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We all must work to eliminate the politics of hate and violence from our national dialogue

REUTERS
The tragic events in Charlottesville continue to reverberate through the country.

In a widely circulated video from this weekend, LeBron James stated, "We all know what happened in Charlottesville and the divide that caused. Now it’s hitting home for me because [Trump] is using sports as a platform to divide us.” A similar sentiment was expressed two weeks ago by Margana Wood, the Miss America contestant from Texas who said that the violence in Charlottesville was “the number one issue right now," and should have been condemned by the president much earlier.

Rep. Frank Hornstein

The tragic events in Charlottesville continue to reverberate through the country. President Trump's reaction to Charlottesville, and now his description of professional athletes who protest for racial justice as "sons of bitches," should erase any doubts that the president himself has played a large role in unleashing latent strains of bigotry and racism in America.

After Charlottesville, I thought of my late parents, both Holocaust survivors, and wondered whether they would have ever expected to see these events unfold in 21st-century America. Particularly, a large rally of torch bearing neo-Nazis chanting, "Jews will not replace us!” as they marched past a synagogue and threatened to burn it down. Violent threats directed at a Jewish house of worship are frightening enough, but how might my parents have reacted knowing that this and other incidents of hate mongering were not unequivocally condemned by a sitting American president?

An Auschwitz survivor's perspective

I turned to two nonagenarians, members of America's greatest generation, to gauge their reactions to Charlottesville in order to better understand how my mother and father might have viewed recent events. My first call was to Dr. Anna Ornstein, 90, a Hungarian-born survivor of Auschwitz, and close family friend. Her late husband, Paul, was my father's best friend growing up in the small, dusty Hungarian town of Hajdúnánás near the Ukrainian border. Paul, Anna and my parents immigrated to Ohio together after World War II.

Ornstein is a child psychiatrist and has written extensively about her Holocaust experience. She often shares her story to school-age students. Anna told me that in these times her message to young people is focused on the importance of safeguarding democracy. "I tell the students: Every one of you is responsible for democracy, your vote matters, and you must exercise that privilege.”

It is the fraying of American democracy that is of special concern to Ornstein. She sees Charlottesville as "awakening latently present" tendencies toward racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia in America, and that the country is, as Ornstein sees it, "sliding down a slippery slope where free speech and basic freedoms could be at risk."

She never anticipated having to worry about the health of American democracy.

'There was a resemblance'

I also dialed up a former legislative colleague, Minnesota State Rep. Bernie Lieder, at his home in Crookston, Minnesota. Lieder, 94, is best known in Minnesota politics for cobbling together an unlikely urban-rural coalition to pass a major transportation infrastructure funding bill in 2008 after the collapse of the I-35W bridge. During World War II, Lieder served in the 102nd Army Infantry Division and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was also in a forward unit that liberated several forced labor camps, including the infamous Gardelagen camp, where the Nazis herded prisoners into a barn and burned them alive ahead of the Allied advance. Lieder was among the first people to come upon the still smoldering corpses.

What struck Lieder most about Charlottesville were the sheer number of Nazi sympathizers on hand and the symbols they carried. "In the past there have been reports of incidents with Nazi-oriented groups, but I never thought it would get to this level," he said. Lieder was particularly disturbed by the televised images of the American Nazis and Klansmen. "There was a resemblance, the marching in columns, the torches and the uniforms."

Lieder, with his 26 years of legislative experience, knows politics and elections well. He was quick to point out that "part of Trump's base is made up of these people."

They've seen the worst, and are worried

Ornstein and Lieder have both have seen the worst in humanity and have made part of their life’s mission to tell their story. Because they've witnessed such horror, they're better able to cherish the promise of America and value its democratic traditions and freedoms. But if they are worried about what they are seeing in the country today, that's all the more cause for all of us to worry too.

To honor their lives, and the lives of those lost in World War II, and to honor the young people who are trying to shine a light on injustice today, we all must work to ensure that the politics of hate and violence is eliminated from our national dialogue. The life of our democracy hangs in the balance.

Frank Hornstein, of Minneapolis, is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and a fellow at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University.

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Comments (48)

At least the title of the article is good.

It doesn’t work to say you want to end hate but blame only the other side.

That is the problem with today’s discussions. There is no self-reflection, no making oneself better. We fail to scrutinize our own kind while pointing fingers at the other side, waiting for them to change. There is plenty of blame to go around no matter which side you are on.

The article is pure politics at its core.

Um no

When one side is Nazis, and the other side are people who oppose Nazis, there is no other side at fault. There is only one bad side.

When he wasn't slaughtering

When he wasn't slaughtering his own people, Stalin opposed Nazis, bigly.

Opposing Nazis

Being a "premature anti-fascist" used to be a sign that one was a dangerous subversive. It could get you hauled in and investigated.

To extend on Mr. Senker’s

To extend on Mr. Senker’s post, communists killed more people than Nazis…

Numbers?

How many people have communists killed in the US?

How many people have been killed by the KKK?

The topic is Nazis, RB,

The topic is Nazis, RB, Nazis.

But OK, let's play.

April 1919, 36 bombs were mailed by Communists to politicians, including Attorney General of the United States, judges, businessmen and FBI agent, R.W. Finch.

June 1919, 8 bombs, far bigger than those mailed in April, exploded almost simultaneously in several U.S. cities. The bombs contained up to 25lbs of dynamite; all were wrapped with metal fragments designed to act as shrapnel.

Between 1920 and 1945, Communist spies were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.

Between 1973 - 1974, a radical Communist group known as the Symbonese Liberation Army killed three people, placed pipe bombs under police cars, had three major shoot-outs with police. One of the fugitives was captured in St. Paul, MN, and several leftist politicians lobbied for her release.

To attempt to equate the KKK with Communists as killing machines is absolutely laughable.

Hundreds! Many!

Once again, Curtis is all over the crimes of commies, because everyone is picking on the right wing (It's so unfair!).

You have not given any real examples to back up your argument. The 1919 bombings (98 years ago, by most reliable counts) were by anarchists, not communists (Do you not know the difference? There many online resources that can help). If you want to be precise about it (as you seem to be by distinguishing between the KKK and the Nazis), some people were injured by these bombs but no one was killed.

"Between 1920 and 1945, Communist spies were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans." I cannot help but admire that level of intellectual precision.

If you think the Symbionese Liberation Army was communist, then you really do not know what the word means.

Perhaps we can look at how many more people were killed by right-wing terrorism. How many people did Timothy McVeigh kill? Of course, he was not a "Nazi," and what about those college kids wearing Che t-shirts, but I believe his crimes merit some disapproval. A researcher at the Cato Institute counts 219 deaths caused by nationalist or right-wing terrorism since 1992, vs. 23 caused by left-wing terrorists.

"To attempt to equate the KKK with Communists as killing machines is absolutely laughable." It's hard to count the number of deaths attributable to the Klan, both because the group's members operate in secret (probably because hateful left-wingers would pick on them without pausing first to reflect on the crimes of Stalin), as well as because the Klan has gone through several iterations over the years. Nevertheless, their body count is higher than the butcher's bill you've tried to cobble together. In any event, the Klan occupies a different position than communists or left-wing fringe groups. The Klan exercised an immense influence over American political life, especially though not exclusively in the South, for decades. Its policies remain an easy sell to many Americans (just as those who are sympathetic to Nazis have been able to worm their way into official or unofficial roles of influence). You can't exactly say that about the SLA, can you?

Klan...erm, I mean iterations

Klan...erm, I mean iterations of the klan! Uh, no...right wing terrorists. Yeah those!

Give it up, RB. The undisputed world heavy-weight champions of human slaughter, terrorism and suffering are Communists (proper and in their various iterations). It's not even close.

It's OK to admit you're wrong; there is another issue coming up right around the corner, and you can start fresh.

Cheers.

Going Global

Since we're going not merely historical but global, you may want to remember that more Americans died in our war against Fascism and Nazism than died in our wars against Communism. Your deflection is a highly efficient way of insulting that sacrifice.

Why do we count Americans

Why do we count Americans only? It is more logical to count the victims in the world in which case communists have no equal. The hate kills and class hatred (meaning proletariat hating bourgeoisie) kills just as easily as racial hatred. Reality is that Nazis do not hold power anywhere in the world and is a lost cause with really very few followers, just like the KKK, and therefore do not pose any danger, as I pointed out in my other post. Communists, on the other hand, rule many countries now, including the most populous in the worlds, and still have appeal if you consider Venezuela and how many young people in America do not think communism is bad…

Yes, you win.

Because Stalin opposed the Nazis, there can be no moral distinction between those who advocate genocide and those who oppose it.

Genocide may be based on race

Genocide may be based on race or it can be based on class…

Of course it can.

And it can be based on killing everyone who’s left-handed. Whoever the authoritarians determine is best demonized to advance their own purposes. Your point is unclear.

We’re witnessing a worldwide thrust of authoritarianism, which always has a trajectory toward oppression and then genocide. Supporting that thrust and opposing it are not morally equivalent.

“We’re witnessing a worldwide

“We’re witnessing a worldwide thrust of authoritarianism, which always has a trajectory toward oppression and then genocide. Supporting that thrust and opposing it are not morally equivalent.” Yes, I agree, but I do not see many authoritarians targeting people based on their left-handedness; I do see many targeting people based on class, as socialist ideology dictates. You refuse to acknowledge it which was my point.

I did nazi that coming...

Not sure where I said Nazis or Stalin were awesome, but thanks for making it clear that they were not awesome.

The title said we 'all' must work to eliminate the ‘politics of hate’ then goes on to talk only of the right. He was speaking to the same crowd that made the ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ comments that followed. The article did not foster discussion.

Where in the article does the author even attempt to include the ‘we’ part of making ‘our’ dialogue better? It should say ‘they’ should make ‘their’ dialogue better. Then we could all jump on the bandwagon together.

Pure politics, as the comments (i.e., dialogue) section is proving.

Watching nutcases playing

Watching nutcases playing Nazi was offputting, to say the least. But their hate is no less corrosive than a lot of the rhetoric that has come from the left the past decade or so.

A quick, cursory audit of Minnpost comments from the past 3 - 4 months reaped 26 instances where leftist commentators made derogatory remark towards "white men".

Singling people out by race is racism, period. Seperating two sexes into warring camps is nothing but muckraking.

If we want to ever reach a point where we judge one another by the content of our character, not immutable traits, *everyone* is going to have to put the work in.

Personally, I don't have a lot of hope we are ready yet.

Complete Nonsense

Comparing the garbage spewed by the right to rhetoric from the left is complete nonsense. The GOP made a Faustian bargain decades ago and it has resulted in our current situation. They have thrived on dog whistles and white resentment at the expense of our country. The Democrats aren't free from criticism either, but the GOP has a long history of using divisive rhetoric to win elections. Trump is the logical conclusion of their rhetoric.

Acknowledging race is not racist. Race has been an issue in this country since the beginning and not acknowledging race means we will never be able to fix the problems in this country.

I disagree with the use of "white men" because it is needlessly divisive but that doesn't mean their point is wrong. Race continues to be an issue in this country because we don't acknowledge our racial issues. Since this country is still majority white I think it is fair to say that a big problem we have is that white people want to pretend we live in a "color blind" society when we don't.

"I disagree with the use of

"I disagree with the use of "white men" because it is needlessly divisive but that doesn't mean their point is wrong."

Ha! I swear, I have heard that *exact same* reasoning from genuine, unapologetic racists in reference to derogatory names for black people vs. their "point".

I couldn't have crafted a better example of what I'm talking about, sir. Many thanks.

This is just more false

This is just more false equivalence

Better to keep quiet

Pro-Nazi, pro-KKK, anti-Nazi, anti-KKK. It's so hard for a reasonable thinking American citizen to decide who's right because "both sides" hate and commit violence. Better to keep quiet and try to ignore all the injustice, corruption and racism, because objecting to it and especially standing up in public against it is just as full of hate and violence as marching in a pro-Nazi, pro-KKK parade with burning torches and Nazi flags. You just can't talk with anyone who thinks there's injustice, corruption or racism in America today anyway. They just refuse to see it's all just "identity politics" by people playing the "race card" trying to make white people feel guilty.

So, right. There's no self-reflection, no making oneself better. I'll just keep my mouth shut and wait for the Nazi's and KKK to come to their senses on their own. I'm sure after quiet self-reflection they'll soon come to realize how terrified they make others feel and how their actions contribute to the inequality, racism, injustice and oppression that persist in this country.

Now here is an .....

effort to make an educated comment with background on the dangerous social climate we have at hand today. Mr Hornstein has done a great deal of %”reflection” on the issues confronting us and the consequence. As I read the commentary reactions I am puzzled wether others posting have throughly read the article. Or maybe I can infer a side has been chosen by some and it would not be the benevolent side but the malevolent position. Siding with fascism is not the choice to make. Fascism is not the opposite political position from socialism. Free market would be that economic category. Neither Hitler nor Stalin practice free market policies. To continually throw that out is a false flag. The ultimate question that reflection should bring us to is how well are we practicing humanitarianism ? By diverting away from that to national patriotism we truly ignoring the hearts and souls of others. I will have time to pledge an alligence or wave or salute a piece of cloth after the four freedoms are full filled for all. I cannot eat a flag nor can I pay rent with a pledge. And do not tell me about how hard work pays off for all.

I suggest we look at this

I suggest we look at this rationally. The Charlottesville rally that was supposed to "unite the right" gathered a few hundred people. They tried to have a rally in front of Lenin's statue in Seattle to demand its removal and got seven people attending (by the way, shouldn't we all demand that it must be removed?) There are always way more counter protesters at neo-Nazis demonstrations than neo-Nazis (in Boston they outnumbered participants 100 to 1). And they are afraid to be exposed and cry when they are. In other words, they are pathetic so what is it to be worried about?

We should, however, worry about other things. As you may know, there are more anti-Semitic hate crimes in America than hate crimes directed against any other religion, including Islam. Considering the number of the ultra-right in this country, I can guess that most of them are not perpetrated by the neo-Nazis. Then by whom? Well, maybe by those young people who shut down Jewish groups and speakers on college campuses and who associate Zionism with racism and Nazism...

Or here is another reason to worry: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-millennials-freespeech-p.... Under this pretense, asking a person what country he or she came from would be offensive and therefore banned… Or think of recent events in Berkeley… So we may be “sliding down a slippery slope where free speech and basic freedoms could be at risk” but not in the direction many people think of. Can we say that part of Sanders’ base is made up of people who are against freedom of speech?

Sigh

Ilya, protesting the POLICY pursued by expansionists in Israel is not anti-Semitism, unless you are trying to suggest, by virtue of its status as a Jewish state, that Israel is beyond all reproach and criticism. That's a worldview, I suppose, but not a particularly realistic one. Israel can change its policy, at which point the criticism will end. The "people" mucking about in Charlottesville and elsewhere are clamoring for, among other odious ideals, the repression of whole groups of fellow humans, based on nothing more than the genetic coding for the levels of melanin in their epidermis, an immutable biological trait. Folks can't stop being black to appease their idiotic demands. See the difference?

Where in my post did I

Where in my post did I mention Israel? Anyway, protesting specific Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitic by any means… unless the same policies of other states are not protested. And saying that Zionism – a Jewish nationalist movement equivalents of which among all other nations are always praised – is the same as Nazism is anti-Semitic. And of course, singling Jewish groups and speakers on campuses is anti-Semitic.

Now, about “The "people" mucking about in Charlottesville and elsewhere are clamoring for, among other odious ideals, the repression of whole groups of fellow humans, based on nothing more than the genetic coding for the levels of melanin in their epidermis, an immutable biological trait.” First, they also (and maybe even more) promote repression of Jews including in Israel (ultra-right also protest Israel’s policies, as you may know, just read Pat Buchanan). And second, communists promoted repression on the basis of class – shouldn’t we talk about that as well?

If anyone is interested in

If anyone is interested in learning more about hate groups such as neo-Nazis, KKK, and others, this may help: www.cnn.com/2017/08/14/politics/charts-explain-us-hate-groups/index.html.

Thank you

Thank you Rep Hornstein for sharing the voices of these wise elders who know what happens when we don't uphold our end of the civic bargain. These Days of Awe should give all of us a chance to reflect on how we can stand together against the resurfacing of Nazi ideology and hatred.

We should also stand firm against the false equivalencies from the White House to the stadium to the columns of MinnPost. There are not good people on both sides and simply using racial descriptors in a statement does not make you a practitioner of racial hatred.

All Americans would benefit from stopping to listen to the voices of Hornstein, Ornstein, and Lieder who have seen the ultimate evil walking the earth and want to save us from a revisit.

Guess

The real problem is we can't agree on a common set of values!
But calling certain populations rapists and murder's, and giving a pass to folks wanting to exterminate certain religions and or races isn't a good start for folks like me! That isn't a political movement to get behind from this perspective. Perhaps someone can show me where the common ground is when the other folks goal is to exterminate me and my kind! Maybe as someone commented earlier we should just let the kids play and they'll grow out of it.Kind of like Pol-pot, Idi Amin etc. etc. etc.

Interestingly, you mentioned

Interestingly, you mentioned Pol Pot and Idi Amin – two communist dictators… Just proves my point that communism as ideology is much more dangerous than KKK’s… No one here (and actually, very few in the country, as I pointed out) supports Nazis and KKK. All we are asking is to admit that communism is more dangerous and we all should fight its hatred as well. That would be a common set of values we can all agree on…

Say what?

The point had nothing to do with communist dictators!

"VALUES"

Of course it does because we

Of course it does because we already agree on what’s bad as most decent people. But bad things are bad whether they come from Nazis or Communists - that has been my point all along.

Sorry:

No we don't all agree:
That is the heart/focus of the article.

Do you mean those 0.1% or

Do you mean those 0.1% or even less who sympathize with neo-Nazis and KKK? They are irrelevant (see my post above) and WE all agree that they are bad. But young people don’t mind communism http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/10/18/millennials-communism_n_12550502... and that is scary. All I am saying is that communism as an ideology in general is no better than Nazism and is more dangerous now because it has plenty of people who believe in it.

Have:

No idea where you are going or why.
Please re-read the article:
What I mean is: "Values" the discussion should be about your values vs. my values, and rationally see if we can determine if there is a: logical, reasonable, politically acceptable, agreement, where those values conjoin, I think that is what Rep Hornstein is discussing. Way before we get to fringe etc. etc. etc.

Example: We are hearing of gun owners begging other gun owners to get some rationale movement to stop the mass murdering of Americans, Do we have a common value that says, we have way to much murder and gun violence in America, or are we OK with saying that is the price of the 2nd amendment? Children at Sandy hook are part of the price as well as 59 dead and 500 wounded, etc. etc. My personal right to own massive killing machines is more valuable than your right to lower the probability of getting killed by a mass murderer or random killer.

As I said, we do have the

As I said, we do have the same value – the author, you, I, and I would guess all Minnpost readers: Violence is bad, dictatorship is bad, freedom is good, democracy is good - this is a simple part. Now, we need to agree on where to apply our values. Again, we all agree that our common values lead us to conclusion that neo-Nazis, KKK, and their supporters are bad and we have to do what we can to counter their message and actions. Now a difficult part: The same common values must lead us to conclusion that Antifa, socialists, and their supporters are also bad and we have to counter their message as well. Not only that, but we should recognize that neo-Nazis and KKK are not powerful and/or influential - in America or the world, while socialists are, which makes them more dangerous, at least for the moment. That is what I was saying.

“Do we have a common value that says, we have way to much murder and gun violence in America.” Of course we do (how many times have you heard people saying we need more violence). The values are not a problem; it is a solution or a policy to uphold these values that people diverge about… But that’s another topic..

But ...

the discussion is not about the icorrect implementation of socio-economic policy somewhere else even tho there have been successful socialist nations. The article is about what is happening here in the USA and the potential for the rise of a dictatorship here.

Again with the moral bankruptcy

Don't fault the Nazi's, Stalin was worse? Again, the atrocities of one person or government cannot diminish or mitigate the atrocities of another. Any claims along this line of reasoning simply betray a severely damaged moral compass. Since we don't have Stalinite's marching in our streets and killing people Stalin's atrocities although real, are a moot point. Anyone who tries to convert a conversation about the KKK, Slavery, or Nazis, who are/were directly responsible for the deaths, suffering and oppression of millions of people in United Sates; into a platform to condemn Stalin, is playing a debate game that is devoid of moral competency.

“the atrocities of one person

“the atrocities of one person or government cannot diminish or mitigate the atrocities of another.” Absolutely. So we cannot pay attention to only one group that has committed atrocities and not the other… And we should consider more contemporary danger, not what happened 200 years ago or what has no mass appeal whatsoever…

200 years ago...

200 years ago Communism didn't exist, but slavery in America did. Stalin has been dead for over sixty years and even the Soviets ended up denouncing him. Stalin has no contemporary relevance in the current conversation. The idea that Stalin could in any way be more or even as relevant as contemporary Nazis and other sundry white supremacists in the US today is an absurd proposition. You can talk about Stalin if you want, but no one is required to take that conversation seriously. Any attempt to pretend that Stalin is in some way relevant, simply betrays a complete lack of understanding regarding the moral dilemma's facing the United States today.

Of course Stalin is relevant now.

Putin has been working to rehabilitate him for some time, and he is coming much back into vogue among the Russian authoritarians and their Trump-supporting acolytes here in the U.S.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/stalin-rises-again-over-p...

One infers that Mr. Gutman must think of Stalin as a leftist, through some process of analytical reasoning I must leave it to him to explain. Stalin was a garden-variety, though highly productive, authoritarian genocidist and hence a natural inspiration for the tiki-torch wielders from whom Mr. Gutman endeavors to deflect criticism.

Charles...

You're confusing a national dialogue in Russia with a dialogue under way in the US. Trump likes Putin, Putin likes Stalin, therefore we can't talk about Trump without talking about Stalin? Bit of a stretch dude. We don't have to go to Russia in order to understand the racism and bigotry we're confronting here at home, and it's unlikely that such a journey would really add any insight to our dialogue. In fact, I think conflating Russia's problems with our own would just obscure the national dialogue. Trump doesn't sympathize with racists because he's a Stalinist, he sympathizes with racists because he's a racist.

Yes and no.

Paul - As my comment earlier in the thread makes clear, I agree with you completely that invoking Stalin to place present neo-Nazis on the same moral plane as those who protest them is a non sequitur. But I also did not want to let pass the implication that Stalin murdered millions in the name of leftist progressivism. Perhaps the irony in my comment title slipped by you.

That said, I see present events in a broader frame than perhaps you do. Put simply, at the beginning, we’re all authoritarian followers: frightened by what’s outside our clan and wanting security above all else. The task of creating and expanding civilization is about turning authoritarian followers into democrats fast enough to establish norms and institutions sufficient to withstand the assault against collective power by those seeking it for themselves, and to deprive them of the materiel - in the form of remaining authoritarian followers - sufficient to dislodge the institutions and norms that have been built.

For various reasons, not only has the pace of democrat creation slowed, but very recently outposts of incipient democracy are collapsing back into authoritarianism at what seems to be an accelerating pace - "the center cannot hold." At a global level, this is due most importantly to the success of the few over the past 50 years in appropriating surplus social and economic capital, so that it is not available for those in the more developed parts of the world to invest in expanding democracy domestically and globally. This has led to economic distress among the many, resource conflicts, wars and instability, refugee flows, and the like - all of which serve to accelerate the recruitment of authoritarian followers.

The particulars by which democrats or potential democrats collapse back into authoritarianism vary from society to society; in the U.S., it is principally due to a political party that, for decades, has as its chief electoral strategy cultivated authoritarian followers by creating false enemies of racial and other forms; I don’t see racism here - at least its persistence - as an essential phenomenon, but rather as one intended outcome of the authoritarian appeal. But the authoritarian counterinsurgency is a global phenomenon, a global threat to human civilization, and something that needs to be repelled globally if humanity is to have a chance. So the rehabilitation of Stalin in Russia is not irrelevant to racism in the U.S.

Can you please give an

Can you please give an example of how Stalin is coming back among “Trump-supporting acolytes here in the U.S?”

Stalin ruled the Soviet Union which was declared a socialist state and was a socialist state according to socialism definition; socialism is a left-wing ideology, ergo, Stalin was a leftist. It’s pretty simple, really, to explain. On the other hand, “tiki-torch wielders” are self-identified and neo-Nazis; Nazi Germany fought a war with Socialist Soviet Union and Hitler and Stalin were mortal enemies (which doesn’t mean that one of them was good and another one was bad) so it is strange, to say the least, to assume that Stalin was an inspiration for neo-Nazis…

And finally, I do not want to deflect criticism from the neo-Nazis. Criticism is not a zero sum game so criticizing Antifa does not reduce criticism of the neo-Nazis.

I can call my dog an elephant

But that doesn’t make her one. The Soviet Union was bureaucratic capitalism under a strongly authoritarian political structure. There is no reason why two authoritarian states cannot be mortal enemies, especially when one is staging a military invasion of the other. And socialism is not an "ideology." It is a form of economic and social organization that, according to a broad school of political economy, a society will tend to assume as it reaches a certain stage of development. Forms of economic collectivism introduced by authoritarian means may rest on some humanist motivation, but by definition they cannot be socialist, regardless of what their sponsoring authoritarians choose to call them.

And of course criticizing Antifa deflects criticism of the neo-Nazis, because it is moral leveling. You critique both in the same breath, apparently on the ground that both are willing to engage in street-level violence. But the moral objection to the neo-Nazis and others of their constellation is not their uncivil behavior during street demonstrations, it is that they are working to break down civilization and create conditions for genocide.

Your example is very good:

Your example is very good: You can call your dog an elephant but it will not make it one because there are scientific definitions of dogs and elephants; for example, elephants have trunks and dogs don’t. So you can call the Soviet Union a “bureaucratic capitalism” but it won’t change anything because socialism is defined economically as government ownership of land and means of production while capitalism is defined through private ownership; and in the Soviet Union government owned everything so by definition is was a socialist state. Of course, there has never been a non-dictatorial socialist state in history but that just proves my main point.

Of course two authoritarian states can fight each other but it is impossible for presumed supporters of one of those states to say that the leader of the other is their inspiration. And surely socialism, as a precursor to communism, is an ideology – I spent 15 years in school in the Soviet Union where they tried to brainwash me. Or read what Chavez or Maduro are saying – it is pure ideology.

“But the moral objection to the neo-Nazis and others of their constellation is not their uncivil behavior during street demonstrations, it is that they are working to break down civilization and create conditions for genocide.” First of all, I have moral objections to people breaking windows and beating other people and I hope you do, too. Second, Antifa is “by and large socially leftist and anti-capitalist” (from USA Today) and “far-left” (from CNN) and far-left anti-capitalist ideology is what the Soviet Union and all other socialist regimes are based on. So obviously, people with far-left anti-capitalist views have created conditions for genocide (and committed genocide) many times in the past (Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot…). I also want to point out that the far-left dictators committed genocide in the very recent past and still do (North Korea) while there are no examples of far-right dictators doing it in the last 60 years. In fact, there have been no neo-Nazi dictators after the WWII.. So doesn’t it make sense to pay more attention to more contemporary, more powerful, and more influential ideology than to the one that is dead for all practical purposes? As I already pointed out, young people don’t mind communism http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/10/18/millennials-communism_n_12550502... and that is scary.

"I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means"

The only parameter that I know of to cogently define the left-right political spectrum is the distribution of political power - with the theoretical left pole as consensus, the theoretical right pole as all power concentrated in one person, and leftism in the center. It is unclear what parameter you use that allows you to locate genocidal authoritarians on the left. But to suggest that the greatest threat to freedom is that younger people are not overly hostile to “communism,” a theoretical mode of social organization that never has and never will exist outside of small intentional communities, and not the authoritarianism presently sweeping the formerly democratic societies of the world, with the instigation of hatreds, oppression and violence that always accompanies it, is, shall we say, nonsensical.

Socialism is defined not as government ownership of the means of production, but as collective ownership of the means of production. Substantial difference.

“The only parameter that I

“The only parameter that I know of to cogently define the left-right political spectrum is the distribution of political power - with the theoretical left pole as consensus, the theoretical right pole as all power concentrated in one person.” Very interesting – where did you get this definition? So North Korea is an ultimate right pole since all power is concentrated in one person? On the other hand, it is also a theoretical left pole because there is total consensus there – everyone agrees with the Supreme Leader because those who don’t are shot.

“It is unclear what parameter you use that allows you to locate genocidal authoritarians on the left.” It is very clear: if a genocidal authoritarian is saying that he is building socialism, has confiscated all private property, and declared Marx, Lenin, or Castro his models, he is on the left. So “to suggest that the greatest threat to freedom is that younger people are not overly hostile to “communism,” is totally logical since those who were trying to “build” communism killed tens of millions of people in pursuit of that idea (because those killed people were on the way of building happiness for everyone). And those regimes still exist in the world.

“authoritarianism presently sweeping the formerly democratic societies of the world, with the instigation of hatreds, oppression and violence that always accompanies it…” Can you please give some examples?

“Socialism is defined not as government ownership of the means of production, but as collective ownership of the means of production. Substantial difference.” Nope because in socialist countries government is assumed to be a continuation of people so government ownership is the same as collective ownership; government just manages it for the benefit of all people. A common refrain in the Soviet Union was “Steal every nail from work, you are a master here, not a guest.”

I never mentioned Stalin

I never mentioned Stalin specifically; I was talking about socialist and communist ideology which, unfortunately, has a lot of relevance now. Is Castro relevant? Is Chavez relevant? Is NK’s leader relevant? Name me a single neo-Nazi or KKK leader who is relevant meaning that he has power and a lot of people following him? Look at my first post here – it is neo-Nazis and KKK which are irrelevant.