by Justin Rosario
Less than three weeks ago, Heather Heyer was brutally murdered by a Trump supporting neo-Nazi after he drove his car at high speed into a crowd of protesters. At that same rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Deandre Harris, a black man, was brutally beaten by at least four white men. Another Trump supporter wearing body armor fired his handgun into the crowd of counter-protesters but doesn’t appear to have hit anyone.
White nationalists saw all of this as a triumph.
Three days later, Donald Trump stood up in front of the world and invented from whole cloth a moral equivalence between violent white nationalists and the people fighting them in the streets. He argued with the “fake news” that the “alt-left” were the real aggressors and that his followers were the victims. He was extremely insistent on this point.
White nationalists were ecstatic to essentially have the presidential seal of approval.
A few days later, I sat my 7-year-old daughter Anastasia down and watched Vice’s report on the events in Charlottesville. They had embedded a reporter and camera with the neo-Nazis and they were filming as the violence escalated from Friday night into Saturday morning, peaking with the murder of Heyer. If you haven’t seen the report, I urge you to do so because it shows the true face of what we’re dealing with. The “alt-right” likes to pretend they’re just internet trolls and they’re only marching to fight for “free speech” but the reality is that they are preaching white nationalism and genocide and I felt it was important that my daughter see and understand the monsters walking among us.
Just to be clear, if you march with people chanting anti-Semitism and do not walk away, you are implicitly endorsing their hatred with your very presence. You are not a fine person. You are a monster just like the Nazis.
Fortunately, over the last two years, I have been introducing my daughter to the concept of racism and bigotry so the Vice video was not a huge shock to her. As one of the few white students in a highly diverse school, the idea that someone is “better” than other people because of the color of their skin was patently ridiculous to Anastasia and it took a bit of effort to convince her that people actually thought that way. From there, we read an age-appropriate book about Martin Luther King and the March on Washington in which she was introduced to the KKK, slavery and the Civil War and the concept of civil rights.
We eventually got to a book about Anne Frank (not her diary) and that necessitated a conversation about who the Nazis were and how they killed millions of people just like us for the crime of being Jewish. Being a 7-year-old, she understood it enough to be disgusted by it but this was a long time ago on a continent far far away so the whole thing remained a bit abstract.
But Charlottesville changed that, didn’t it?
Now I have to explain to my little girl that the monsters never really went away, they were just waiting in the shadows to come back out. I need her to understand that there are people in America, too many of them, that would gleefully kill her for being a Jew and kill every single one of her friends for being the “wrong” color. I need her to understand that daddy is going to protest against the monsters and someday might not come back because one or more of them decided to fire their ever-present guns into a crowd. More importantly, I need her to understand why I have to go protest against the monsters.
I’ve written before that although I am a terrible Jew that observes none of the traditions, I am acutely aware that won’t mean a damn thing when the Nazis come knocking on my door. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew and to white nationalists like the ones in Charlottesville, the only good Jew is a dead one. Murdering Those People is an honor to them and It’s just a matter of time until America’s monsters feel so emboldened that one of them is going to walk into a school very much like my daughter’s to kill as many “mongrels” as they can.
I’m not part of the Antifa movement but I absolutely support what they are doing. The right wants to call them “terrorists” but there is no such thing as an “anti-Nazi” terrorist. All there is are people fighting to stop them before they can take power and crank up the crematoriums again.
You cannot separate Nazi ideology from genocide anymore than you can separate the egg from a cake. It is a foundational aspect and pretending otherwise is suicidal. I am many things but suicidal is not one of them.
For those who question the wisdom of inflicting such hate on the psyche of a child, I can only say this: If she’s old enough to be murdered by Nazis, she’s old enough to learn about the monsters that walk again in daylight with their heads held high, knowing the president is on their side. Burying our collective head in the sand didn’t save the Jews that refused to flee Germany when they could and it won’t save us here. It would be wonderful if our children could grow up carefree in a world devoid of hate but that’s not the world we live in. Better to prepare them now for what might lay ahead than let it catch them unawares.
I’m not a religious man but God damn Republicans and Republican voters for poisoning our great nation like this. I will never forget and I will never forgive.
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