Editorial Roundup: South Dakota

Yankton Press & Dakotan. June 11, 2024.

Editorial: A Nazi March And An Old Reminder

On Thursday, June 6, we turned our attentions to Normandy in France as several world leaders honored the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of occupied Europe during World War II, a pivotal moment in that war and in the course of human history. The moment pleaded to us to not forget the cost of confronting fascism and hate. While so few of the soldiers who were part of that invasion now remain, last week’s message seemed to ring out even from the graves of the dead …

Two days later, South Dakotans were given another reminder of what that fight was all about, and why that resolve can never rest.

On Saturday, members of the neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe staged public demonstrations in both Pierre and Deadwood. The event in Pierre was held on the steps of the state capitol, with about 15 demonstrators, clad in red and black and hiding behind masks, posing next to a large red flag emblazoned with a swastika while, in social media photos, the seat of our state government loomed in the background.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the Highway Patrol dispersed the demonstrators because they did not have a permit for their rally. However, a purported member of Blood Tribe said on social media that the group left of their own accord and were not shooed away by state authorities.

Either way, what was left behind was a disturbing visual, which was one of the points of the effort.

Although the neo-Nazis didn’t have a permit for the protest, they do broadly have the right to free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In response, we have the right to look upon these people and what they stand for and to see them for what they are.

It also demands that we understand that the fight against fascism (which, by the way, is what “antifa,” or anti-fascism, is) did not end with victory in World War II.

The battle goes on. The fight is never-ending.

Hate groups like Blood Tribe and its overt protests make the threat easy to see, impossible to miss.

But it’s the more understated, subversive forms that must be understood and also confronted … and that’s what makes the battle difficult but all the more essential.

For now, we understand the stakes.

On Saturday night, Gov. Kristi Noem posted on X/Twitter, “Today, Nazis attempted to rally at the SD Capitol without a permit and were escorted away by Highway Patrol officers. Nazis are not welcome here in South Dakota. We stand on the shoulders of generations of Americans who have fought for the freedom of all — here and abroad. We stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We reject all hatred and Nazis. Full stop.”

The Spink County Democrats responded on social media to the incident by beseeching South Dakotans to “stand against what these people represent,” then posted the names of veterans from that county who died during World War II, closing with the declaration, “(Expletive) Nazis.”

Besides other state officials, national groups also weighed in. The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Monday declared, “We join in the condemnation of this display of hatred and bigotry, which targets every minority community and must be repudiated by all Americans.”

The lessons from the past few days are simple, clear and vital: Remember what was won at a terrible price, and do not delude yourself into thinking that the fight is ever finished.