Silence can implicate us. It can make us complicit when we know something is wrong, but we do not speak up against the wrong.
We all know extreme cases of that – Nazi Germany, to name one.
On Jan. 17, many St. Joseph residents woke up to see “White Nationalist” posters stapled to telephone poles. Similar posters have been popping up throughout the greater St. Cloud area.
Posters of that ilk were plastered everywhere in Germany during the rise of Nazism. The ones in St. Joseph were obviously influenced by vile Nazi sloganeering. For instance, the “cross” on the posters, with its spiky arm extensions, looks as if it’s about to morph into a Nazi swastika. The faces of the man and woman on one of the posters looks as if they came directly from Nazi propaganda drawings – the blonde sculpted Aryan look, their eyes fixed upon the horizon of the future – members of the so-called “Master Race” as it was ludicrously envisioned by Adolf Hitler and his vicious propagandists and goon squads.
The posters contain phrases from the white-nationalist chants heard in Charlottesville, Va. during the demonstrations there in which a racist murderer slammed his car into a group of people, killing a young woman.
Some of the blunt poster sentences are these:
“We have a right to exist.”
“You will not replace us.”
“It’s okay to be white.”
“There are 2 genders.”
“Hate speech is free speech.”
Then there is a preposterous sentence, which is not really a sentence. Typically, white nationalists are not very well educated, in grammar or anything else for that matter.
The wannabe sentence states: “You expect to be sheltered from ideas that challenge your narrow world view, well prepare to be triggered.”
Here we have a group of people who are anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-Jewish, anti-LGBTQ, and this group is telling the rest of us that we are “sheltered from ideas,” that we have a “narrow world view.” It’s almost funny because look who’s talking. The words warn us that we will be “triggered.” (no doubt a veiled threat of being shot). Or do they mean to gas us all?
Why do those people feel so insecure? Why do they feel so threatened by diversity, by people whose skin happens to be darker than theirs? Why do they wrap themselves in such hatreds? Is there anything they do like, besides themselves? Why can’t they welcome the diversity that is an underlying strength of America and always has been.
Ray Sjogren, a St. Joseph resident, took it upon himself to take down the posters, as did St. Joseph police because putting posters on telephone poles is not allowed.
“If we’re silent then we’re complacent,” Sjogren said.
Yes, complacent and complicit.
Thank you, Mr. Sjogren; thank you, police officers.
Let’s all speak up against the neo-Nazi garbage.
A good way to counter that crap is to donate to UniteCloud, a website started by Natalie Ringsmuth of Waite Park that promotes kindness, understanding, diversity and equality among all the good people who live and work here.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.