US Holocaust Memorial Museum
The entrance to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum/Timothy Hursley

Holocaust museum alarmed over 'hateful speech' by white nationalists

WASHINGTON (Reuters) The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has expressed alarm over "hateful speech" at a white nationalist meeting over the weekend, and a restaurant apologized for hosting the group after a woman tweeted a picture of herself making a Nazi salute.

The National Policy Institute, a think tank that is part of the alt-right movement that includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites, held a gathering at the federally owned Ronald Reagan Building on Saturday (Nov. 19).

The alt-right movement came to the fore during the U.S. presidential election. President-elect Donald Trump has drawn criticism for naming Steve Bannon, former head of a website linked to the alt-right, as his chief White House strategist.

Trump's transition team issued a statement on Monday saying Trump has continued to denounce racism, CNN reported.

"President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he was elected because he will be a leader for every American," Trump-Pence Transition spokesman Bryan Lanza said in a statement.

The gathering on Saturday drew scores of protesters who blocked traffic around the building to express their outrage over the meeting.

A video by The Atlantic taken inside the conference showed Richard Spencer, leader of the National Policy Institute, shouting, "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" as some of the people in attendance lifted their hands in a Nazi salute.

"The Holocaust did not begin with killings: it began with words," the Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement on Monday. "The museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech."

Some of those who attended the nationalist meeting later gathered for a banquet at Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant in northwest Washington. Protesters converged on the site and prompted the restaurant to close to protect the safety of staff and guests, the management said in an apology on Facebook.

The restaurant said the booking was a last-minute affair made under a different name, so staff were unaware that the National Policy Institute was dining there and did not know what the group represented.

"After the event, an attendee sent a tweet in which she made a 'Seig Heil salute' in support of Hitler and white supremacy. This expression of support of Hitler is extremely offensive to us, as our restaurant is home to teammates and guests of every race, religion and cultural background," the Facebook post said.

The restaurant apologized to the surrounding neighborhood and said it was donating the profits from its sales on Friday, $10,000, to the Washington office of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group.

The Ronald Reagan Building, the biggest structure in the U.S. capital, is federally owned but run by Trade Center Management Associates, a unit of Drew Co., a Boston real estate development company.

The firm defended allowing the nationalist group to use the venue. It said in a statement that its contract mandates that unless there is a security threat by an organization or person who asks for meeting space, the building is available for rental.

The agenda of the National Policy Institute's Saturday meeting included a breakdown of the 2016 election and plans for the growth of the alt-right.

The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, described Spencer as an "academic racist" who backs creation of an Aryan homeland.

Twitter suspended several accounts linked to the alt-right last week, including Spencer's.

The move followed the microblogging service's announcement that it would upgrade some features to better combat cyberbullying.

Comments

  1. All these ignorant, brazen people who for some reason feel safe spewing their hate I hope realize that regardless of who one voted for, who is in the white house, this will not be tolerated. One good thing about these embolden morons, is that rather than them hiding underground we can address and counter each and every racist action which will do more to end racism than the blanket approach of calling everyone racist.

  2. We can start by doing what balloonknot9 suggests: “we can address and counter each and every racist action”. We can individually participate in a shared cultural, political, and spiritual-existential front that makes standing up to racism — and all the other dehumanizing isms typified by racism — the norm. Otherwise, what we do not challenge will become the norm.

  3. You are absolutely wrong on all counts. Are you a KKKNazi? I pity Sylvia.

  4. “tantrum-thrower.”
    “hate group.”
    “Anything they say can be dismissed without further consideration”
    “claptrap”

    The very essence of prejudice, of the willful sowing of hostility, of vain self-indulgent proclamations that seek to define the belittlement of strangers as proper. A prime example of using psychological projection to shield oneself — and one’s implicitly acknowledged guilt — from others’ legitimate challenges that hit too close to home. And a practical demonstration of puffing oneself up with a deliberately designed presentation of “unbridled” hostility in an effort to discourage further confrontation by others.

    Thank you for this opportunity to analyze the dynamics of bigotry-based bullying, SylviasDaddy!

  5. OK so you can’t stand the notion of freedom of speech. A right to protest is fundamental to a democratic society. Your silly comment goes beyond conservative partisan chest thumping. Pretty much you have to be a fascist troll to be against the concept of protest.

    But then again you are posting nonsense on an article concerning hate speech, white nationalists and the Holocaust Museum. So fascist troll may be more than appropriate here.

  6. Not answering the question, huh.

    Need a moment to think about whether you are a KKKnazi?

  7. Did you read what you wrote in your initial comment and in your reply? You hadn’t really responded to anything, even the article. You’ve named called, demonized and tried to embarrass or shame. That’s not a discussion. That’s you attacking ideas and people you don’t like.

    I asked if you’re a KKKNazi because those are the ones who really hate the SPLC because it exposes the white supremacists, misogynists, anti-Semites, racists, nativists and other vile people.

    I’m sorry for making the crack about Sylvia. That was out of line.

  8. Sylvia – you might want to arrange a DNA test.

    Proud to be 4

  9. This is a first, for me at least. I’ve never seen a spite-spewing spendthrift delete his own spittle before, Spuddy. Have you?

    I’d really like to think he took your and Her Leftness’s insightful points to heart.

  10. It is apparent to me that there is a segment of people, whether from the Left or the Right, who do not respect other people’s right to their own opinion or freedom of expression. Unless someone purposefully advocates violence, destruction of property, or any other unlawful act, they are entitled to their own point of view, even if I disavow it. At the same time there is another equally intransigent segment who judge people by the degree of their “otherness,” an attitude also not confined to one side or the other. Typically, such groups of either type do not rise to the level that they can substantially impact policy, unless and until circumstances in a society reach a tipping point, that tipping point, as in Germany in the 30″s was a function of economic conditions. When people fear the sustainability of their basic needs that is the fulcrum upon which they tend to both panic and persecute, at least to extremity. Few of us are without bias or some subtle tendency to fanaticism, unless we perceive it and make an earnest effort to combat it.

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