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Published: Friday, 10/14/2005

Ignore the haters

THE neo-Nazi group that plans to march in North Toledo tomorrow has every right to exercise its First Amendment freedom. But Toledoans have every right to ignore the hateful nonsense the group wants to spread.

To be clear, Toledo does not welcome anybody who fosters racial division and discord. But as unsavory as it may be, the National Socialist Movement is doing what the U.S. Constitution says citizens can do: peaceably assemble - the key word being "peaceably."

In this case, the local controversy is especially troublesome because it seems to have mushroomed from a simple and simmering dispute between two Bronson Avenue neighbors. A white man and a black woman unfortunately can't see eye-to-eye enough to be cordial. He claims there's a problem with black gang activity, and the Nazi wannabes are trying to exploit it.

Perhaps the purveyors of hate hope their demonstration will turn violent. Maybe they're in the wrong area. Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre says the north end is a pretty quiet neighborhood. Although there is gang activity in Toledo, it's not a major problem in that part of town, he added.

Most Toledoans recognize the potential for a problem. However, we believe local citizens will rise above the provocation. That's what the Erase the Hate campaign relayed last week, and its message was clear: Toledo is not a magnet for hate groups.

Let the neo-Nazis exercise their constitutional right and march. Those who live in the area are free to stay away, attend the Erase the Hate rally at noon Saturday at the Zablocki Senior Center on Lagrange Street, or simply draw the curtains.

Maybe that would be the equivalent of a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it - though we must apologize to trees everywhere for the metaphor.

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