Remember sitting in history class thinking to yourself, “how did they let that happen?” Remember reading the Diary of Anne Frank and telling yourself, “I would have resisted”? Remember every year since the Holocaust, when around the world people express their sadness for the event and their solidarity with the Jewish community?
Remember sitting in history class thinking to yourself, “I would have marched”? Remember looking at pictures of Colored signs and White Only signs and telling yourself, “I wouldn’t have stood for this”? Remember reading, seeing, and listening to the words of MLK and Rosie Parks and Ruby Bridges and agreeing with them? Remember all the Facebook posts and Tweets you sent to commemorate Black History Month?
Now that you have all those memories swirling in your head, try to remember something else: did you ever think of Rosa and Ruby in the same way you thought of Hitler and Himmler? No, probably not. You thought about Ruby and Rosa in the same way you thought about Anne: inspiring, and someone you definitely would’ve stood up for if you were alive then. Would you have compared the speeches of Herr Hitler to those of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Most likely not. You caption your Black History Month posts with the words of MLK; you don’t caption your Holocaust remembrance posts with the words of the Fuhrer.
So why, exactly, are we here now? Why are you not outraged by the President? Do you believe him when he says the “alt-left” is as dangerous as neo-nazis? If I asked you that, you would probably say no. You would deny any racism or anti-Semitism. You would point to your lovely posts promising you would’ve done so much if you were alive then. Yet, you stay silent now. You don’t want to be judged by family or friends who have different opinions than yours. You don’t want to share your political views at all. You don’t want to speak up for fear of being spoken back to.
Remember all those times I had you remember in the beginning of this post? None of those thoughts were political then. You didn’t think denouncing Nazism was a political issue; you thought it was the only possible thing to do. And you didn’t think of the words and actions of civil rights icons was wrong or too violent or not necessary or in any way similar to the actions of Nazis; you sat and praised Martin, and Rosa, and Ruby. And, as always, you told yourself you would’ve marched, and resisted, if only you had been alive then.
To all those whom this describes:
You weren’t alive then. You are alive now. Remember that the next time you post in remembrance of anything else.