Thursday, April 20, 1978

Nazis in Skokie

The Chicago suburb where I grew up turned locus of national news in 1978 when a group of neo-Nazis decided to celebrate Hitler's birthday by provoking the sizable Jewish population with a march through town. The ethical and ethnic complexities multiplied when the ACLU, with a heavy Jewish membership, fought efforts to prevent the Nazis from marching, on free-speech grounds.

I was a thousand mile away, in Salem, Ore., where you might find all of 30 Jewish families among the 80,000 people. I was definitely an exotic. I realized that in writing about the event I could explain the emotional stakes to people far removed from my life experience. And it would help me sort out the issues for myself.

The paper ran my first-person story on the front page, as you see here (note the typewriter; this was still the day of hot type). It drew a great reception. For a little while I was a local celebrity out there.

I was thrilled when the story got more exposure in the Miami Herald, which ran it several weeks later.
(Click on an image to enlarge it. Hit 'previous page' to reduce it.)