Never Again

I grew up hearing the phrase “never again”. As a young Jewish boy, those two words embodied how I understood justice. It meant that we’d learn from the atrocities of the past, and do my part to ensure they wouldn’t happen on my watch.

Right now, that very idea of justice is under attack.

Last year, I visited four cities in Europe that used a have large Jewish communities. Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, and Budapest. In every one of them, I spent a day visiting historic synagogues and graveyards and museums. Not just because they represented my heritage, but because the people whose lives they represented were no longer around to speak for themselves. They were murdered in the Shoah.

Instead of museums and memorials, there should have been living people. Singing, dancing, praying, arguing, working, living people. But there were only stories and relics.

I sit now, at home in Chicago, and the feeling I’ve been trying to resist since August of 2015 is becoming impossible to resist any longer. The world is under attack. Sure, it always has been in some sense, but right now the danger is more real and palpable than any other time I can recall in my 22 years on this Earth. Fascism and Nazi is no longer just a specter haunting is. It is our frightening reality. Today, the President unilaterally attacked Americans solely on the basis of where they were born. People are being held at airports, unable to return home. And our leaders are largely silent.

It’s been eight days of Trump presidency, and we’re already at the “first he came for the Muslims” part. And we all know how this ends.

I will not be complicit in bigotry, racism, xenophobia, nor hatred. I will not let my silence stand as tacit endorsement for what is happening around me. I will not let others use parts of my identity to justify hatred. I will not stand idly by as injustice is committed.

I will not allow myself to wait until I can visit museums recognizing the atrocities this administration has promised. I will not allow them to erase the Shoah from history, as they attempted to do yesterday. I will not live in a world where there are memorials to those exterminated – because I refuse to live to see that happen.

First they came for the weak, the vulnerable, those who look different, dress different, speak different, worship different.

And I said never again to their hatred.