I'm not usually one for political theatre. However, it's not every day that professing Nazis hold a rally on the Capitol steps. And so why heck yeah I had to go.
My initial thought when I saw the battalion of police in riot gear separating the Boys in Black from the protestors that had gathered to scream invective at them was that the First Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees free speech and the right to peaceably assemble to petition for redress of grievances can be a problematic thing under circumstances such as these.
My second thought as I blew into my hands to ward off the cold was that if I were to choose between right wing nutbar extremist groups, I would choose to be a Klansman on a day like yesterday. After all, the KKK gets to wear robes and hoods and they burn crosses. That would provide some warmth at least.
So what happened? Not much and that was undoubtedly due to the overwhelming presence of law enforcement. There would be no repeat of Charlottesville on their watch. And thank God for that. Because I got the distinct impression that both sides were trying to incite the other to do something stupid.
The Nazis-all 13 of them-mocked the protestors as Communists and crazies who were out to deny them their rights of free speech. They reminded me for all the world of the mouthy clown at the fair who sits in the chair over a vat of water while he insults the contestants who are throwing baseballs at the bullseye that will cause the trap door to open beneath him. The discourse was about as sophisticated.
So what were the Nazis protesting? There were speeches about Afrikaners losing their farmland which I wouldn't think would be much of a hot button topic around these parts. But their main beef, as far as I could tell, was how the two party system in this country was rigged against the working man. Indeed, they referred to both Hillary and Trump as products of the bourgeoisie. They used that word. I don't rightly know if anybody else there was fascinated at the notion of Nazis spouting Marxist rhetoric. But I was.
As far as the opposition went, they just hated the Nazis. They were mostly young folks. Their signage was all over the place. Rights for Immigrants. Down with hate. Feminists. LGTBQ. Remember the Holocaust. One thing you can say about the other guys. They don't have focus issues.
And the things the guys at the barricades yelled at the guys on the steps caused me to blush. And I have a pretty high threshold for what I consider to be the unspeakably vile . I felt sorry for the cops that had to listen to it. Not because the insults were directed at them but because some things ain't worth it even at time and a half.
A fellow civilian who joined me there for a bit said she saw some Antifa flags. Maybe so. I wouldn't know Antifa from Auntie Mame. But if they were there they are idiots. And the Nazis that graced our town yesterday were a bunch of punks with a confused ideology who probably couldn't be counted on to knock over a lemonade stand.
I call it a draw.
Somebody asked me last night if I felt as if I were in any danger while I was out there exercising my 1st Amendment rights to take pictures and to generally make a nuisance of myself.
"Yes," I said. "These young kids chain smoke like crazy. I didn't think I would get my ass kicked. But I thought I might asphyxiate. Or acquire second hand lung cancer."
The Nazis likely convinced nobody to join their team. The Antifa types didn't scare them off. It was pointless political theatre fought to a draw under the adult supervision of the LRPD and Capitol Police.
Just sound and fuhrer signifying nothing you might say.