I listen to radio that is considered both right and left wing. I do believe that there is always reason to listen to opposing sides. There are things to be learned as well as sense and nonsense. Yet on a conservative radio show the other day, while discussing the events in Charlottesville, I heard the moderator say that “the Jews” should stop using the Holocaust as an excuse. That it’s over and we should stop “whining” about it and continuing to use it using it as justification to complain. I was stunned.

I remember growing up in Brooklyn in a group of four six story buildings filled with middle class Jews that included those that survived the holocaust, their children, and grandchildren. Surrounding, a different culture and different religion. Every Halloween, they would come “Jew hunting.” Which meant that we had to disappear or face fists and rocks and anything else that might be thrown or used against us.

I remember in one of those annual confrontations, it being yelled “Hitler should have made more lampshades out of you!”

Just a few years ago, I was sitting in a conference room with a number of my co-workers when the head of the company, one who constantly referred to himself as the CEO and President, was boasting about buying an item at a discount. “I didn’t even have to Jew him down,” he said.

This all was brought home even more by an op-ed piece I just read – a partial excerpt from What Jewish Children Learned from Charlottesville:

This dirty Jew remembers every penny thrown at him.

The ones thrown from above, as we waited to be picked up from the public pool in my hometown on Long Island, our yarmulkes pinned to wet hair. By then, I was big enough to feel shame for the younger kids, who knew no better than to scurry around, as our local anti-Semites laughed.

I remember walking home from synagogue at my father’s side, in our suits and ties, and seeing a neighbor boy crawling on his hands and knees, surrounded by bullies, this time picking up pennies by force. I remember my father rushing in and righting the boy, and sending those kids scattering.

I’ll never forget the shame of it. Nor any of the other affronts, from the swastika shaving-creamed on our front door on Halloween to the kid on his bike yelling, “Hitler should have finished you all.”

There is the trauma of those assaulted by Nazis on American soil and the tragedy that is Heather Heyer’s murder that belongs to her and her family alone. And then there is what all the rest of us share — the pain and violence and the lessons we draw from them. Because the children who witness a day like that, and a president like this, will not forget the fear and disrespect tailored to the black child, the Muslim child, the Jewish child.

Saturday in Charlottesville was just one day, but think of that one day multiplied by all of us, across this great country. Think of the size of that setback, the assault on empathy, the divisiveness and tiki-torched terror multiplied by every single citizen of this nation. It may as well be millions of years of dignity, of civility, of progress lost.

Just from that one day.

There are no “fine people” that march with neo-Nazis, KKK, or white supremacists. None at all. No defense of them can be made. Ever. By anyone.

This has to be said. And remembered.

The Economist Cover, August 19th-25th Issue
Jon Berkely, illustrator
[click on image for the back story…]