In this photo from Skokie, I’m the tall guy in back with cool shades and his mouth hanging open …

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Just kidding. Despite my reputation as a latter day Zelig, I was not actually present for the Skokie Klan rally and counterprotest in 1978.

Although I did visit a buddy in Skokie the week before it and encouraged him NOT to bust heads. To just show up and show solidarity. For one thing, there weren’t that many heads to bust … maybe 50 knock-kneed really dumb-sounding Klan dudes sporting the half-hood look made popular during the second resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s.

I also lost a couple friends by vehemently defending the ACLU’s decision to represent the Klan in its attempts to hold a rally. And I have not wavered in that position. An inch. With the obvious exceptions of not being able to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater or specifically call for violence against another person or group of people, my support of free speech is absolute. Both in principle – which is what makes the first amendment the cornerstone of liberty – and in practice.

The more you let the Klan types talk … especially in public and in debate … the less attractive they become to weak minds and to young unloved men searching for identity in all the wrong places. None of their ideas are evidence-based. Or logical. Or strong enough to survive the mildest debate. And most of the Klan types wilt under pressure, cringe, turn and run … not to mention whine when they lose their jobs or their Mom gets mad … so any semblance of emotional strength or emotional appeal usually fades as well.

The only time that shit seems attractive is when lit by the LED screen of a lonely viewer of Breitbart or some other online receptacle of horse manure and obvious idiocy. Alone in your room … while posting Pepe the Frog pics for the amusement of other curdled adolescents … you might imagine your pimple-assed face to be the face of a new Aryan nation.

But not in the light of day. Not in the light of Liberty.

P.S. I wasn’t happy with the way the local police handled Charlottesville. And I’m not convinced that the right of assembly always means the right to assemble exactly where you want to … e.g., I support the ability of a locality – for public safety reasons – to deny one venue and suggest an equivalent substitute. But those posts are for another day.

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