If You Become What You Hate
Who Will Be Left To Speak For You?
I got a call yesterday from an old friend. I’ll call him Joel. We chatted about various things, among them his recent trip to the Holocaust Museum.
Joel is a devout, orthodox Jew and we spent a few minutes discussing the emotional impact of seeing the details of the Nazi decimation of the Jewish people.
I’m not a minority person, and I’m not Jew, or a Christian, or a Muslim or any religion. If I had to pick anything to be, I would be a Buddhist. But I understand the evil of religious bigotry and hate.
Our conversation wandered on to other topics and near the end I asked, jokingly, “So, are you all set to vote for Trump?”
“That’s a hard one,” Joel said. “He may wreck the country but Hillary is certain to destroy it.”
I paused for half a second then asked “How will she do that?”
“She will make the government bigger which will totally wreck the economy.”
We went back and forth a bit in a discussion that, to me, bordered on the surreal.
Finally I said, “I don’t understand this. You know that Hitler got power by claiming that Germany was in terrible trouble because of the Jews and promising that if they elected him he would fix the ‘Jewish problem.’
“Trump is using the same playbook, saying that America is in terrible trouble but once he’s elected he’ll make everything right by fixing the ‘Muslim problem’ and fixing the ‘Mexican problem.’ As a Jew how can you even consider voting for a man who’s strategy is promising to ‘fix’ the ‘Muslim problem’ the same way that Hitler got power by pledging to ‘fix’ the ‘Jewish problem’?”
“The difference,” Joel said, completely serious, “is that the Jews were innocent but there are a lot of bad Muslims out there. And, as a Jew I don’t much care about Muslims.”
I’m more than a little upset.
Since I’m a writer, my response, of course, is to write something.
Here’s my opinion. No one has to agree with me. You are all free to think I’m completely wrong and that Joel is right.
That’s fine. But I can’t just let this go.
If you are going to vote for Trump because:
- You think that this is a White people’s country that is supposed to be run by and for White people, that Black and Brown people are mostly welfare losers who stole the last election from that handsome White man, Mitt Romney, and wrongfully gave the country to that Black man, Barack Obama — basically, if you think that Donald Trump is your chance to Make America White Again, OK, I get it.
— You’re voting for what you perceive to be in your self interest.
— I don’t like it. I don’t agree with how you think, but I understand why you’re going to vote for Trump.
- You’ve seen the country send millions of good jobs overseas and condemn average, high-school graduate, ordinary people to poverty and food stamps, and you think that Trump’s going to make everything all better, I get it.
— I think you’re incredibly foolish to believe that a money-hungry, dishonest, megalomaniac narcissist is ever going to do anything that doesn’t put money and power into his own pocket, but I understand the appeal of a charlatan con-man who promises a miracle cure to a terminal cancer patient.
— Those terminal patients are fools to give Dr. Bilko their life savings based on the ridiculous belief that someone whom they know is a liar and a fraud is going to do anything but take their money and run.
— I think that those frightened, angry people who are watching their children’s American dream disappear over the horizon are incredibly stupid to think that Donald Trump ever could, or ever would, make anything better for them, but, OK, you’re going to vote for the miracle cure. I think you’re tragically wrong, but I get it.
- You can’t stand the idea of a female becoming President and Trump’s the only alternative to that. I understand.
— Of course, you can’t tell people, “I’m voting for Trump because a woman can’t be a good President” so, instead, you just say, “I hate Hillary” and let it go at that. You’re voting your prejudices.
— I think it’s screwed up to think that way, but, OK, I get it.
- You believe that government itself is the enemy and that except for the military there shouldn’t be a government at all and that Trump is miles closer to your philosophy than Hillary. I understand.
— I think that a society operated according to your principles would be hell for everyone, but you’re voting your principles, so, OK, I get it.
But then we get to someone like Joel.
If you’re a practicing Jew who’s going to vote for Trump, I refer you to this excerpt from a 1946 speech by the Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller:
“. . . when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year, 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it. It was printed in the newspapers.
“Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church?
“We thought: ‘Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians? Should I be my brother’s keeper?’
“Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables.
“I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian.
“He said: ‘Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money. They are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]?’
“Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public.
“Can we say, we aren’t guilty/responsible?
“The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland that were written in the newspapers.
“I believe we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa!”
Joel, who had recently visited the Holocaust Museum, surely knew Pastor Niemöller’s words. He surely knew Niemoller’s famous lines:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
“Because I was not a Socialist.
“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
“Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
“Because I was not a Jew.
“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Joel knew those words, but he didn’t care in the same way that the Christian Germans didn’t care when the Nazis came for the Communists. The Godless Communists were their enemies. They deserved it. Right?
That’s just what Joel said — the “bad” Muslims deserve it, don’t they?
I’m reminded of a line from The Unforgiven. A young man helps Clint Eastwood kill someone, and when the shooting’s over, embarrassed and upset, the boy tries to justify what he’s just done by telling Clint, “Well, he had it coming.”
“Kid,” Eastwood replies, “we all have it coming.”
If you had a time machine and could go back to 1934 and grab one of those respectable Christians off the streets of Berlin and drag him to the future and show him the bombed-out ruins, the stinking piles of bodies, the ovens and the mountains of extracted, gold-filled teeth wouldn’t you scream at him:
“You knew what that man was like! You knew that he was a mean, lying fraud and you voted for him anyway. This is your fault. You did this!”
Now, here we are. Another demagogue is scheming to get power by promising to crack down on another religion and another unpopular group that he figures can’t fight back, and no one, no one, understands that tactic better than a devout Jew.
If you’re a devout Jew and you’re going to vote for Donald Trump, is that your excuse, that it’s OK for him to do that because “The Muslims deserve it” — “They’ve got it coming”?
I’ve got a flash for you: the Germans thought that the Communists deserved it, that the gypsies deserved it, that the homosexuals deserved it and that, most of all, that the Jews deserved it.
Have you learned nothing?
Are you so blind that you’ve never noticed that you’ve chosen to become like your old tormentor?
Are you so full of political passion that you can’t look in the mirror and see your own enemy looking back at you?
If Trump gets elected is some Muslim with a time machine going to transport you fifty years into the future and scream in your face:
“This is your fault. You did this!”
You have no excuse.
You know better.
See my other posts at: www.Medium.com/@DavidGraceAuth