Andrew: Of course, the “Scott Walker is Hitler” meme has been played ad nauseam in Wisconsin. You may recall February 10 — four days before the protests even began — when the historians at the Teamsters Joint Council #39 deliciously compared Walker to “H-I-L-T-E-R.” Politifact Wisconsin actually had to publish a piece contravening State Senator Lena Taylor’s assertion that Walker was like Hitler — as if they were football referees needing instant replay to confirm a close call.
But the World Series of buffoonery taking place in the relatively calm Milwaukee suburb of West Allis on Saturday has a different feel. As Andrew pointed out, a neo-Nazi group known as the National Socialist Movement will hold a “Defense of White America Rally.” Hateful rallies by groups such as these are repugnant, but fairly standard. They are simply the price Americans pay for having a First Amendment.
Instead, the real news is being made by a scheduled counter-protest organized by a group of union sympathizers known as the “Wisconsin Bailout the People Movement.” And why would the unions care whether the neo-Nazis are partying at Bigotfest on Saturday? Because “unity” is needed — “to fight Gov. Walker’s union busting.”
The folks at the Wisconsin Reporter have the details, including a flyer that implores people to attend because, “Like the Tea Party bigots who support Walker, the Nazis are doing the dirty work of big business.” Asked for comment, Bailout the People spokesman Bryan Pfeifer offered the following explanation: “These are individual politicians who have been bankrolled by the highest levels of banks and corporations in Wisconsin … and there is a historical continuum here with a connection between the Nazis and big business.” (Perhaps Apple’s Steve Jobs is stepping down because Bryan Pfeifer is finally on to him.)
With Labor Day approaching in Wisconsin, it was inevitable that the state would see its share of eyeroll-worthy hyperbole on display. With unions still fighting Governor Walker’s collective bargaining rollback, Republicans have become persona non grata at Labor Day parades – even if they’re federal representatives that had nothing to do with passage of Walker’s plan. A union protester who once complained about receiving too much publicity is suing a Capitol worker for popping her balloon, because he allegedly violated her “constitutional rights.”
But the anti-neo-Nazi counter-rally takes things to a new level. West Allis police are going to be in harm’s way; it will no longer merely be words thrown around in an attempt to smear Walker with the Nazi calumny; it could be heavy objects. Let’s just hope the public has the common sense to ignore both sides of the protest.
— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.