Remarks made on social media reveal possible rise of neo-Nazism in Oak Park

Remarks made on social media reveal possible rise of neo-Nazism in Oak Park

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Madison Hatfield - Director of Education

Several Oak Park High School students have recently come under scrutiny after they posted various tweets concerning anti-Semitism and Adolf Hitler, former leader of the Nazi Party.  These tweets were released in lieu of Hitler’s birthday on April 20. 

Oak Park Unified School District Superintendent Tony Knight launched an investigation into the Twitter scandal after outraged parents and students informed him of the tweets.  Parents also expressed their concern of an alleged “Ninja Crew” that was rumored to be bullying groups of students that were primarily Jewish.  This group has been reported to brag about drawing swastikas, the symbol of the Nazis; however, there has been no evidence to prove such actions.  Angered parents demanded the students be suspended or expelled.

“I’m appalled by [the tweets],” said parent Kristi Pollard to The Acorn.  “I don’t think kids get the full thrust of what Twitter is.”

Parents of the accused students were also alarmed by their children’s actions.  They acknowledged the cruelty of the tweets but criticized the fact that the children’s names were publicly released.

“Although no crime was committed, I feel these students should be ashamed of what was said on Twitter,” said junior Walter Piszker.  “Many people use the Internet as a mask to hide from consequences, but this is an example of how that can go wrong.”

Though the racist comments were intended to be comical, many OPHS students were not amused.  Fellow classmates and teammates vocalized their disgust and disappointment.  However, they also believe that they should be given the opportunity to apologize for their actions.

“People can surprise you at times,” said an OPHS student to The Acorn.  “I think they can learn from his mistake and apologize to the school as a whole.”

With neo-Nazism rising in Europe once again, some are concerned that anti-Semitic views may rise in the U.S.  The neo-Nazis in Europe focus much of their hatred toward foreigners, not only Jews.  Although neo-Nazism is more prevalent in Europe, there have been some recent examples in the U.S. that have demonstrated anti-Semitic views besides Oak Park’s Twitter ordeal.  In early April, Frazier Glenn Cross shot and killed a boy and his grandfather outside of a Jewish community center in Kansas City, Kan.  Cross has been known to openly express his anti-Semitic views and is also the founder of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.  With neo-Nazism seemingly making its way into the U.S., Superintendent Knight wants to ensure that an incident like this never occurs again.

Although there is no evidence of criminal activity, OPHS does not tolerate any type of bullying.  Knight encourages community members to share information in order to further the investigation.

“Oak Park High School and all of our schools in Oak Park promote…acceptance of all people in a diverse society,” said Knight in a parent letter.  “We want our school community to know that the messages brought to our attention are racist, anti-Semitic and deeply hurtful.”