Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have always made for a compelling story. The KKK in LaGrange, Ga., provided this writer with his first television report for the Columbus, Ga., CBS affiliate in the early 1980s. We had no weekend news, but I was sent "just in case something happened."
My report was written on the way back to Columbus, at a restaurant, on a napkin, then put together for the Monday newscast. Thankfully, nothing happened.
As I recall, unfettered immigration and affirmative action were the talking points of the day. Sound familiar?
Now the neo-Nazis, demented cousins of the KKK, are goose-stepping to Chattanooga, still talking about immigration and using racial slurs to provoke coverage.
Liberals, 30 years removed from my first report, may again find an opportunity to equate Nazis to Republicans. After all, isn't illegal immigration a Republican talking point?
Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, as the neo-Nazis will point out; yes, the current administration is unconstitutionally ignoring laws to stem the tide, draining our culture and economy; and yes, in a sober irony, we now have more illegals in this nation than soldiers who braved the field to defeat Nazism.
But a kernel of truth is not an excuse for the kind of lies told over and over by Hitler and Goebbels, who infamously used such hatred to the detriment of the human race.
And we may, yet again, miss the historic truth that Nazism is not conservatism. The term Nazi is an abbreviation of the German phrase for National Socialism Party.
Communists want to own everything; Nazis want to control everything. They are simply opposing sides of the same tyrannical coin, both seeing themselves as statist gods. True conservatives want neither but want individuals to have liberty and control over their lives and destinies. No government should own you or control you other than to enforce a basic respect of one another and a fair rule of law.
Scapegoats always will be found by would-be tyrants and bigots to make political points -- not answers -- and hate always will be a weapon of choice in seeking press coverage. It's the chance to show "us versus them," and it makes for easy reporting, even on a napkin.
But can we truly ignore this gathering? As Edmund Burke put it, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Turning our heads is not an option.
But could we turn our hearts -- and maybe others -- on that Saturday and pray for the victims of our enemies, and even our enemies themselves?
Why not have a competing event throughout Chattanooga and across the Tennessee Valley, pulling together all faiths, all races, all people of good will? It would require Christians, Jews, Muslims and pagans to band together -- a tall order.
To my former press colleagues, a challenge: Band together with one reporter, one videographer, one still photographer -- the ultimate press pool. That way no one misses the story but also concentrates on the true story.
It might even make national headlines. If you want good public relations, strike a blow against the Nazi mindset.
We can write this story on a napkin or on our hearts.
I will never forget the last video clip I shot for the Klan story on that warm spring day in LaGrange decades ago. While walking away from the rally, its hate and anger, I noticed a church sign with a simple message. It aired as the last shot of my first story but can and should be the first shot on such rallies that divide us.
It read: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34).
Mike Chambers, a former Chattanooga broadcaster and reporter, lives on Lookout Mountain.