If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Nazis and Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Brotherhood, Oh, My!

Yes, those are swastikas on the flags you see in that photo. This weekend, the Nazi Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the country, came to my hometown, Kansas City, for a national gathering to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht with their pals the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Brotherhood, and Satan’s Saints, a white supremacist motorcycle gang.

I’m a lifelong activist. The FBI has a file on me from the J.Edgar Hoover days (which puts me in very good company). I’ve been teargassed in antiwar protests and had rotten tomatoes and eggs thrown at me in civil rights marches. I’ve put in my time at trying to make this a decent country for everyone, and as lupus, fibromyalgia, and severe asthma have taken a toll on me and left me needing a cane, I had decided that I was done with going out into the streets to protest or demonstrate. I figured I’d earned my time to sit peacefully at home and finish the book for which I have an impending deadline. 

Then the Nazis announced that they were coming to Kansas City. They came to KC in 2007 to celebrate Hitler’s birthday and paraded around in Nazi uniforms. I thought surely others would stand against them and no one did. So this weekend saw me downtown at City Hall facing the Jackson County Courthouse where the Nazis, KKK, and fellow travelers were supposed to bring over a thousand jackbooted thugs to parade around to celebrate the night their German forebears destroyed Jewish shops, killed many Jews, and started rounding up them (and many other minority groups) for concentration camps to begin Hitler’s Final Solution.

The same politicos who rolled out the red carpet for these Nazis, allowing them all kinds of things that we counter-ralliers were not allowed—bullhorns, ultra-large stereo speakers, microphone stands, and much more when we weren’t even allowed water bottles or purses to carry our medicine (I had to make use of Ben’s pockets for mine)—tried to keep us from protesting against them, and when they couldn’t , organized another rally miles away, effectively dividing the forces of reason for political purposes. So reluctantly, after an exhausting week of work and events every night for my husband’s job, we drove downtown early to set up for one more stand against hate.

Even with the politicians putting pressure on organizations to attend their rally safely miles away, seven hundred people arrived to stand up against the Nazis—ministers, schoolteachers, college and high school students, secretaries, longtime civil rights activists, young veterans of the Occupy movement, active-duty soldiers, grandmothers with their grandchildren, fiery young anarchists, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, white, African American, Latino, American Indian, and a few women in hijabs. What was especially gratifying to me was that the vast majority were young people.

What was not gratifying was that the police were aimed at us and apparently had orders to threaten us with teargas and pepper spray. Fortunately, none was used against us, but that’s why in some photos you will see folks with bandannas or handkerchiefs over their mouths and noses. These were the ones who’d been involved with the Occupy movement and had recent experience of being sprayed with these toxic substances. Also, a little disconcerting was the militarized appearance of the police. About six clearly marked observers for the Department of Justice circulated among us—and may have been the only reason that our peaceful gathering was not attacked by the police, who paid little attention to the Nazis, et al. 

The Nazis and white supremacists only managed to field about three dozen people instead of the thousand-plus they had threatened. When asked later by the press about the low turnout, they said that many turned back, afraid of the publicity that our counter rally had drawn and afraid that they might lose their jobs if they were publicly seen. Some dismissed that as fake excuses, but I’ve seen the membership numbers that researchers have compiled for these organizations, and I know they could easily field that many people. Therefore, I count our protest a success since it inhibited more from coming out in public.

The rhetoric was as awful as you might expect. Talk of putting all but Aryans into “subservience.” Talk of the fun they have arming with guns and going “hunting illegals” at the border, as if it were a sport. Talk of the “judaization” of America and the world and how they will “cleanse” it. But mostly it was the same rhetoric you can hear any day on talk radio or from the extremist politicians who have seized control of Congress. That was the eye-opener. They even played a recording from the 1980s of a deceased leader, and it was basically Tea Party rhetoric with some extra-nasty violence added. It underscored how far to the right our country has slid when the lines the Nazis have been spouting for decades have suddenly become the main themes of powerful elected politicians.

But the main takeaway of the day was the beautiful, diverse gathering who peacefully stood up against the haters and said, “No.” That and the heavy involvement of young people from conservatively dressed yuppie types to the heavily tattooed anarchists who placed themselves in the front lines, fully expecting teargas or pepper spray. I have had my days of depression and cynicism when I look at the way things are going, but I am newly optimistic after this glimpse of the upcoming generation, who, with all their differences, will still stand up and stand together against violence and hate.


James Montgomery Jackson said...

Whenever times are tough for average people, some "leaders" will use hate for their own purposes. With today's high unemployment and continuing pressure on the middle class from the globalization combined with the money and power grab by the rich that distorts the income distribution in the USA, I fear us-versus-them politics will be in fashion for some time.

Sometimes the clash incorporates positive attributes (think civil rights and equal rights); sometimes it bubbles over into violence (Kristallnacht in Germany, urban riots of the 1960s in the USA, or the French Revolution in the late 1700s).

Always it involves labeling the other as "evil." The Nazis did this to the Jews and Gypsies in the 1930s; the vitriolic diatribes of many conservative talk hosts so label anyone they disagree with as evil and enemies of "their" country, and, alas, the 99% movement has done it to the 1%.

These labeling process eliminates discussion and coming together to solve collective problems. It becomes a "holy war" where compromise is a sin - and Linda, you are correct that the so-called Tea Party has taken that tactic to a national level.

Fortunately, the young are much more diverse than the country as a whole and so, for me, the hope for the USA rests firmly on their shoulders.

I pray for their success.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Extremism is fueled by emotional fear and ignorance. Many people feel threatened now due to the bad economy so it isn't surprising to me that such a rally was held. I'm glad that there weren't many Nazis in attendance.

But using chemicals to subdue our own people is unconscionable. How the government can justify doing so is beyond me.

I just read an article about the "tree huggers" who saved the redwood forests. They were sprayed by pepper spray directly in their eyes. Some sued and won.

Why would the government continue to use this method when not only is in harmful, but it also costs them lots of tax dollars? Political pressure by those contributing to political campaigns I imagine. No excuses. Chemical use to control those doing what our constitution allows should be illegal.

Kudos to you and your husband, Linda, for continuing the good fight!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, you're so right. This is a longtime tactic--find or create scapegoat "Others," whip up fear and hate, and direct it against them.

And you're also right about the hope of the country resting on the young. I saw a fierce-looking, pierced, tattooed young white anarchist man gently helping an elderly, Sunday-best-dressed African American grandmother with a cane up the concrete steps and shooing others off a concrete bench so she could have a place to sit.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, that was the odd thing. the huge police presence, much larger than the Nazis ultimately, was directed against us counter-ralliers. Some people, especially the young ones, were yelling at the police after being searched and wanded and forced to make trips back to the cars to leave things like purses, cameras, water bottles that they wouldn't allow in. I tried to tell them I knew some of those police officers and this was all dictated at a much higher level.

It was interesting how they kept parading the mounted cops back and forth in front of us and had a line of cops in battle gear with big tanks of pepper spray and teargas standing facing us, but no horses once the Nazis showed up, and that line of cops never turned around to face them. I was grateful for the DOJ observers, who were only there--I think--because the ACLU has already filed suit against the city for the civil-rights-violating restrictions they placed on our rally without doing the same to the Nazis.

Sarah Henning said...

Linda, you're so amazing. It's so important to talk about the fact that hate isn't dead and we still need to stand against it.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I can't add much more than what Jim, E.B. and Sarah said. I admire you for taking the time and effort to go, and I'm pleased that they were outnumbered by those who oppose hate extremists. I recently read Elie Weisel's "Night" again for book club. Man's inhumanity to man never ceases to sicken me. Doesn't Kansas have a rather large Tea Party following? I wonder how a rally like this would go in the N.E. United States. I'm thinking they wouldn't dare organize anything like that.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sarah, I'm not amazing. I was complaining and griping the whole way there and back because they came and I had to go out and do that. But I've seen what happens when good people don't stand up against bad ones, and I'm never going to let that happen again if I have to be the only one standing. Fortunately, we have a new generation that seems willing to stand up and be counted, and I'm truly grateful for that.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, Kansas and Missouri both have a lot of Tea Party presence, but the Kansas City area, which straddles the line between those states does not. And there are neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups everywhere in the nation. Most of these people came from Texas with others from North Dakota, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The rural parts of Missouri down in the Ozarks are a real haven for many of these white milita groups, as are some of the western states like Utah, simply because they have isolated, wild lands where they can hide their camps. But the organizations and their members can be found everywhere.

Warren Bull said...

The Klu Klux Klan used to be a powerful political group that made up a voting bloc throughout the midwest. Perhaps the Tea Party is the modern day version of that organization. I am concerned that large numbers of people believe the president was born in Kenya and other easily-debunked ideas. I don't think the country has been so drastically divided since just before the Civil War.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, you're right. I think a lot of folks now think the KKK and the rest of them have always been outcasts, but actually the KKK used to run a lot of the rural and small-town parts of the country and even some urban areas. "Respectable" men with power and influence were members. It was only as a light was shown on their more heinous activities that this country finally stood up and said, "You're not welcome in our communities."

That's why I think the idea that we should just ignore them and they'll go away is wrong. Ignore them, and they'll entrench themselves in power again. And I think we're seeing a lot of that now. Many of the more extreme politicians have demonstrated ties to either the KKK, Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood or another similar group. We can't afford to just ignore them any longer. That's what they did in Weimar Germany. As Ben pointed out when we were facing them, the original Nazis took over Germany with not many more members than were lined up against us.

Marilyn Levinson said...

I commend you for taking a stand yesterday, something you've done all your life. It's disturbing to hear that the police were acting against the protesters. And disturbing that the KKK still marches.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Marilyn, I don't blame the police officers themselves. Those orders came from on high. I don't think many, if any, were happy about them.

Also, the politicians kept going to the media trying to make it out that we counter-ralliers were going to be violent--and they convinced many organizations to pull out and go to a hastily arranged rally miles away. But there was never any intent of violence nor any sign of it among us. The Nazis taunted us over their loudspeakers. "We weren't searched and wanded. You're the ones the cops are worried about, not us." Which I found disturbing.

lil Gluckstern said...

I, too, think you are amazing. A friend of mine said something like complaining and coping are healthy. You stand up for what you believe. Not all of bother to do that. I have been saying all along that the Tea Partiers feel like fascists to me-willing to sacrifice folks for their own agenda.Very moving.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Lil, what I found the great news to take out of this was the young people. Some in very fashionable conservative business wear, some in artsy creative style, some in mohawks and motorcycle boots, but all polite, kind, and determined to stand up against that hate. I think our country is going to be in very good hands

Anonymous said...

It's definitely encouraging to see our next generations take a principled stand. I think part of the perception that they don't care is that they haven't been educated (the emphasis on reading/math/formalized testing in our schools really cuts into the time our kids are exposed to their own history. I've encountered black college students who don't recognize the name Medgar Evers, much less the role he played in why they have the opportunities they have.

One apsect of all this is that the neo-nazis & KKK have become very adept at following the "rules" for formal protests. Near where I live, the KKK holds a yearly demonstration (usually not very well attended & pretty much ignored by people, but the press makes a big deal of it & they love that)

They know that the process is (or should be) content-neutral, and that those who apply for a demonstration permit properly will be given a permit for their prefered location, so they set out to get their permits, etc. while counter-protestors who apply later will be granted a permit at a distance. That, of course, often results in the counter-protestors deciding they are not going to follow the procedure, and will hold their demonstration in physical proxitiy to the demonstration with a permit. All of a sudden, we have a group of people who are refusing to follow the normal directives they are given, so guess who is viewed as the potential troublemakers?

The way around this, of course, is to be active, not reactive, in the process and to learn how to take advantage of, not buck, the permitting process. Organizers who have been at this for a long time understand the dynamics. Sometimes, though, the deliberate intent is to provoke a confrontation as a way of making a point. One can't blame the authorities for viewing that agenda as problematic, no matter how much they may agree (or diagree) with the position of either group.

What you're seeing is the pretty extremist concept of American freedom of speech at work. Most countries don't permit such freedom of expression, instead drawing the line where hate speech, etc. begins to interfere with the rights of others.

Linda Todd said...

Linda, thank you for posting this and thank you for all you've done down through the years. I didn't know these hate groups were as widespread as this. I wish I could have been there. I know this is Veteran's Day and I thank them all for their service, but I also thank you and others like you for standing in the gap for the rest of us.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, the ones trying to instigate violence were the Nazis. Over their loudspeakers, they called out to people in our crowd with lots of horribly pejorative names (mostly young African American and Latino men) and dared them to leave the group and cross the police lines to fight them. Of course, they knew they'd only be set upon by the police, so they wouldn't. Then the Nazis challenged them to find them later at a popular nightlife area of town, and many were planning to go. The cops were groaning because, as one said, the Nazis knew they'd be safe because the police would now be sent to that district to protect them (after already working so long on their days off).

Linda Rodriguez said...

Linda, there were no WWII vets with us. Most of them are just too old and fragile now. One friend who would have loved to have gone and stood up against them as he did in the Alps in WWII has just had a serious stroke and couldn't be allowed to attend. But there were veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq/Afghanistan there. Lots of Vietnam vets who were the most angry of any of us. One white-haired Vietnam vet waved hi cane in the air and shouted again and again, "America kicked the Nazi's asses once before, and we can do it again."

I thought about my friend Rocky who won a bundle of medals in those Italian Alps and lost two fingers and many friends, of my father and uncles who fought in that war against the Nazis, and I wondered how they would have felt so close to Veteran's Day to see American Nazis goose-step in with the swastika stuck into the American flag.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

I had to laugh when I read the line "I had decided that I was done with going out into the streets to protest or demonstrate. I figured I’d earned my time to sit peacefully at home and finish the book for which I have an impending deadline."

Something always propels good people to do the right thing. Thank you for being there.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Well, Terrie, I have to laugh myself. I'm always telling myself I'll say no. I've been involved in my community for many years and on many boards and finally got off all of them. I wanted to use that time for my writing. But then, my SinC chapter couldn't find anyone willing to be president, and I didn't want it to go under, so there I went again. But my term's up in March, and then I'm going to be selfish and sit home and do my own work. I really am. Really.

Tom Metzger said...

It would be a huge mistake to mistake HOLLYWOOD NAZI'S with the growing covert LONE WOLF Underground. But as Napoleon once said. It the enemy is making a huge mistake stay polite and do not interfere.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I don't know about Hollywood Nazis, Tom. These Nazis certainly weren't movie stars. And I don't know anything about the Lone Wolf underground. These were not Lone Wolves, either.

Kara Cerise said...

It makes me angry and sad that there are people with these extreme views. Also, it's chilling to hear they advocate ethnic cleansing. Thank you for taking a stand, Linda. You are an inspiration!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, they said a lot of chilling stuff, Kara. But the most chilling part was realizing that 95% of what they were saying could be found any day on talk radio or in the halls of Congress.

Polly Iyer said...

Bravo, Linda. One of the most famous quotes is: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. You can certainly say that you've done your share to keep evil away. It saddens me when I hear the vile rhetoric going on today, not by the groups you protested against, but by some of our politicians. We fought as a country to stem tyranny abroad so it wouldn't reach our shores, yet the evil is here, wearing suits and ties and pretending to be something they're not. I've seen signs in rural South Carolina for KKK meetings, and it shocks me that this mindset is so prevalent. Bravo, Linda, for fighting the good fight.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Polly, but anyone can do it. It's a pain to give up free time and all--we've all got better things to do--but we've got to show that the sane people in this country don't want anything to do with this extremist hate.

Herschel Cozine said...

You were fortunate that the Nazis were only there for a short time. I grew up in a small, idyllic town on Long Island that in the mid-30's was taken over by the Nazis. They ran a summer camp for youth and paraded down main street with swastikas, storm trooper uniforms and anti-Semitic speeches that left the townspeople frantic. We hated them of course, and did everything we could to make their lives miserable. But it took WWII to get rid of them.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, I shudder to think about a whole town of them, Hershel. Did they all move away, or did they stay there but just shrink back into the woodwork?