update deskAntisemitism

Tennessee Democrats blame Republicans for Nashville neo-Nazi march

"Tennessee remains unwavering in our support for the nation of Israel and her people," stated Bill Lee, the GOP state governor.

A helmet with a swastika. Credit: Alex1983/Pixabay.
A helmet with a swastika. Credit: Alex1983/Pixabay.

Dozens of neo-Nazis bearing black swastika flags marched at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville on Saturday, drawing widespread condemnation from Jewish and political leaders, including two state representatives who blamed state Republicans for the march.

“Through the weekend, Nashville experienced gross displays of antisemitism and racism,” wrote Freddie O’Connell, Nashville’s Democrat mayor. “We will not let hateful distractions become dangerous actions.”

“Nazism and antisemitism should never be tolerated in any form,” wrote Republican Gov. Bill Lee. “As Jewish people around the world continue to face persecution, Tennessee remains unwavering in our support for the nation of Israel and her people.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville called the march “cowardly.”

The “masked neo-Nazis displayed disgusting imagery that is painful to many in our community,” it stated. “It is another example of the alarming increase in antisemitic and hate activity in our state. We are not and will not be afraid.”

Yad Vashem condemned the march, which it said was deeply troubling. “The message must be unequivocally: There is no place in our society for intolerance, racism or antisemitism,” it stated. “The imagery from the march through Nashville’s streets evokes painful memories for Jews worldwide.”

“The anti-Jewish ideology espoused by the Nazis served as a chilling prelude to the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews,” it added. “We urge American leadership to establish national standards for Holocaust education across the United States, ensuring that the messages and lessons of the Holocaust are engrained on the national agenda.”

William Lamberth, a state representative who is a Republican, told the “Nazi thugs” to leave. “This is Tennessee, and you are not welcome here,” he wrote. “By the way, why not show your faces so we can all see who you are? I would be willing to bet that none of you are from anywhere near here.”

Two state representatives, both Democrats, said the problem struck close to home and that their GOP colleagues were to blame for the neo-Nazi march.

Aftyn Behn wrote that “groups once relegated to the dark corners now feel empowered to spew their noxious ideology out in the open due to our state’s leadership refusing to condemn their speech and actions.”

Justin Jones was more explicit. “Just left an event honoring a black sorority and spoke of the need to unite against the rising tide of white supremacy, only to be confronted by Nazis marching through downtown Nashville,” he wrote. “This is exactly what my Republican colleagues’ hate speech is fostering and inviting.”

NBC reported, citing police sources, that the group left town in a U-Haul truck indicating that “the demonstrators may have been from out of town.”

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