A Day Like Any Other

The only time I saw the Rev. Martin Luther King up close was on July 25, 1965. I was 14 years old. My parents took me and my brothers and sister to listen to him speak on the Winnetka Village Green.

Winnetka then had been for years and would continue to be the wealthiest or second-wealthiest city in the country, trading off with Scarsdale.

I remember seeing Dr. King from the side — his right side — from about 60 feet away, then worming my way up until I was about 20 feet away from him. I don’t remember a word he said that day, but I can see him still, one Black man illuminating a crowd of white people about equal housing and civil rights and our country’s promises.

What I remember most of all, though, is Illinois Nazis parading around in a tight little circle off to one side of the green, protected by cops: black and white swastikas on their armbands, marching in lockstep in their cute little Nazi khakis. 

According to the Winnetka Historical Society: “The only reported incident involved four young men from Chicago wearing khaki uniforms with swastikas and brandishing picket signs with messages such as ‘Integration Stinks.’ The four were quickly surrounded by hundreds of disapproving spectators. When Winnetka Police Chief Don Derning informed them that he could not spare the manpower needed to provide security for them, they agreed to leave before Dr. King arrived.”

None of those details are true.

There were more than four young Nazis. Nor do we know that they came from Chicago. Nor were they “surrounded by hundreds of disapproving spectators.”

The crowd ignored them.

The Nazis just marched around in their little circle, swastikas on their arms.

It’s true that at one point a police officer called a Nazi aside and told him that the police didn’t have enough officers to protect them. At which point the Nazis skedaddled out of there, in their cute little uniforms. 

Having just graduated from 8th grade, I knew what Nazis were. I asked my Mom why the police were protecting Nazis.

She told me about free speech and the First Amendment, though my father had memorized the eye-test chart so he could enlist in World War II to fight Nazis, during which he became a master sergeant.

So: My Mom didn’t think there was anything wrong with our cops protecting Nazis, though she hated everything Nazis were, and stood for.

That’s where, when and how I got my first clue about civil rights.

Now we are seeing this pretentious little play again, in the halls of the U.S. Congress and across our nation.

The Republicans parading around are epitomized by that awful woman from Georgia and the one from my own state of Colorado. I will not write their names because I do not want to contribute to their thrills: Seeing their names in print.

They don’t care if they getting anything done, or whether it’s for well or good: They just want to see their names in print.

On the way to … what? 

Women of course, as usual, have less power in this than men. Republican congressmen and senators — too numerous to name — are even more vomitous than those two congresswomen.

I don’t want to help these crapulous congressmen and senators achieve orgasm by mentioning their names in print, except for one: Sen. Mitch McConnell, who said this week that corporations should “stay out of politics … except for donations.”

Well, there it is. Give us your money, but don’t try to vote.

As the great, late Nipsey Russell said: “I’d write you a song for this, (Mitch), but the notes on the piano don’t go that low.”

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