In the wake of the protest in Charlottesville, a slew of violent Semitic acts, and the call for the removal of Confederate statues, many people have found their voice. Others haven’t, and a re-occurring war cry from progressives is that silence is compliance.
I have stayed largely silent on these issues. And it is not because I can condone anything that happened in the name of white supremacy.
I’m a Jewish American, and I don’t know how to talk about Charlottesville and the rise of anti-Semitism.
And it’s not because I can “see both sides”. To be honest, I’m not willing to look at both sides. For me, there is no justification in anything that can be said by a side that touts a Nazi flag.
I know how fortunate I am to be a member of a family who has found opportunity in the states. I identify with American values and culture. And I am proud of the potential I see in my country.
But I am absolutely repulsed by American citizens who can wear and wave a swastika and think that they are representative of our great nation.
There is nothing patriotic about the protestors and terrorists who demonstrated in Charlottesville and the subsequent acts of hate and vandalism that occurred after.
In addition to my American identity, and in cohesion with my American identity, I have a strong Jewish identity. And my Jewish identity can’t fathom why anyone could ever even consider recreating the demonstrations and reviving the rhetoric of such a repulsive movement and period in world history.
The atrocities inflicted by Hitler and his Nazis in World War II and The Holocaust are not something to be taken lightly. And it really shouldn’t be. There is absolutely no situation in which people should ever consider following the hatred, ignorance, bigotry, and violence of the Nazi mandate.
When I see a swastika flying over an angry crowd of white men, I am afraid. I am also livid. Because I know that only a few decades ago people like me looked at these crowds, and maybe without realizing it, saw their doomed demise.
And that strikes a cord. Everything changes when you realize you could be personally involved.
I didn’t live through World War II and The Holocaust. But that doesn’t mean the gravity of such a tremendously horrific period in history has not been ingrained inside of me.
I can’t look at a Nazi flag, Nazi armbands, or the Nazi salute without feeling nauseous. I have learned about the MILLIONS of people like me who were systematically, and brutally murdered FOR NO REASON other than hatred and ignorance.
I know I’m not the only one who took history classes and learned of the atrocities the Nazis committed.
So can someone please explain to me why people who belonged to a nation that fought AGAINST the Nazi party could later adopt Nazi dogma?
If you’ve read this far, and are thinking, “Well I’m not Jewish, so how can this affect me the same way?” I have an answer for you.
It wasn’t just 6 million Jews that the Nazis killed during World War II. The death toll reaped by Hitler and his Nazis reached approximately 11-12 million. If 6 million are Jews, that leaves between 5-6 million people of OTHER backgrounds and identities who were also senselessly murdered because they didn’t fit into a ideologic and irresponsible “aryan identity”. You might’ve fallen into one of those categories.
If you’ve read this far, and are thinking, “It’s a race issue today. It’s not the same as it was.” I have an answer for you too.
You’re right. It is largely a race issue. I have no disputes. I’m just telling you what I see when I look at the news and see stereotypical white men waving Nazi flags, wearing Nazi armbands and doing the Nazi salute.
When I see these abhorrent images, I am afraid, I get nauseous, I get angry, and I get upset. And you should too. This is a humanity issue. No matter what racial, cultural, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, or political background you come from or identify with, you should be sick when you see these images and you should instantly want to denounce such hateful displays.
At the core of almost every belief system, there is something about the way we should treat others. And usually it tells us to treat others with respect and dignity. That should be a basic human right. And these protestors and terrorists are threatening and violating basic human rights.
Our country may have been founded on the independence of white men, and the notion that all white men should be free and equal, and are entitled to basic human rights. But that doesn’t mean, in the 21st century, we can’t rewrite that mandate to better fit the identity of the United States of America.
We have the ability to take American history and values, the very core we were founded upon, and extend them to all citizens who live in this nation. We are the people, that our constitution addresses. It is up to us to end the exclusionary biases the country may have initially been founded on, and extend the rights and privileges once only afforded to white male property owners to all the faces of American citizens that reside in our nation again.
I don’t have a concrete plan that will eradicate hate and foster peace and unity. I know that is a lofty goal. But I don’t think it is unreasonable. Humans come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and it is about time the entire human race accepts this.