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A Lack Of Comprehension

If you think this movie supports Nazism, you are sorely mistaken.
If you think this movie supports Nazism, you are sorely mistaken.

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If you think this movie supports Nazism, you are sorely mistaken.

PHOENIX -- I recently attended the Rise Against concert in Mesa, Ariz. I call their music "hippycore" -- they're a punk band comprised of vegans with a progressive political message.

It was the first time Rise Against had played Arizona in three years. Following the passage of SB 1070, the band joined Sound Strike, a group of artists engaged in a boycott of the state. The strike's focus is now shifting from boycott to benefit concerts, which opened the door for two Rise Against shows in Arizona. The proceeds from the Flagstaff concert went to the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.

So knowing all this about the band, and having listened to their songs for several years, you can imagine my surprise when I saw a group of apparent skinheads, complete with swastika tattoos, in the crowd.

We know the hate community is alive in the Southwest; Fronteras did a recent series on The Search for Tolerance. A story by Adrian Florido highlighted symbols that hate groups use to identify themselves.

But it is still startling to come face-to-face with those symbols and behavior. During a set break the band played video of the final speech from Charlie Chaplin's " The Great Dictator." And a handful of audience members gave the Nazi salute. My jaw dropped.

What struck me most was the complete lack of comprehension on the part of these people, who were mostly young men. Did they realize "The Great Dictator" was not a tribute to Hitler? Had they ever truly listened to the lyrics of Rise Against songs? Did they realize their ticket purchase supported The Florence Project?

My husband compared it to people who consider Bruce Springsteen's " Born In The U.S.A." to be a patriotic song celebrating America because of its catchy chorus.

I don't think everyone needs to subscribe to a band's political philosophy to enjoy its music. But realize how silly it looks when you appear to completely miss the concept. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that media literacy is so poor in a state that ranks 49th in education spending.

Tracy Greer became KJZZ's Managing Editor in January 2015. Prior to that she spent three years as the station's Digital Media Editor, a position that satisfied both her inner tech geek and her passion for journalism. She previously held a similar position for the North County Times in San Diego County, Calif.