I’m horrified, shocked, furious about the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend. White Nationalists, whatever the hell that means, marched supposedly to protect the statue of a man who committed treason 150 years ago and then lost a war.
How to pick a winner, right?
They wore Nazi insignia. They gave the Nazi salute. They chanted about the Jews “replacing” them.
Their true goal, obviously, was not to stand up for old dead Robert E. Lee. It was to provoke a fight with all those awful people who they believe are trying to take away their white male role as masters of the continent.
They succeeded. There was fighting. There was death.
They got their headlines.
Now these radical deplorables are planning to march on Boston. The capital of the state where I live. They want to chant their pathetic racist drivel on the streets where Sam Adams rallied patriots to action in the 1770’s.
So what should I do?
I don’t want to drive my 61 year old self into the city. I don’t want to march on a nice late summer day. I don’t want to risk being hit, or shot, or run over. I don’t want to give these pitiful bullies so much of my attention.
My first job as an adult was interpreting from Russian to English and back again for Jewish immigrants who were arriving here from the Soviet Union. I helped them find housing, took them to the doctor, took them shopping.
I heard their stories.
I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms. I touched those tattoos.
How can I NOT march to stand up for the old Russian woman who told me how she had run away from the invading Nazi’s? She was 7 months pregnant, and had a two year old in her arms. The Nazi’s came to her village and she ran into the woods. The soldiers shot, and she was hit in the face. Still she ran. She got as deep into the forest as she could go before she collapsed.
When I knew this woman, her face was creased with an ugly red scar. Her speech was slurred by the path the bullet had taken across the roof of her mouth.
How do I not march for her?
And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t march against the rise of fascism, knowing the stories from the siege of Leningrad, when the Nazis blockaded the city? I remember a Russian Jewish woman with wide blue eyes. She could no longer see when I took her to the doctor in Boston, but those eyes were filled with sorrow when she told me the story of her father walking the streets in search of food and coming home with part of a dead dog to feed his children.
She talked about her mother cooking their shoes to get some protein out of the leather.
My father fought the Nazis. He was only 18 when he enlisted in the army. He was at the Nuremburg Trials.
I lived through the civil rights era right here in the US, too. I remember seeing the marches, the violence, the struggles. I remember the day that Martin Luther King was murdered.
Are we really going to let the clock go back, Americans? Are we going to embrace the slave owning and race baiting past of the country?
Are we going to sit back and let the Nazis come in here and take our country? Are we going to allow our President to get away with condoning their violence?
Personally, I think I’ll have to go and walk the streets of Boston and stay as safe as I can while making my voice heard.