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NEVER AGAIN? THOUGHTS ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

In the past, if I marked Holocaust Remembrance Day at all, it was with a bit of reflection or perhaps an ironic tweet about the nation’s rightward drift. For the most part, it’s all been rather abstract.

1/27, in case you weren’t sure, marks the liberation of the camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This year it comes a few weeks after actual Nazis, stirred by the nonstop propaganda of a bona fide maniac and his enablers, broke into the U.S. Capitol and tried to overthrow democracy.

Fascist signifiers abounded in this crowd, including the now-notorious “Camp Auschwitz” shirt, another that read “6MWE” (that stands for “Six Million Wasn’t Enough”) and the logos and slogans of myriad white-power groups, fascist militias and other extremists. They smeared their shit on the walls of Congress. They carried weapons and zip ties. They took trophies.

Six people died. Communications among the insurrectionists chillingly advised they seal the entire Congress in the underground tunnel and “turn on the gas.”

Yes, they failed. No, Trump wasn’t able to use their predations to install himself as president for life. But now that the former President is at least being impeached for leveraging his lies to suborn this nightmare, it’s clear that his party plans to let him off the hook. In fact, they’re already acting as if the whole thing never happened. Which is why all those #NeverAgain posts ring a little hollow for me this time around.

I’m also reminded that another Trumpian, Robert Gregory Bowers, deranged by incessant right-wing gibberish about George Soros-immigrants-something-something, shot up the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, killing 11. It's rarely mentioned nowadays.

During World War II, a few dozen of my ancestors on my father’s side were slaughtered by the Nazis and their allies in Riga, Latvia. They were forced to strip, dragged to the edges of giant pits and shot; their bodies tumbled into the trenches on top of the other dead. I sometimes think of the ones who didn’t immediately die and bled out, naked, in their mass grave with the bubbes they’d just chatted with at the market and the zaydes they’d seen at schul.

So there’s a little Holocaust Remembrance for you. And as my mind pivots from that historical horror to the present moment, I have to ask: How many people in my own government would do the same thing to me, if the leadership commanded it?

When the next enraged mob of Nazis comes looking for vengeance because of Black people voting or migrant caravans or Jews controlling the media or whatever, how much devastation will they cause? And how quickly will we be expected to forget about it?

Never Again? I wouldn’t count on it.

 

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