There are few countries in the world that have a historical reputation like Germany.
The memory of the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazis are a massive, festering black stain on the surface of the Earth. I've been to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C.; I've listened to the testimony of survivors and seen videos and pictures of the dead.
I wrote a bit about my visit over on Medium, if you want more detail on the experience.
But most people know something about the atrocities of WWII, even if they've never been to a memorial. It's just too huge, too all-encompassing. It spanned the length of the globe and sent shockwaves through generations. We will never forget it. We must never allow ourselves to forget it.
Nobody feels the weight of that disgrace more than the country of Germany. They take it seriously.
Over the past few years, there has been an undeniable rise in neo-Nazi and White Supremacist rhetoric around the world. We've seen it in the United Kingdom, we've seen it in the United States, we've seen it here in Canada, in Australia, everywhere we turn.
The swastika is tattooed on the chests of idiot scumbags who think that their skin color makes them special; it has to, because their lives are empty otherwise.
What we haven't seen is the correct response to this glorification of genocide. A zero-tolerance crackdown. That's what we need, that's what we should see. If we don't, then the message sent to these hateful morons is that they're free to do as they like.
These people think there was nothing wrong with murdering millions of innocent human beings. Some of them think it was righteous and good. They need to see how little support they truly have in their vicious, disgusting beliefs.
They're showing the rest of us how to handle this.
Germany does not screw around. They learned the first time around when Hitler first rose to power- if you ignore it and assume it's just a fad that's never going to win support, you leave room for it to grow and take over.
Unlike the rest of the world where those memories are not quite as harrowing as literally living a few kilometers away from a concentration camp, we don't have the same instinctive revulsion as a society.
We should really take a page out of Germany's book on this front. It goes like this:
Nazis show up, Nazis get investigated. Nazi group is identified, banned, and the members are tracked down, raided and arrested.
Zero-tolerance policy. That's how it's done.
And this isn't the first time; I've spoken about a similar crackdown in one of the previous episodes of Unfiltered. Germany does not fuck around with far-right extremism because the Germans know exactly what the end result is.
You can't preach hatred and disgust towards marginalized people without it eventually spilling over into violence. You allow the spread of hate, you invite terrorism. You invite murder. You invite genocide.
This is how stochastic terrorism works. Influential figures spread misinformation and inspire their avid listeners to 'do something about it'. Fox News talks about "Black on White crime", and Dylann Roof goes to a church and murders Black people in the middle of their prayers to 'save the white race'.
Letting these ideas spread only makes them stronger. The more you repeat a lie, the more it seems like the truth. I've witnessed this in real time; I've seen people I care about go down that pipeline of propaganda and come out the other side unrecognizable.
I've seen families ripped apart by it. I've heard too many stories to count.
The more tolerant we are of this kind of intolerance, the more we allow it to be preached under the guise of free speech, the more we leave vulnerable people in danger of being swayed.
While we dither about it here, Germany is showing us how it's done. Preaching hate and bigotry is treated as seriously as it should be, and they react to it as you'd react to any threat.
It gets identified, it gets investigated, and it gets banned. That's the way it has to be.