Recently, the Jewish world paid homage to the Holocaust through Yom Ha'shoah -- The Day of Remembrance. On this day and others
When it comes to understanding the seemingly unprecedented Donald trump phenomenon, sometimes history provides some interesting parallels that can serve as a modern warning sign. In this case, I'm thinking of Austria in the 1930s, a nation that shared much culturally, politically and linguistically with its neighbor Germany but had only one-tenth its population. Sound familiar?
Trump's scapegoating of Muslims, Hispanics, blacks and other "others" for political gain is exposing a racist ugliness, and dangerously inflaming it. Who knows how big the fire might get? "Never forget" became a Jewish slogan in hopes our collective memory might prevent another Holocaust, but also because we can't forget. It defines us. So as hard as it is to hear Hitler's name all over the news, let it at least remind us why we must stop Trump and all leaders who traffic in racism and xenophobia before such hate defines anyone else.
Suddenly, I became aware that this comment thread had opened a window for me into the American ideal of freedom and how virulently many Americans support the First Amendment without any consideration of the violence that hate speech causes. I realized that the concepts of inclusivity, diversity and multiculturalism that I had studied were not the first things on these people's minds. I began to think that these concepts didn't figure into their equation at all.
Donald Trump's ascension signals the death of the American dream and the beginning of the end of the American Empire. When half of the electorate has given up on the traditional leadership, the ties that used to bind all classes of American society are coming unravelled.
I'll tell you how it feels to hear Trump -- a front-running candidate to lead the world's most powerful country -- say he wants a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." How it feels to hear supporters say "send them all back."
All at once the juxtaposed impact of camp crashed down on me like a giant wave. My parents' camp, my camp, my kids' camp, my MOL kids' camp. Now this. The barrack at Birkenau concentration/extermination camp is a stark reminder. A picture in my mind I will not soon forget.
Whether we like it or not, we live in the shadow of Neville Chamberlain's Munich deal with Hitler. It must affect our perspective on any agreement of this nature. What we learned from Munich, though, was that deals do not finalize the results. What Hitler absolutely taught us was that what one says and even promises is not necessarily what one means.
On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and head of one of the most powerful families in Europe at the time, is on a visit to Sarajevo in Bosnia, one of the provinces of the empire. The aforementioned title character of the novel, Johan Thoms, is assigned the task of being Franz Ferdinand's chaffeur during his visit. He fails, and indirectly causes World War One.
(caption: street graffiti on Bayreuth sidewalks showing Wagner sticking out his tongue and his "w" initial) BAYREUTH, GERMANY