Hate has always existed in America,” according to an article in last week’s issue of the American journal Time Magazine.
Hatred has existed in every country. But what the magazine was referring to in particular was the special right-wing variety associated with being anti-Jewish and anti-coloured, and in favour of white supremacy and the Nazi Party.
It puzzles some of us that America can boast of being “The land of the free” while at the same time it contains such a number of people in favour of totalitarianism.
New Zealanders old enough to remember the Second World War may recall hearing about the pro-Nazi Catholic priest who spoke each week on the radio in the USA. He was Father Charles Coughlan, who said: “When we get through with the Jews in America, they’ll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.”
In those days pro-Nazi groups held huge rallies at Madison Square Garden. One sponsored by the German-American Bund in February 1939 featured a 20,000-strong crowd chanting cries of “Heil Hitler.”
And then, of course, there was the American aviation hero Charles Lindbergh who spoke at Nazi rallies because he wanted the USA to stay out of the war against Hitler.
What appeared especially alarming last week was not the knowledge of extremist right-wing groups—they have existed since the days when Americans thought it was all right to slaughter people with red skins and enslave those of the black-skinned variety.
No, what worried many people was the indication that an American President is now sympathetic to their cause.
Certainly Trump on occasion was critical of his Nazi followers, but then he prevaricated and said there were “faults on both sides”.
As if there was more than one side to a conflict between Nazis who idolise Adolf Hitler and Americans who fought against the storm troopers.
Trump should realise it is not enough to be non-racist. One should be anti-racist. Is there hate in America? Of course there is.
But despite Trump, and despite the KKK, we should not overlook the fact that there is far more love than hate in that vast country.
The majority of Americans are freedom-loving, charitable, and kindly-disposed.