America is going to look back a year ago this weekend as it marks the time a riot broke out in Charlottesville, Va. It started when neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
It got real ugly when counter protesters showed up. One of the counter protesters died. One of the neo-Nazis is accused of murder.
I want to call specific attention to one of the hate groups’ symbols: the swastika.
The Confederate Stars and Bars offends me, too. The swastika, though, takes me to another level of disgust and revulsion. It symbolizes a European regime that started World War II with the aim of conquering the world.
Adolf Hitler’s tyrannical regime flew flags with that symbol while it eradicated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. It sought to subjugate nations under that tyranny.
More to the personal point about why the swastika is so revolting. Men who fought for the Nazi regime in Europe while wearing that emblem sought to kill my favorite U.S. veteran: my father.
Dad served in the U.S. Navy from early 1942 until late 1945. He saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He endured more than three consecutive months of daily aerial bombardment by German and Italian warplanes.
He damn near was killed by men flying with that swastika painted on the wings of their aircraft.
The swastika has become the symbol to this day, along with that Confederate flag, of the Ku Klux Klan; the neo-Nazis, of course, salute the swastika in the manner that it was saluted during those dark days of World War II.
How any American to this day can swear fealty to such an ideology to my mind surrenders his right to be called an American.
But … I know we live in a society that protects political speech no matter how vile it is. The swastika is as vile as it gets.