pleas from the past

I try my best to keep my politics out of social media. I stand pretty firmly on most issues that I believe in. However, I love a good debate. A great conversation with people who are educated and willing to have it. This summer I visited a lot of WWII sites. Hell, I live 100 feet away from where Germans killed 119 Polish citizens during the Warsaw Uprising. The atrocities that this city has endured and recovered from is mind-blowing. The scars of WWII seem to be permanent here and understandably so. Living here, visiting these historic sites it changes you. Watching the politics of America play out is painful, because so often these moves people are making are echoes of history coming back to remind us that we seem to have forgot their lesson.

I had a lot of trouble with visiting these historic sites and being hit with the parallels that are currently happening at home. How is that people can dismiss the pleas of the ghosts that once walked the haunted hallways of Auschwitz? I was staring at the grey wall through a thick blanket of tears and you could see it. The cement is tattooed with scratches from fingers of prisoners grasping for any shred of freedom, hope and then you see they stop. You can literally see the moment they give in, and let go. My heart was shattered when there were dried flowers resting on top of a bed, a loved one who never saw home.

Yes, it looks different in the present day but the similarities are striking. The amount of hatred I hear in the airwaves is alarming. There is a wave of oppression, demonisation and isolation of vulnerable communities that brings worry to many people, for the same actions were taken by Germany in the 1930’s.  A series of events that our leadership takes part in brings on these parallels, the “America is First” agenda, rhetoric that is used on a daily basis to spread xenophobia and fear. The comparison isn’t dramatic, it’s part of our responsibility to ensure that this never happens again.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
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You cannot compare the Holocaust or any other genocide to what is occurring in today’s political climate. However, you can look at how genocide and dictatorships gain momentum. How did they happen? And this, is where it scares me because throughout history dictators and mass killings do not just develop overnight, they start slowly. They begin with racist comments, ethnic myths, authoritarian behaviour and dehumanising language. This. Right here should be what stops you in your tracks. This is the language of the current administration and if it doesn’t shake you, it should. Ranging from calling Mexicans rapists, drug dealers and gangters, to African countries as “shithole nations”, and refusing to condemn neo-nazi’s on August 15th 2017 after a series of violent events in Charlottesville, it’s there. The writing is on the the wall.

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
― Primo Levi

I am not in any way shape or form saying that the this means we will be going down the path of genocide, but I just want to ensure you are aware that this is how it all begins. The darkest moments in history, the moments where freedom is stripped from civilizations begin this way. The Nazi’s didn’t start extermination until 1941, before then it was emigration and used camps to encourage this. How are cages and detainment centers much different then these camps? The immigration policy of the US is designed to keep out certain ethnic regions, the Nazi’s were trying to do just the opposite. 

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel

I don’t think that America is on it’s way to Nazi Germany, but we also aren’t headed anywhere good. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror. We need to challenge ourselves to feel uncomfortable, to admit to our wrongs. If we are lucky enough to have privilege we need to use it to amplify the voices that have been silenced. We need to listen to the pleas from the past, that are warning us about our future.

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There is a sinking and heavy feeling one gets within the walls of Auschwitz. It’s all encompassing and it just never really goes away. Your soul is shaken. The ground you walked on was once littered with human bodies praying for the night to break. The train tracks once carried people to their morbid fate. It’s devastating. It’s harrowing. And if we don’t want it to happen again, we must do something.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-Anne Frank

 

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