My father served in World War II, interrupting his studies at the University of Minnesota for three years of Army duty. On a hillside in Italy, he took a bullet in the leg that put him out of action.
When he returned to Chicago for further treatment, the hospital removed the stitches too early. That left a permanent deep impression in his left leg, which was slightly shriveled from the knee down.
He walked with a limp for the rest of his life, and he also drew a partial disability check from the VA until his death at the end of 1998.
Naturally, when I see alt-right groups, neo-Nazis and other right wingers carrying the Nazi flag (the one my father fought against more than 70 years ago) during rallies like the recent one in Charlottesville, Va., I get a little upset. You may understand why.
So do people like Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, who told USA Today: “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
Unfortunately, the newspaper noted, Hitler’s torch shows no sign of burning out. In the past year, it said, swastikas have appeared across the nation with a frequency that would please Hitler and confound people like Jesse Hatch. I would add Dad to that list.
If there’s one thing the inflamed rhetoric and street clashes of late show, it’s that we need history teachers more than ever to bring out the lessons of unchecked evil. Not to mention field trips to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
For people espousing patriotism and loyalty to America to be embracing the man who caused the death of more than 400,000 U.S. soldiers in World War II—plus six million Jews in Europe—defies common sense.
Of course, consumed by propaganda and misguided beliefs, extremists of any stripe are rarely convinced by logic or facts.
But that doesn’t mean we should avoid speaking out against blind hatred.
I admired the pastor’s wife from Charlottesville who penned a first-person column soon after the violent rally there.
Christine Hoover noted that instead of giving too much attention to white supremacists, she and her husband will continue to give the issue of racial division their full attention.
“We will call white supremacy what it is: sin,” she said. “We will continue building real relationships with brothers and sisters in our own community and in our own church who represent, alongside us, the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom.”
In his sermon the day after the tragedy, our pastor pointed out how God favors diversity.
For proof, he cited John’s vision in Revelation 7:9: “Then I looked. And there was a great multitude which no one could count, from all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (MEV, emphasis added).
“God not only likes diversity, He embraces it,” our pastor said. “Embracing black, white, Hispanic and illegal alien alike is part of God’s plan.”
Loving Your Brother
Years ago, I ghosted the first-person story of the late Robert “Jackey” Beavers. At the time, he was an executive assistant to then-Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris, but his claim to fame was co-authoring Diana Ross’ hit, One Day We’ll Be Together.
During one of several conversations, I asked what he thought of people who claimed to be Christians but hated people like Beavers because of his color.
He replied simply in the words of 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For whoever does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Words that disprove any alt-right sympathizer’s claims of being a Christian.