Nazism is back, and its tentacles are spreading across Europe, the former Soviet Union and even America, lawmakers warned in a conference held on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
World Without Nazism, the advocacy group that put on the event, says it has identified more than 1,000 resurgent Nazi groups today – 155 of which are within the United States.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., whose Democratic opponent in the 2012 primary was denounced for making anti-Semitic remarks, promised the members of European parliaments assembled at the conference that he would "shine whatever spotlight is necessary" to stamp out the rebirth of Nazi groups.
"I would certainly support hearings examining the rise of the neo-Nazi movements in this country as well as in other parts of the world," Jeffries told Whispers. "There are people all across the world now who find themselves in very difficult socioeconomic situations. In some instances, that is when hate-filled ideology can flourish, and when groups place blame on others who are racial, religious or ethnic minorities."
Jeffries' remarks came on the heels of an impassioned speech by human rights activist Eliza Goroya about the rise of hate groups in Greece, where the youth unemployment rate is more than 62 percent. Goroya warned that Golden Dawn, a right-wing, extremist political party with seats in the Greek parliament, "has become more aggressive, more dangerous and more popular" than ever before. Earlier this month, a Golden Dawn MP was ejected from parliament after he verbally abused a member of another party. As he was ejected, there were shouts from the crowd of "Heil Hitler," according to the Huffington Post.
Richard Brodsky, a former 14-term New York State assemblyman who chaired the anti-Nazism conference, told Whispers that "the reason we are schlepping these folks over from Russia and Greece" is because resurgent Nazism is now "an American political issue too."
"These things are real, they're coming, and they've got to be confronted," he said, noting that while America's hate groups adopt Nazi icons to a lesser extent than in Europe, they have similar ideologies. Brodksy is pushing for hearings on the issue by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, an independent government agency created in the 1970s to ensure continued improvement of relations between the former Communist bloc and the West.
The commission did not immediately respond to Whispers about whether it would support such hearings, but Brodksy said he was encouraged by the half-dozen members of Congress and officials from the State Department who attended Tuesday's event.