Hitler came to power by demonizing one particular, easily identified group of Germans. Weimar Germany was in shambles, and people were looking for simple answers. Hitler gave them someone to blame.
On Aug. 14, Nazis came to Knoxville preaching an age-old message: Our enemies are hiding in the shadows, poised to destroy all we hold dear. This time, their message was not too far off from what some Tennessee politicians are saying: Illegal immigrants are destroying America.
Like the Jews in Germany, "illegal" immigrants in America are easily identified by their looks, their language, and their culture. They are supposedly taking jobs from Americans during our "Jobless Recovery." And they have the added bonus of being powerless to fight back.
The Nazis are just as easily identified—and any rational American can explain to you why they are evil. It was easy for people to protest them— almost a no-brainer.
It was fun and easy to mock the Nazis. It was easy for the Germans to hate the Jews. And it's easy for politicians to go after illegal immigrants. It makes them look like they are doing something to help Americans—without having to tackle the real, very difficult problems we face. Why bother with those complicated trade agreements when we can just make a certain group of people criminals by virtue of where they were born?
I was overjoyed to see so many people turn out to show the Nazis they weren't welcome here. But it was almost too easy.
I wonder if we can summon the same energy to meet our real problems?