Not long ago, Coloradans woke up to discover that a local Neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) Denver Unit, had been accepted into the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Adopt-a-Highway program and assigned a mile of road near Denver to keep clean. The local NSM boys stoutly denied that the application was a second choice after their Plant-a-Tree-in-Israel proposal had been shot down by national leadership.
The move prompted a mild outcry. The DOT responded that denying their application would have violated the Nazis’ constitutional rights, though it did accede to the protest of a multiracial church and moved the Waffen Clean-Up Brigade down the road, away from the church’s front door.
But, Constitution and accommodation aside, was giving them adoption rights so wrong?
The Brown Shirts just wanted what every red-blooded American wants — good PR — something that, interestingly, the local gay and lesbian community has in spades, thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Fund’s savvy donations to youth- and family-friendly causes. You could almost hear our Sieg Heil brothers gnashing their few remaining teeth: Them pansies and dykes ain’t gonna make fools outa us!
And, indeed, what grounds could be used to deny the Nazis their adoption rights that couldn’t also be used against the gays and lesbians? You could argue that the Nazis are intolerant and exclusive, and gays are tolerant and inclusive. But you could also say that gays and lesbians don’t exactly welcome the Storm Troopers with open arms. And what of evangelicals, who may hate Hitlerites almost as much as they loathe Sodomites?
With such a slippery slope, probably the only defensible grounds for banning the Nazis would be their proven inability to do the job. But, for a group that wallows in filth, and for whom Trash is almost a family name (many of them also share the same first name — White), this kind of work must be their briar patch.
Besides, think of the probable benefits:
At Least One Mile of Really Clean Road: This is a group that has a lot at stake. They know that, if their mile is anything less than spotless, their public approval rating goes negative: Mussolini at least made the trains run on time, but these ninnies can’t even pick up a Coke can.
Maybe Many Miles of Really Clean Road: No Rotary Club or Friends of the Earth that’s already in the program will want their stretch of road compared unfavorably with the Fascist Freeway. If the Nazis make their roadside attractive enough for a picnic, their rivals will have to make theirs clean enough to eat off — a competitive frenzy, with Nazi and anti-Nazi eagerly cleaning the public toilet to prove their worth.
Maybe Even a Few Reformed Neo-Nazis: If you have ever been involved in a roadside clean-up campaign, you know that trash knows no political, ethnic, or religious boundaries. Liberals and conservatives, Caucasians and African-Americans, Christians and Jews toss, lob, and chuck. Everyone is a slob. If littering were a business, it would be the quintessential equal opportunity employer.
Think of what an enlightening influence the anonymity of garbage could have on our little band of bigots. Was it an elderly Mexican-American woman or a five-year-old descendant of the Pilgrims who tossed that half-consumed Mountain Dew? Was it an imam or a rabbi who chucked that snot-filled Kleenex? Was it a rich Philadelphia lawyer or even one of their own who heaved that used family-planning device? It was all of the above.
While there is some danger that the experience would simply confirm the Goose-Steppers’ loathing of all mankind, they would have to include even their own brethren in their Hate Parade. In time, they would see that, underneath superficial differences, we’re really all alike. We have met the enemy and he is us.
Let’s do a little experiment. I have a carpet that … well, let’s just say the dog had a really bad day, and it’s been out by the back fence, in the rain. We can get it into the flatbed and push it off in the dark. An anonymous call the next morning. I’m betting they’ll be on it like a vulture on a squashed skunk.