Suffolk County, New York police arrested Edward Perkowski on Thursday after the police allegedly found in a raid of his home items including tens of thousands of dollars in cash, several guns and knives, ammunition, a bit of marijuana and illegal mushrooms, and some bomb-making instructions. Oh yeah, the town of Brookhaven condemned Perkowski’s house to boot. This appears to be yet another example of a government cracking down on people for nonviolent actions. In this case we have a convergence of the wars on cash, guns, and drugs, as well as government’s intolerance of free speech.
Here is another important aspect of this story: Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini is stirring up fear that Perkowski and his brother Sean, who was also arrested, are dangerous because they are Nazis. The brothers might even have been planning a mass killing like we saw in Orlando, Florida last week, Sini suggests.
The evidence for the brothers’ supposed Nazism is apparently that a Nazi flag, framed photo of Adolph Hitler, and other materials related to Nazi ideas were found in the house. Of course, the presence of such items in a house does not establish that any of the house’s occupants subscribe to any particular ideology. Plenty of people interested in history have such items. Plenty of American soldiers, after being deployed to Europe in World War II, returned to America with such items as well. In fact, Tania Lopez reports at Newsday that relatives of Perkowski say the Nazi stuff belonged to Perkowski’s grandfather, a World War II veteran.
But, let us suppose Sini is right that the brothers are Nazis or neo-Nazis. So what? That is not a crime in America — even in Suffolk County. Neither is the fact that someone is a Nazi or neo-Nazi reason to conclude that that person will take part in the initiation of force against anyone. Some people who call themselves Nazis rob, assault, or murder. Others do not. The same goes for people who call themselves communists, Republicans, Episcopalians, accountants, you name it.
Nazis have rights, just like everyone else. If we allow people like Sini to convince us otherwise, then we accept a premise that can be used to support the government disrespecting other people’s rights as well because those people also hold any of various beliefs about which government officials can stir up fears.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.