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Neo-Nazis 'provoke violence, get a media platform'

A pro-Trump rally attendee listens to an organizer speak at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle on Monday, May 1, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane
At a pro-Trump rally in Seattle on May Day 2017.

On Wednesday we aired an interview with a man who wore a Nazi armband in Seattle. According to people observing him on the bus and then downtown, this man harassed black people — by yelling and throwing bananas at them. 

When he arrived downtown, someone punched the guy out. 

(We asked him if he harassed people; he said no.)

The overwhelming response to our interview with this neo-Nazi was that we gave him a platform unchallenged. 

“That’s what they do – they provoke violence, and they get a media platform,” said Laurie Marhoefer, a historian of Nazi Germany at the University of Washington. “Once they’re put on the air, they’re very good at building bridges to moderate conservatives. They don’t sound like whackadoodle neo-Nazis.

“You had that guy on, and he made a lot of arguments about free speech,” Marhoefer continued. “Arguments that probably appealed really broadly to people who don’t agree with Nazism but who do agree that free speech is a value.

“The upshot is that the people who punched him and the people who support him look violent and look like extremists.”