Mizzou Stands Tall Against Nazi March

Once again, a group of self-styled neo-Nazi white supremacists took advantage of the very First Amendment rights they would deny to others to obtain a legal permit for a “march and rally” in Columbia, Mo., near the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. In anticipation of the event, there were the usual back-and-forth suggestions and discussions as to how best to respond to the march by about 20 members of the National Socialist movement, which did go forward as planned last Saturday afternoon. According to The Missourian, the newspaper published in Columbia, police in Columbia and other jurisdictions had encouraged students and community members to “ignore” the event, depriving the neo-Nazis of the oxygen of publicity which they crave.

A coalition of Jewish and non-Jewish students at Mizzou, under the aegis of the Jewish Student Organization, developed a strategy to counter the neo-Nazis head-on, by taking attention away from the march and rally, and using the occasion to prove that the overwhelming majority of students, faculty and community members are totally opposed to everything the neo-Nazis purport to represent. The neo-Nazi rally did go forward with its legally-obtained permit, but so also did the counter-demonstrations against the hate group, turning what might have been a disaster into a true educational opportunity.


The National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of several neo-Nazi white supremacist groups in the country, and which is headquartered in Minneapolis, obtained a permit for 20 to 50 members to march on a route passing near the Hillel at Mizzou, and near the School of Journalism. Kerry Hollander, executive director of Hillel at Mizzou said, “The purported reason for the (neo-Nazi) march and rally is to protest the teaching of Marxism at the University’s School of Journalism.”

The fact that the neo-Nazis deliberately marched passed the Hillel House on campus is based on the same kind of intimidation as the infamous march by members of the American Nazi Party in the Chicago suburb of Skokie back in the l970s, a community with a huge Jewish population which at the time included hundreds of Holocaust survivors.

Thanks to the initiative of the Jewish Student Organziation at Mizzou, a coalition of students, faculty, community members, business people, religious leaders and politicians of Columbia, formed the Columbia Acceptance Project “to join together and demonstrate that we will be unified by this unfortunate event.”

As reported by Katie Fretland in the Mar. 11 edition of The Missourian, “The parade by white supremacists, about 20 in all, covered less than four blocks and lasted only about 30 minutes. But it stirred a community outpouring that spanned most of the day and included a large contingent of counterprotesters.” Mayor Darwin Hindman was quoted as saying the community had been able to turn the day’s events “into another step forward.”

To be sure, while the overwhelming response by Mizzou students and residents of Columbia dealt a resounding rebuff to last Saturday’s neo-Nazi march, the increasing frequency and brazenness of such events sponsored by hate groups is a cause for ongoing concern beyond individual events. In December, members of the St. Louis Jewish community were shocked and sickened by a march by neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers along Schuetz Road alongside the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building. A few years ago, the Ku Klux Klan obtained a legal permit to hold a demonstration on the front steps of the 1950 St. Louis County Courthouse building. The following Sunday, hundreds of people of all faiths and backgrounds held a counter-rally to demonstrate that the citizens of St. Louis County totally reject the messages of hate groups.

It is sad to note that such events have become a reality of current life in America, and unfortunately there will be more “marches” by neo-Nazis and Klan members. But the good news is that such events, as demonstrated by the courage and backbone of the students, faculty and adminstrators of Mizzou and the citizens of Columbia, represent only a tiny extremist fringe, and are totally counter to the values of the United States, values which they take advantage of, but would deny to any others who disagree with their hateful and bigoted views. Congratulations and Yasher Koach to Mizzou and Columbia for putting the neo-Nazis in their place!