Our ancestors saw Nazis for what they are

Waylon Hedegaard

Bismarck

Sadly, white supremacy and Nazi ideology are on the rise across the nation and here in North Dakota. Four years ago, we all watched as Nazis and white supremacists tried to take over the small town of Leith for their own enclave, and many of us went down to protest the Nazi rally.

We stood against the hate and aggression they represented. Regular everyday North Dakotans, friends and neighbors, young and old, stood shoulder to should against the Nazis. People of all backgrounds and colors flocked to Leith because they could not stand by while Fascists terrorized other North Dakotans.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO and Organized Labor will always stand against such racist, hateful and vile beliefs. Nazism, Fascism and white supremacy are abhorrent to everything Labor stands for and they always have been.

Understand that one of the Nazis’ first acts in Germany was to crush the labor unions. Knowing that organized Labor was a real threat to Nazi control, the fascist government spent two years outlawing unions, jailing leaders who stood up for workers, and setting up a state run system of worker control. Using ruthless violence, intimidation and murder, the Nazis destroyed everything unions had fought for.

Our union sisters and brothers need to remember that Organized Labor was the first item on Hitler’s enemies list.

Nazis are cruel and violent followers of a murderous ideology. Their historical record is one of torture, slaughter and the mechanization of genocide. The war they started killed tens of millions of people across the globe including over 400,000 Americans. They have never been peaceful. They have never been compassionate, and they have never been respectable. The mass subjugation and murder of people different from themselves is central to their beliefs.

They are the enemy of every decent human being, regardless of political affiliation. Our grandfathers and grandmothers understood this well and fought them with everything they had. They knew Nazis for what they were, and it’s up to us to remember their sacrifice. Hundreds of thousands of our grandparents did not die for us to stand by and watch Nazis rallying on American soil, planting swastikas on American ground and desecrating the country they fought so hard to protect.

We must stand up! We must fight back! We must call them out on their murderous beliefs. We must not let this hate-filled infection spread!

Though working people certainly have legitimate issues, white supremacy, Fascism and Nazism have never had the answers. These ideologies only turn working people violently against other working people. Nazism blames those who are different for all the problems of our society whether those are differences of color or religion or belief, and it claims the final solution to our problems is the violent destruction of those different people.

The source of working people’s issues are not people of a different color, gender, religion or belief. This has never been true and remains a lie today. Working people’s problems come from an unfair economic system that increasingly takes money and power from them to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO stands against hate. It has always stood against hate, and it always will. We stand against blaming other poor people for our problems. We stand against white supremacy, and we stand against Nazis.

We will proclaim this message until it rings in every labor hall, every workplace and every neighborhood in our state. We will not accept the racism and hatred that the swastika represents. We will not tolerate the threats of violence and fear, and we will not be quiet.

I ask my Union brothers and sisters and every working human being in our state to stand with us. Until the day we can no longer stand, we must all stand against Nazis!

Hedegaard is president of the AFL-CIO in North Dakota.

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