This entry contains an essay and a poem separated by asterisks.
Did you know that Nazi leaders used recommendations from Ivy League eugenicists and laws passed by southern United States politicians as the basis for their actions against Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and others they deemed subhuman?
In Chapter Eight of Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste, The Origins of Our Discontents,” (Random House, 2020), the author wrote about how German conservatives supported Adolf Hitler, a novice politician, thinking they could control him. She stated that the Fuhrer sold himself as the God-chosen savior of the forgotten Germans. She described a 1934 meeting during which seventeen Nazi bureaucrats admired how those recommendations and laws from these northern eugenicists and southern politicians were put into practice without sullying the United States’ reputation as the beacon of democracy. They couldn’t quite believe the Arkansas legislation that said how just one drop of Negro blood was enough to bar a person from white privilege, ultimately deciding that a person was deemed Jewish if they had one-sixteenth or more of Jewish blood. Three years later, Nazi leaders had killed or imprisoned many of their opponents while building secret complexes that would become concentration camps.
My father was raised in Dusseldorf, Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. His parents were successful business owners who regularly sent their children to Lutheran church services. Nonetheless, his entire family had to flee in the mid-1930s because German bureaucrats deemed that they had too much Jewish blood. My dad eventually landed in Boston where he received his PhD in chemistry from Harvard University when he was twenty-two years old.
Like many people of that era, Dad didn’t speak much about his experiences in Nazi Germany. When I was around nine years old, though, he described street fights between Nazi sympathizers and what their leaders called Socialists as we walked alone together on a Cape Cod beach. I was fascinated and horrified as he casually mentioned how he was hospitalized at least once because of the beatings he endured. My stepmom later told me about how he would thrash about in bed due to nightmares he refused to talk about.
Dad was unrelentingly hostile towards Christianity, explaining towards the end of his life that he could never forgive the German Lutheran church for supporting the Nazis instead of his family and other victims of their policies. “They just wanted more power,” he told me.
I wonder what Dad would say about what we in the United States are currently going through during the late summer of 2020. Increased admiration of pre-1960s Southern culture and a resurgence of KKK wannabes, white supremacists, and Nazis. Demonstrations that sometimes devolve into street fights, looting, arson, and other violence. Economic suffering during pandemic times. People in power rewarding victimhood and arrogant tribalism while punishing humility and empathy towards others. The parallel political journeys of President Trump and Adolf Hitler. President Trump’s worship of law enforcement officers and foreign autocrats. Too many Christian leaders perverting the Christian message while actively supporting President Trump in pursuit of power and influence.
So many rumors.
Caravans of illegal immigrants. Secret concentration camps for illegal immigrants. Cabals of cannibals, pedophiles, and Satanists hidden within the deep state apparatus. Fraudulent elections. Post office chicanery. The President as Russian spy. Deep state machinations. Mosques harboring terrorists.
So many rumors—and some might be true.
I think my dad would be worried.
For history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.
So Many Enemies
Socialists and Chinese and shithole countries
Antifa and immigrants
Progressives and conservatives
Black Lives Matter and athletes and artists
So many enemies…
Pelosi and AOC and crooked Hillary and nasty women
Abortionists and secular humanists and the queers
Kooks for the crippled and climate change wackos
Muslims and cancel culturists and academic snobs
Media moguls and PC corporate chiefs.
Those upities who dare to dream
While disagreeing with my stable genius.