So far the responses of our SD congressional delegation to the events in Charlottesville have been tepid, ambiguous, and cowardly. Why these three can't bring themselves to condemn specifically the Nazis and KKKers who were the most visible elements in the march to "Unite The Right" shows a dismaying lack of moral specificity. Congresswoman Noem blathers on about "anyone spreading hate and fear" while Thune called "the hate and bigotry . . . disgusting and unacceptable." According to the SF Argus Leader, Mike Rounds deferred questions to a written response (that I haven't found) that condemned violence but didn't criticize President Trump's response. Do our congressional reps know anything about the history of the Nazis and the Klan? Why can't they bring themselves to call out these two organizations for condemnation?
I wish this trio of South Dakota Republicans had the same no-nonsense rejection of moral equivocation that Ronald Reagan did when queried about the support he'd gotten from the Ku Klux Klan. Said President Reagan in 1984, "the politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan have no place in this country and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood." As to Nazis, Reagan's wartime service (his vision deferred him from a combat assignment) was distinguished by a long list of of anti-Nazi film productions and public appearances that put his status as a popular actor to work in the war effort.
More than two thousand South Dakotans were killed or wounded fighting the Nazis and their allies in World War II. I'm a life member (by virtue of my 13 month tour of duty as a Marine in Vietnam) of the F.J. Willuweit VFW post in Quinn, at the eastern end of Pennington County. Willuweit was killed fighting Nazis in Europe. I had an employee, long since dead, who fought with Patton in Europe. He once told me that when he landed at Normandy the bodies floating in the water were so thick that you could practically walk on top of them to get to the beach. My own dad, who fought the Nazis in the Balkans while serving in the Greek army, was shot and captured in Macedonia in 1942, then subsequently trucked to a POW camp near Dachau, the infamous concentration camp. He spent the rest of the war as a forced laborer, including a stint as a hod-carrier for German bricklayers constructing the ovens in which thousands of murdered Jews were incinerated.
That so many of us in South Dakota have direct linkage to the generation that sacrificed much, if not all, in the battle against Nazism should be enough to spur our elected leadership into condemning the latter day resurgence of this hideous legacy. It really isn't that difficult or politically perilous. Along with those demented paramours of Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, they're easy enough to target with the simple, clear, unequivocal and direct language of modern conservatism's towering warrior Ronald Reagan: They have no place in this country. Get it, Noem, Rounds and Thune? They have no place in this country.