This Is Not Who We Are: The Baraboo High Nazi Salute and American Fascism

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This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Nazi Salute at Baraboo High

11-29-2018  Almost all the boys of the 2019 class of Baraboo High in Wisconsin posed for a picture doing the Nazi salute. The first reaction of many was, “This is not who we are.” Clearly it is. What to do about this American fascism?

hitler greeting, sieg heil, hitler sign, nazi salute, hitler salute, fascism in high school, history education in american high schools, world war two history in high schools, holocaust education high schoolBaraboo High Superintendent Lori Mueller’s first reaction to the Nazi salute in an email was a version of America’s first reaction to these events: This is not who we are: “The school district is investigating the situation and is working with parents, staff and local authorities. We want to be very clear: The Baraboo School district is a hate-free environment where all people, regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry, are respected and celebrated.” Almost all the boys of the 2019 class in the only high school in town just did the Nazi salute. Clearly, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Lieutenant governor-elect Mandela Barnes was a bit more realistic: “Wish I was shocked, but the comfort they share in embracing supremacist culture is the most obscene part,” he tweeted. “It cannot be tolerated, ignored, or inconsequential. This will not be us.”

At heated council meetings there was more denial. Baraboo High Parents argued about the students’ intent. Some claimed that no, they didn’t intend anything fascist; they were just being silly; they were clearly just waving goodbye before going off to Prom. Waving goodbye. Really! American fascism denial at its finest. Others: They were clearly giving the Nazi salute; they knew exactly what they were doing. But too many folks in this camp will then say, “This is not who we are,” which is not any less dismissive in the end.

This article in The Daily Dot brings attention to the knee-jerk reaction to everything bad that happens in this country: “This is not who we are.” President Obama said it 46 times during his presidency. It’s the collective denial of American fascism. This is exactly who you are. Only by acknowledging that and taking the bull by the horns can you make the changes that will allow you, maybe, some time in the future, to realistically say, “This is not who we are.”

Sources:

  • Grasso, Samantha. ‘This is not who we are’ Meme Wants You to Realize This Is Exactly Who America Is. The Daily Dot. November 27, 2018. https://www.dailydot.com/irl/this-is-not-who-we-are-meme/

Header image: Snopes.com

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