Yesterday we were driving home from a Saturday outing of museum + Cheesecake Factory, when we saw a small group of people waiting to cross the street near a local park. Travelling together, wearing clothing that identified them as a group, they reminded me of schoolchildren on a field trip, or perhaps tourists being led around a foreign city. The only weird thing was that more people than the leader were carrying banners—and wait! Were those swastikas on the flags?
As far as I could tell from the news reports this morning, the group did nothing more sinister than walk through the park, shouting "We are everywhere" and throwing out a few "Heil Hitler"-style salutes. There was enough angst and anger from politicians that I'm certain anything nastier would have been all over the news.
What would we have done if we had been walking through the park, as we sometimes do? Probably gawked a bit, then ignored them. (I'm "ignoring them" here as best I can while still telling the story, in that I'm not posting any photos or videos.) I know a priest—"a better man than I am"—who would probably have brought them cold drinks and told them about Jesus. That's how he treated the people from Westboro Baptist the time they picketed his church.
All I know is that there are a lot of people in this world with crazy ideas, but if they're American citizens, they have the same rights as I do. (And if they're not, they still have human rights.)
If we don't believe in freedom of speech and the right of peaceable assembly for those whose ideas we hate, we don't believe in them at all.