob of rioters was worse.

There was no imminent physical threat to the crowd by the existence of the Nazis. But if the skinheads had begun lynching people in the midst of this riot, the police probably would have been so focused on trying to disperse the crowd and defend their own that neither gangs nor police might have noticed.

Kara Karlson is a journalism senior. She can be reached at