Lists. It’s personal.
I saw families being ripped apart today on the news. A mother, a father, a grandparent being hauled away by someone in a police or military type uniform, holding a list, checking off names. Hispanic names. I’m sure that some saw this and thought, “well they are here illegally, you know.”
These are not the first “lists,” of course. Just six decades ago there were lists of Japanese Americans. Then there were the McCarthy lists of writers, directors and actors, all “communists” who had “infiltrated” Hollywood. They weren’t rounded up, just shunned and blocked from working at their craft.
But just ask Japanese Americans what happened to their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. More than 100,000 during World War Two were rounded up, put on trains and forced to live in “internment camps.”
Japanese American citizens for God’s sake! By the thousands, with two of the largest “camps” located here in Arizona.
In the 50’s it was “Operation Wetback,” a federal scheme to locate, capture and deport thousands of Mexicans. Overall there were 1,078,168 apprehensions according to official records. Most had done little more than respond when American corporate agriculture recruited them to harvest crops, turning the corporation’s plants into profits.
Now take all of that; 100,000 Japanese American citizens, hundreds of American citizens in government and the entertainment industry and over a million Hispanics. All of them together and multiply that by 21st century technology. The lists are now files. Millions of files. With a smartphone ‘click’ thousands of uniformed police or military can identify and arrest almost anyone. Anywhere. Any time. And they do.
After a while “the list” becomes normalized. Daily raids become a yawn. The clown president keeps us entertained while the raids continue just below the surface as injustice moves toward atrocity.
Each time I see another Hispanic mother being torn away from her children I can’t help seeing the lists of my own relatives. Carefully detailed lists with names of mothers, fathers and children; Address, date of birth, occupation, and what train was carrying them to which concentration camp.
A 1939 list details the lives of thousands of Jews living in Krakow, Poland. Each was made to wear a white armband with a blue star of David so they could be more easily identified.
In just 6 years from 1939 to 1945, only 4 years before I was safely born in the U.S., thousands of Jews were slaughtered in Krakow. Millions more were murdered throughout German held cities and countries.
Just another liberal playing the “Nazi” card? No. This is no card game.
If we have learned anything from the past it is that people who control countries are capable of doing terrible things even without the it’s citizens knowing about it. Today we are living in a world quickly becoming controlled by people who make up lists and then do exactly what they said they would do if American voters gave them control.
And God help us, we have.
I keep seeing more Hispanic families being torn apart, names checked off as frequent raids continue. I am compelled to shout about this insanity. This is personal for me. I know about lists.
From Krakow List
Abraham Löbl GROSSFELD
Fryda Lea GROSSFELD
Izrael Salomon GROSSFELD
Jakub Markus GROSSFELD
Mirla Czarna GROSSFELD
Sara Lea GROSSFELD
So what can be done? First, be very clear about this.
Japanese American families were living out their lives when World War Two erupted. Many sent their sons off to fight for their country. And many died. They couldn’t have imagined that they’d be they be ordered to leave their homes and sent off to “internment camps.”
But they were.
In 1947 Hollywood, writers, directors, actors and virtually anyone associated with the entertainment industry watched along with the rest of the country as “McCarthyism”spread like a virus across the country. They didn’t see the “Red Scare” coming that ended careers and destroyed families.
But it came at them anyway.
Author/activist Naomi Wolf wrote how the 1920’s and 30’s Germany was a modern, open society. There was freedom of the press with multiple newspapers expressing differing viewpoints. The German film industry produced pictures with actors that become stars. Jewish Germans were woven into the fabric of the society. Physicians. Lawyers. Teachers. Shopkeepers. Bankers and so on. Like most Germans they ignored a small political group with an unknown leader if acknowledged at all.
But the “National Socialist” party — the “Nazi’s”, grabbed control of their country and Jewish lives nonetheless.
For as long as anyone could remember, Mexicans and workers from Latin America would come across the U.S. southern border to provide the manual labor needed to harvest crops that fed a nation. They were underpaid and subjected to terrible conditions. But it was more than they could get at home. In 1942 when the Bracero Program agreement between Mexico and the United States was launched, workers were guaranteed basic human rights (sanitation, adequate shelter and food) and a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour. They couldn’t have known that within a decade they’d be rounded up and deported.
But “Operation Wetback” did happen and they were its victims.
And now, in 21st century America, the dreadful link between those unforeseen, unrecognised events lives again. Blaming minorities and “international bankers” for the loss of jobs to foreign countries. Preparing to launch a new, computerized version of the “Wetback” attacks. Moving to turn America into a closed society by undermining the credibility of news organizations. But even now at least half the country can’t see what is happening day after day.
Tectonic shifts in societies are difficult to see in real time. But not impossible. We all learned how in school when our English teacher first said a phrase: “the willing suspension of disbelief.”
Our “disbelief” that such terrible men can gain power and do terrible things must be suspended. Now.
So what to do?
Tell people what you see. Tell them again and again and again. Tell them with letters to newspaper editorial pages. Tell them with protests and demonstrations and radio talk shows.
Tell your family.
Explain to them just how close they are to becoming just names & numbers on a list.