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Could it happen here?

People in Marshall have been dragged unwillingly into the spotlight this week after a couple walked through the Marshall Walmart wearing facing coverings resembling Nazi flags, complete with a swastika over their mouths. A local church vicar, who was born in Germany and knows full well how noxious that symbol is, shot a video of the couple as they strutted and argued, and the video went viral.

The couple, who have been banned from going into any Walmart for a year, were apparently trying to make a political statement.

“If you vote for Joe Biden,” the woman said, “you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany. This is what it’s going to be like!”

It’s tempting to say, “Well, it’s too bad that happened in Marshall, but that could never happen here.” But can we be sure? Certainly New Ulm, which suffered from anti-German discrimination during last century’s world wars, should be aware of what the Nazi symbol means. But seems to be an undercurrent of hatred and racism flowing through the country, that seems to have come to a boil in recent months with the strain of COVID-19 restrictions and the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. Could it pop up here? Ask those who are spray painting hateful messages in the Art Wall park in New Ulm about that.

We all have a lot of work to do to confront this kind of hatefulness, within ourselves and within our community before we can confidently say, “It couldn’t happen here.”

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