(Editor’s Note: The Lou Bernard column posted here was intended for print in The Record of August 24. Given recent unsettling events in Virginia and elsewhere, Mr. Bernard’s column is posted here on therecord-online, which shares his distaste for recent hateful events/developments in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and now Lock Haven).
By Lou Bernard
No clever, funny column today. I don’t want to write one, and if you’re any kind of human being, you don’t want to read one.
In response to recent horrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia, flyers were posted on telephone poles in the neighborhood of South Fairview Street. Flyers promoting white supremacy. A local citizen saw them, tore them down, and reported them to the police and the city.
I’m disgusted and horrified.
Do I really need to say this is an opinion piece? Fine. For legal reasons, I’ll state for the record that this is my opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the views of anyone I write for, am employed by, volunteer for, or associate with. (I’d like to think, however, that all of these people and entities are in agreement with me.) And now, having said that, I’m going to go out on a limb and take the controversial stance that Nazis are bad.
Let’s not sugarcoat it here. I’m not going to use fuzzy-sounding terms like “alt-right” or say that maybe you have “alternate beliefs.” If you are putting up flyers promoting white supremacy, you are a Nazi, plain and simple.
In writing about history, I come up with examples over and over. Examples of intolerance rising, and good people standing up to it. The KKK did a lot of things locally in the early 1900s. They burned crosses and had rallies, and they made donations to local charities and organizations. That was the really insidious part—They came across as regular, community-minded guys, showing up to donate to schools and churches. And that was how these evil, horrible people made their disgusting behavior seem as if it wasn’t so bad.
And let me tell you something—Lock Haven is better than that. Clinton County is better than that. There are good people here, lots of good people. I know a lot of people who are good, kind citizens, people I’m proud to call my friends and neighbors.
Not the Nazis. The white supremacists, I’m disgusted by and ashamed of. They don’t deserve to live in such a great place; they don’t deserve to call themselves citizens of Clinton County.
The good people need to stand up and say that this is not okay. They have before. Back in January, I wrote a column about Merritt McCloskey, who stole and destroyed a KKK cross in an effort to stand up to racism and intolerance. In the column, I wrote,”If the time should ever come to stand up to bigotry and hateful behavior, I hope I can do it with courage and cleverness….The way Merritt McCloskey did.”
I’m doing that now. Hateful flyers were put up in my neighborhood, and I will stand against hate. This is not acceptable, and I do not accept it. If I see more flyers, I will report them. If I see anyone putting them up, I will take their photo—I usually have a camera on me. I carry one for ghost-hunting, but it’ll work just as well for catching Nazis. And I will hand the photo over to the authorities, and publicize it as best I can. If you’re a Nazi and I find you, I will let the world know what a terrible person you are.
I stand with Merritt McCloskey, who fought the KKK. I stand with the brave local soldiers who fought in World War II. I stand with anyone who wants equality in our country.
There are not two sides to this. I don’t have to try and understand the other point of view. Nazism is evil. White supremacy is evil. There’s no other way to say it.
To all the good people: Stand with me. Make your views heard. This is not okay, and we don’t have to accept it. I invite everyone to stand with me against racism.
Lock Haven is better than this.
America is better than this.
Now, help me prove it.