By Rich Larson
“Nazis. I hate these guys.”
— Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989
That’s a joke. And it’s not just any sort of joke. It’s what they call a “gimme,” as in “I need a quick, cheap laugh in this script. Gimme a joke.” So you make an obvious statement like “water is wet,” or “Minnesota is cold,” or “Canadians are lovable goofs.”
Or you say in complete sincerity, “I hate Nazis.” It plays for laughs.
You don’t expect someone to come back to you with “well, you don’t know if they’re bad people.” You don’t expect someone to say, “Winston Churchill shouldn’t have antagonized them.” You don’t expect to hear “Well, they did have a permit.” Actually, you could expect to hear that. Neville Chamberlain has been rightly criticized for giving the Nazis a permit to invade Czechoslovakia for going on 80 years.
And why do we criticize Neville Chamberlain?
Because Nazis are not good guys, and you don’t give them permission to invade Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, or Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia!
Except this is America, and the First Amendment is a cornerstone of our democracy. We have the right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. If a group of White Nationalists applies for a permit to assemble and promises to behave, they must be given the proper permission.
And also, because they are Nazis, you can’t be surprised when they show up to their “peaceful assembly” armed with guns, clubs, tear gas and a Dodge Challenger.
But I’m already way off topic. The point of this column is that I am sick to death of writing about politics, current events, the state of our Union, and the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. I think if you go through the content on this website, the only things that might show up more often than the word “Trump” are a picture of Kevin Krein’s companion bunny Annabell, or a FULLY CAPITALIZED WORD in a piece written by Daniel G. Moir. The Next Ten Words was created in the summer of 2017—a season in which we are still in the midst—and I’m already sick to death of the political tone our site has taken.
Politics certainly are a part of what we want to cover. Our tagline is “Arts, Culture, Politics, Other Stuff.” We do not and will not shy away from covering the topics of the day. (Editor’s note: I’m still waiting for my open invitation for contributions from right-leaning writers to be accepted. We really do want you to be a part of this.) But this is not supposed to be a website about politics. We’re not POLITICO, and we don’t want to be. As publisher I just believe that art and politics go hand-in-hand, and one gives context to the other. You can’t cover art without covering the things happening in the world.
I also feel a certain amount of responsibility as a writer to take full advantage of my own rights under the First Amendment. I’m a proud American, and I love my country. I hold our values and our actions to incredibly high standards because that is how we define ourselves in the world. I believe in American Exceptionalism, in that I really do think this is the greatest country on Earth. So when we don’t meet the standards we have set for ourselves, it is the responsibility of all Americans to call that out.
Boy, have we been missing the mark lately.
So, instead of writing about great theater in St. Paul, or taking the trip to Napa Valley that has been offered to me so I can write about visiting Wine Country, I keep coming back to the stuff that’s bugging me in America. Or I poke Ryan Oldham, he fires something out of his talented pen, and it’s up on the site in a few hours. And suddenly, half the content on NTW is political.
We don’t necessarily want to write about this stuff. My great passion is writing about music. I’d also love to be writing about baseball, restaurants, and Game of Thrones. Ryan is a big fan of the English Premier League, and just yesterday, we finally found a sliver of space for him to talk about that. But guess what? He’ll be back writing about politics before you know it. You know why? Because there is only so much time in the day and because of things like the RAISE Act, health care, the Philando Castille shooting, Brexit, President Trump pushing the prime-minister of Montenegro out of his way at the G20 summit, the Paris Accords, and the Justine Damond shooting.
And, of course, the Nazis in the park.
Choosing to write about President Jed Bartlett instead of President Donald Trump would be truly irresponsible. Dammit, I have a few things that I would love to say about President Claire Underwood, but they’ll have to wait because President Trump was supposed to talk about his national infrastructure plans the other day and instead gave comfort to David Duke.
We have to write about these things because the country, in my estimation, and in the opinion of many others, is going off the rails. When somebody wants to publicly argue about whether or not those people in Charlottesville were actually giving a Nazi salute because they were using their left arm instead of their right arm, this country has big problems. We must address that. When the President of the United States spreads the blame for the violence in Charlottesville around to “many sides,” tries to correct himself, but then doubles down on his original statement, we don’t have any choice but to point out how that might be problematic for this country.
I’m currently in the process of recruiting more contributors to The Next Ten Words, with the understanding that they not write about politics. We need more contributors. We need excellent quality work from people who have a distinct point of view on any number of topics. But we do not need any more left-leaning political writers, because Ryan and I have that well handled and could publish three pieces a day each if we had the time. There’s that much to talk about.
I want to write about Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s amazing new album. Instead I’m writing about white nationalists in Virginia.
Can you believe, in 2017, I had to publish an article denouncing white supremacy in America?
I hate these guys.
This article was edited by Rachel Wohrlin