Two hate groups came to the city of Charlotte. Both are officially listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Both have long records of asserting that the world would be better off were it not for the existence and actions of a particular race of people. Both spew rhetoric remarkably similar to that used by Adolf Hitler to describe what he considered to be evil or inferior races of people.
Both deserve the condemnation of people everywhere, but the reception both groups got when they came to Charlotte was very different.
The New Century Foundation publishes American Renaissance, which argues that civilizations are stronger when they are only populated by white people. In 2005, American Renaissance publisher Jared Taylor wrote: "When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears." In addition, the magazine's "Introduction to Our Readers" carries this passage: "By no definition of international competitiveness can the presence of [blacks and Hispanics] be anything but a disadvantage."
The group planned to hold a convention here. Demonstrations against them were planned and negative media coverage dogged the group. Two Charlotte City Council members pressured the hotel where the convention was supposed to be held to cancel it, and it did.
The group was warned by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police that it could be in danger if it held a public event in Charlotte because of violent threats they had become aware of, Taylor told NewsTalk 1110 WBT. As of press time, group leaders were so afraid for their safety that they didn't announce the location of their press conference denouncing what they feel is a violation of their constitutional rights until the last minute. The whole thing will likely wind up in court.
The leaders of American Renaissance deserved everything they got. They were treated exactly as they should be by a civil society.
Enter hate group No.2. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has a long, well-documented history of anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-white statements. He has accused Jews and their "synagogue of Satan" of being agents of the devil. He has accused Jews of orchestrating wars so they could profit; taking over banking and the Federal Reserve so they can control and steal people's money; causing the current financial crisis; and controlling Hollywood so they can corrupt American culture. Farrakhan routinely professes a change of heart only to continue making similar statements.
Despite this, Farrakhan was presented with a key to the city of Charlotte in 1990, the city's highest honor. The policy on keys was eventually changed after Charlotte City Council member Hoyle Martin bestowed the honor on Farrakhan, but the denouncement of Farrakhan receiving the honor wasn't particularly loud.
I found four visits by Farrakhan to the city since 1990 for rallies and speeches in Lexis-Nexis archives. He was taken pretty seriously by the media here, especially in the mid-1990s, when he was organizing and promoting the Million Man March. Each of his gatherings, including one in 2006, was given significant and largely positive coverage by The Charlotte Observer, with fleeting references to Jewish leaders' issues with him.
Farrakhan routinely drew crowds of 4,000 here, according to news reports. The American Renaissance conference expected about 150.
For much of the last decade, we've been told that even the slightest political incivility can incite a madman to go on a murderous shooting rampage for which the politically uncivil could then be held socially responsible. Meanwhile, hate crimes against Jews have surged in recent years, far outpacing hate crimes against any other religious group, yet no one here held Farrakhan responsible.
Why has Farrakhan gotten so many passes? Hate is hate, plain and simple. Who is slinging it shouldn't matter. If hotel managers here are remotely sensitive to the suffering Jews endured during the last century, they'll slam their doors in Farrakhan's face the next time he visits.
A significant part of what drives racial and religious animosity in our society today isn't actual tension between groups because of their differences, but resentment over different sets of societal rules and tolerance levels for the same brand of hate depending on who is slinging it.