Good morning. Anything going on in the news lately?
You don’t say. White supremacists? And “counter-protesters,” as the news readers were calling them (I thought this was an interesting style choice, especially given how instantly universal it was)? Beating each other up with baseball bats and cans of sprayable weaponry? The biggots showed up wearing helmets and other military gear?
Some were brandishing guns?
And someone killed a person with a car?
Well. I hope the President of the United States had some strong words to say about this!
“I have a message to all of the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. My message is clear. We are stronger than you. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.”
No. Wait. That was Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Oh, yes. Here is what the Preznit said:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
What I can’t tell is if Trump thinks that hatred, bigotry, and violence occur on many sides, or just violence. But many people sure did notice what wasn’t said by our pretty, pretty Preznit.
When I was growing up, every couple of years they decided to teach us about the Holocaust again.
They’d drag out the black-and-white pictures of emaciated men stacked up in bunks, the gates of Auschwitz bearing the not at all ironic phrase, “Arbeit macht frei,” they’d tell us the astonishing numbers of humans who were extinguished via this horrible effort, six million, 12 million, wow, you’d think as a kid trying to take all this in, that sure is evil.
In college, I spent a semester studying the Shoah under one of the most brilliant professors in the world, Sol Friedman. Friedman’s approach to teaching this history was to have his students understand the truly murky depths of anti-Semitism in the world and how it has essentially fused itself into the marrow of human beings.
At least, that’s what I took from it.
I mean, they trace anti-Semitism to back before the Middle Ages. But going back that far is a little in the weeds. A few key and fairly recent historical events, though, might make you think.
- In 1492, Columus sailed the ocean blue. Also, Jews were being driven out of Spain.
- In 1791, Catherine the Great creates the Pale of Settlement in an effort to bounce Jews out of Russia
- In 1850, composer Richard Wagner–yes, “Ride of the Valkyries” Richard Wagner–publishes the essay Das Judenthum in der Musik. Among the notions discussed is the harmful myth that Jews actually rule the world.
- In 1903, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is first published. The book is a forgery, meant to reflect the Jewish plot for world domination. Many regimes in the Middle East proclaim it as fact to this day.
- In 1913, Menahem Mendel Beilis is acquitted of murder in Kiev, but only after his trial elicited charges that he conducted ritual murder because, you know, that’s what Jews do.
Now. I understand that the main point of contention between the “idiots” and the “counter-protestors” was more racial than it was regarding folks with crooked noses. But I know more about this than that. And I speak of it today because of a larger point:
This idea that this group of people is better than that group of people, and that that group of people is a problem and must be mitigated somehow, this is an idea so ancient that it lives within our DNA. It lives in the dirt. Adolf Hitler did not invent it. Nor did David Duke. This disease has been with us as long as cancer has.
And we now have a Preznit who cannot even remotely speak harshly of it because it is a part of what he is and how he came to power.
Those people you saw with the helmets and the shields yesterday on the CNN?
Those people are this Preznit’s base.
This is why he had to punt to false equivalence yesterday rather than to call out this festering illness and its horrifying breakout yesterday for what it is.
Way to go, America!