Be Like Me - OR ELSE!

Be Like Me - OR ELSE!

© David Burton 2019


     America in the twenty-first century is increasingly becoming intolerant. We have a president who hurls insults at everyone with whom he disagrees. We have Republicans and Democrats who cannot agree on just about everything. We not only disagree with each other but we do so with vehemence and, all too often, with violence. The meaning of civility has been lost.

     Recent events in Boston highlight this growing trend of intolerance.

     In June of 2019, the LGBTQ community held a large and peaceful march in Boston, celebrating (Gay) Pride month. “This year’s 49th Boston Pride Parade and Festival set new records. The Boston Pride parade included a record-breaking 431 contingents and over 50,000 marchers who marched along the 2.27-mile route from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza lined with an estimated 1-million spectators. The Pride Festival at City Hall Plaza was filled with activity all day long including 130 vendors, a Family Fun Zone and headline entertainers . . . drew huge crowds.
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     “Mayor Martin J. Walsh kicked-off the parade on Saturday, June 8th with a ribbon-cutting featuring Boston Pride Committee members.” (Ref. 1)

     Two months later, in late August 2019, straight advocates decided to hold a similar march. This time, the march did not go well. Counter-demonstrators, who considered the straight pride marchers to be President Donald Trump supporters and homophobic extremists, clashed with the marchers, as well as with the Boston police - 36 were arrested.

     This happened as the straight pride parade, with marchers carrying signs such as "2020 Trump" and "Build The Wall," moved from Copley Plaza, through major downtown streets before ending with a rally at City Hall Plaza. Along the parade route, protesters chanted “Boston Hates You."

     “An organization calling itself Super Happy Fun America announced the parade as Boston celebrated LGBTQ Pride Month earlier this summer, saying it believes straight people are an oppressed majority.” (Ref. 2)

     “Large scale intimidation and thuggery was on display on the streets of Boston . . . as antifa and other extreme leftists bullied and harassed anyone they deemed divergent from their groupthink. They spit and punched and yelled hateful things at law enforcement and by Saturday night there were 36 arrests and 4 injured officers, according to Boston police. Nine people face charges of assault and battery on police officers.
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     “They target anyone they’ve determined to be an existential threat — and that is most everyone except their fellow anarchists, socialists and communists. Any Trump supporter in their minds would most definitely be considered a fascist, and would necessarily need to be stopped one way or another from appearing in the public square.
     “ ‘We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,’ said . . . an antifa member who {said} that he felt violence was the only way to deal with the people marching in the parade . . . ‘They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?’ “ (Ref. 3)

     “The antifa movement is composed of left-wing, autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups and individuals in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, with conflicts occurring both online and in real life. They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right.
     “Activists involved in the movement tend to be anti-capitalists and subscribe to a range of ideologies, typically on the left. They include anarchists, socialists and communists along with some liberals and social democrats. Their stated focus is on fighting far-right and white supremacist ideologies directly, rather than through electoral means.” (Ref. 4)

     “In an August 2017 rally on Boston Common, antifa and other radical leftists hunted down attendees of a controversial ‘free speech’” rally. There were 33 arrests for disruptive behavior. The mob descended upon a man wearing an Israeli flag. Bottles of urine and rocks were thrown at police.
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     “These groups have a right to lawfully assemble, however, as do counter-protestors. It is unacceptable that peaceful speech from either side should be allowed to escalate into physical altercations by violent mobs.  . . .
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     “Thuggery must be punished harshly by the justice system and those who attack police must pay a high price for their actions.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 3)

     The actions of those violent protestors at the Straight pride march at other similar events bring back the memories of Hitler’s Brown Shirt thugs who attacked all opponents of Hitler and his Nazi party in the 1930’s. Their message was one of hatred, intolerance and extreme violence. In effect, they were telling everyone: Be like me – OR ELSE! If you weren’t a blue-eyed, blond-haired Aryan, you had no place in the future Third Reich. Ultimately, this philosophy led to the murders of tens of millions of those who were not blue-eyed, blond-haired Aryans – and also to the deaths of millions of these same blue-eyed, blond-haired Aryans.

     Today, we are witnessing the same type of vicious behavior from those protestors who behave like the Nazi Brown shirts of the 1930’s at events organized by groups they oppose. This is the message by antifa: Be like me – OR ELSE! This is the message by Skin-Head WASP’s (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants): Be like me – OR ELSE! This is the message by aggressive gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc.: Be like me – OR ELSE! This is the message by homophobes: Be like me – OR ELSE!

     Today’s American Nazi Brown Shirts show up on our college campuses and prevent the appearance of speakers who oppose the hate group’s message. Today’s American Nazi Brown Shirts show up on the streets of America committing an increasing number of anti-Semitic acts. Today’s American Nazi Brown Shirts show up when they oppose, harass and threaten Hispanic and Muslim immigrants.

     Hostility to immigrants is not a new phenomenon in America. In an effort to preserve so-called “true American values”, intolerance to new immigrants ranged from restrictive legislation to outright violence. Immigrants from areas outside Northern and Western Europe became targets of narrow-mindedness. African Americans faced deadly violence from the Ku Klux Klan and others. Socialists, anarchists, and atheists were threatened. The message was simple and clear. Be like me – OR ELSE!

     Beginning largely in the 1880s, America's shores were flooded with immigrants primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe. The old nativist arguments grew louder in the first two decades of the 20th century. Critics of an open immigration policy cried that America's racial stock was being overrun by undesirable ethnicities. Protestant fundamentalists worried as the numbers of Jewish and Catholic Americans grew larger. Labor leaders claimed that immigration lowered wages. An outright cap on immigrant numbers was enacted in 1921. Ethnic nationalists claimed that these conditions favored Southern and Eastern immigrants too favorably. The result was the NATIONAL ORIGINS ACT OF 1924. This law-based admission to America on nationality. Immigrants from Northern and Western Europe were granted higher quotas than from other parts of the world. Asian immigration was banned completely. As a sign of pan-Americanism, there were no restrictions placed on immigrants from the western hemisphere.[5])

     But, even before, the 1880s, America had endured immigrant discrimination. In the mid-1800’s a flood of Irish immigrants came to the United States to escape the potato famine in their homeland. Supposedly, these Irish “refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease-ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And, worst of all, these undesirables were Irish.” (Ref. 6)

     Beginning in 1845, nearly 2 million refugees from Ireland crossed the Atlantic to the United States in the dismal wake of the Great Hunger. Around 2 million Irish abandoned Ireland in the largest-single population movement of the 19th century. Most of the exiles—nearly a quarter of the Irish nation—washed up on the shores of the United States. They knew little about America except one thing: It had to be better than what they were leaving.
     Many Irish immigrants could progress no farther than within walking distance of the city docks where they disembarked. While some had spent all of their meager savings to pay for passage across the Atlantic, others had their voyages funded by British landlords who found it a cheaper solution to dispatch their tenants to another continent, rather than pay for their charity at home. These people were not only poor, unskilled refugees huddled in rickety tenements. Even worse, they were Catholic.
     Conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the United States had already broken out in violence before. Anti-Catholic, anti-Irish mobs in Philadelphia destroyed houses and torched churches in the deadly Bible Riots of 1844. New York Archbishop John Hughes responded by building a wall of his own around Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in order to protect it from the native-born population, and he stationed musket-wielding members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to guard the city’s churches. Wild conspiracy theories took root that women were held against their will in Catholic convents and that priests systematically raped nuns and then strangled any children born as a result of their union.
     The Irish were vilified by the country’s White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) whose ancestors had explicitly made their exodus across the ocean to find a refuge from papism and ensure their worship was cleansed of any remaining Catholic vestiges. Feelings toward the Vatican had softened little in the two centuries following the sailing of the Mayflower.
     The discrimination faced by the famine refugees was not subtle or insidious. It was right there in black and white, in newspaper classified advertisements that blared “No Irish Need Apply.”
     By 1850, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant societies were formed, including the American Party, whose members were called the “Know-Nothings” because they claimed to “know nothing” when questioned about their politics. Party members vowed to elect only native-born citizens—but only if they weren’t Roman Catholic.
     Violence committed by the Know-Nothings turned deadly in Louisville, Kentucky, in August 1855 when armed Know-Nothing members guarding polling stations on an election day launched street fights against German and Irish Catholics. Immigrant homes were ransacked and torched. Between 20 and 100 people, including a German priest, were fatally attacked while attempting to visit a dying parishioner. Thousands of Catholics fled the city in the riot’s aftermath, but no one was ever prosecuted for crimes committed on “Bloody Monday.”
     A Know-Nothing mob even seized a marble block gifted by Pope Pius IX for construction of the Washington Monument and tossed it in the Potomac River. A pamphlet published by Baltimore’s John F. Weishampel suggested that the stone could be used as a signal from the pope to launch an immigrant uprising to take over America. “The effects of this block, if placed in the monument, will be a mortification to nearly every American Protestant who looks upon it,” he warned, “and its influence upon the ealous supporters of the Roman hierarchy will be tremendous—especially with foreigners.”
     Abraham Lincoln was disturbed at the rise of the nativist movement as he explained in an 1855 letter: “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. ”[6])

     Outside of these United States, there are other forces trying to spread the same message of: Be like me – OR ELSE! Extremist groups like ISIS do so with particular brutality and fanaticism. Either submit to their fanatical definition of Islam or die – no if’s and’s or but’s! The revival of Nazism by German skinheads is another group that once more espouses the supremacy of the Aryan race to exclusion of all others. The violent rebirth in Europe of anti-Semitism by Moslem immigrants and native home-grown anti-Semites is driving many of the Jewish faith to leave their homes and emigrate to Israel.

     The growing rate of violence and intolerance here in the U.S. was even noted in the United Nations, an organization with less than stellar marks in the area of equality. “A group of United Nations human rights experts have urged the United States to recognize the fact that racism and intolerance promote violence.
     “The experts made the remarks following back-to-back mass shooting incidents in the U.S. which have left tens dead and scores others injured.
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     “ ‘The United States must recognize the direct impact that racism, xenophobia, and intolerance have in promoting violence and in creating fear and instability in ethnic and religious minority communities.’
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     “The experts noted that manifestos and social media posts of the attackers indicate political discourse devaluing and dehumanizing people because of their race, religion, immigration status, or ethnicity.” (Ref. 7)

     Unfortunately, anti-Semitism, in all its hoary forms, is back here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Anti-Semitism in Arab and Muslim countries became extreme just prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Some one million Jews were forced out of their centuries-old native lands as a result. As Arabs and Muslims emigrated to Western Europe, their hatred of Jews and Israel emigrated with them. In Europe, Jewish populations are once more under siege.

     Here in America, confronted by the rapidly increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents, “the Jewish community, reflecting the deep fissures of American society, seems divided by political orientation. The conservative faction, sometimes aligned to President Trump, focuses largely on growing anti-Semitism on the political left often downplayed by progressive Jews who focus on the scattered, albeit sometimes deadly, expression of anti-Semitism among scattered white nationalists.
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     “Historically, anti-Semitism has fed on two different, although sometimes aligned, perceptions. The first, dating back to classical times, was based on a notion of ‘otherness’. In ancient Greece and Rome, that was in large part because Jewish monotheism clashed with the dominant state-sanctioned polytheism. Later this hatred was reinforced by Christian, and later Muslim, intolerance. Jewish ideas may have underpinned both faiths, but the refusal to embrace ‘the true and only’ divine relation infuriated religious zealots of the new religions.
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     “America’s progressive Jews, dominant in the non-Orthodox rabbinate, have had a hard. . . time confronting the rise of left-wing anti-Semitism, which focuses on Jews as capitalist exploiters or Israel as a neo-colonialist power.  . . .
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     “The progressive Jews own sense of moral superiority and desire to push ‘social justice’ as the core of their identity — conflicts with the reality that, in both Europe and North America, the strongest anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel, political movements come from the left. In Great Britain, for example, the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has embraced the virulently anti-Jewish Hamas and has attended ceremonies laying wreaths at the graves of such ‘heroes’ as the terrorist killers at the 1972 Munich games.
     “Anti-Zionist, and anti-Jewish, sentiments are most commonly found in progressive bastions like college campuses, where ‘third world’ oriented academics push ‘disinvestment’ from Israel. Pitched merely as anti-Zionism, these same political warriors rarely favor actions against far more repressive states as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Worse yet, for the first time in decades, there are now anti-Semitic members of Congress, led by Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose pronouncements about Jews, money and ‘dual loyalty’ have been tolerated by a party leadership intimidated by the rising left.
     “We are witnessing the normalization of anti-Semitism. Democratic Presidential candidates, most recently Pete Buttigieg, seek out the blessings of the likes of Reverend Al Sharpton, a past dealer in anti-Semitic calumnies. The New York Times recently printed, in its International edition, a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu leading a blind, Kippur-wearing President Trump that would not have been out of place in Julius Streicher’s Nazi era Der Stürmer.
     “In Europe, far more than America, anti-Semitism is also rising on the right. In Belgium, Jewish caricatures have been on display at local festivals despite complaints. And in Germany, one official of the rightist Alternative for Germany party, dismissed the Holocaust as ‘a speck of birds*** in 1,000 years of glorious German history.’ “ (Ref. 8)

     Here again, the message from the anti-Semites, the anti-Zionists, and the anti-Israel’s is consistently: Be like me – OR ELSE! Or, put more strongly in this case: Be like me – OR ELSE we will Be JUDENREIN!

     America has no place for those who spread the message of hate, intolerance, violence and bigotry. America has no place for those who spout the vile message of Be like me – OR ELSE! America has been, is, and must remain a nation of diversity, where all points of view deserve to be heard. We need to be reminded of the motto of the United States, appearing on the Great Seal: E pluribus unum! - Out of many, one! The lessons of history all too clearly tell us that when there is no diversity in a society, that society sinks into despotism, totalitarianism, intolerance, lethargy, and, ultimately, its own demise.


  1. Boston Pride Week’s 49th Anniversary Sets New Records, , 12 June 2019.
  2. 'Straight Pride' parade held in Boston,, 31 August 2019.
  3. Call ugliness and violence what it is, Editorial, Boston Herald, page 18, 3 September 2019.
  4. Antifa (United States), Wikipedia, Accessed 4 September 2019.
  5. Intolerance,, accessed 3 September 2019.
  6. When America Despised the Irish: The 19th Century’s Refugee Crisis, Christopher Klein,,
    accessed 3 September 2019.
  7. U.N. experts attribute rise in U.S. violence to intolerance and racism,, 9 August 2019.
    Joel Kotkin,, 6 May 2019.
  15 November 2019 {Article 387; Suggestions?_35    
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