Monday, April 28, 2014
X is for Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as an irrational fear or hatred of foreigners. Of strangers. Of their politics or cultures. Just a word. Until those irrational fears fester and grow like a giant whitehead on the face of mankind eventually oozing blood and puss. And although the wound may heal, it will leave a massive scar.
I am scarred. My family is scarred. But it is not the scar of the A6056 tattooed in blue across my father’s forearm. It is the murders tattooed across our families’ history. That can never be removed. The slaughter of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and future descendants that will never exist.
As the first generation of a holocaust survivor on this Yom Hoshoah day – Holocaust Remembrance Day – I think of what might have been. The family my children will never know. I vow like many others to never forget and to never let it happen again.
Sometimes I feel that Latino immigrants are the new scapegoat in the US. Not only undocumented, but documented as well. I get the rational arguments. That if you want to live here, you learn to speak the language. That if you come here illegally, you shouldn’t be allowed to stay. But I sense the shadow of xenophobia along the perimeter. They are not like us. They are foreigners. Go away.
And now in the Ukraine. A recent video showed three masked men handing out fliers outside a Donetsk synagogue. The fliers demanded that all Jews older than 16 register with the new leadership of the Donetsk Republic – the loosely organized masked men who had taken over the regional administrative building in the center of the city. They were published on what appeared to be Donetsk Republic letterhead and released on the second day of Passover. Representatives of the pro-Russia group denied involvement in the letter’s creation and distribution.
Xenophobia is rearing its ugly head again. Like a monster in a bad Godzilla movie. It’s Xenophobia vs. Godzilla and who will be the victor? But just like in those old Godzilla movies, sometimes our mouths are moving but there’s nothing coming out and we need to speak up.
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.