Trump “is going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews,” reads the handwritten letters delivered to California mosques. “You Muslims would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge.”
I grew up under the weight of the Holocaust. I was born in 1947 and given the names of the two great-grandmothers who had been murdered, one in Vilna, the other in Slonim, in today’s Belarus. While a handful of relatives had left Eastern Europe before the war, my entire family, down to the smallest infant, was slaughtered by the efficient killing machines of the Germans and their eager supporters in the conquered lands. I grew up in fear, knowing that my small life was a glass bauble that could be whimsically shattered by a government or a thug while the surrounding population shrugged and went about their business.
Today’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant threats, and the barbaric rhetoric of the incoming president’s campaign, make me physically ill. I have stopped sleeping since the election as I watch our most sacred institutions under assault. Once the inauguration is complete, the bigger hounds of hatred will be unloosed.
In Germany in the 1920’s, roving bands of thugs — veterans of WWI, other men dispossessed from land and jobs — assaulted people in their homes, without much reprisal, since many systems of justice had broken down. These roving bands became Hitler’s original Brown Shirts.
When I see the murder of black musician Will Sims by a roving band of white supremacists, or the white man in Charleston, W. Virginia, who murdered a black teen and said, “I took another piece of trash off the streets,” I see the seeds of Brown Shirts. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 701 acts of hate against people of color, women, Muslims and LGBTQ’s in the first week after the election. (In contrast they found about 24 acts of hatred against supporters of the incoming regime.)
I will not shrug my shoulders and look the other way while our Constitution and our values are undermined by mobs and hatred. I’ve written my senators and the director of the FBI, demanding that white supremacists be treated as terrorists and tracked and arrested before they terrorize the entire country. I am upping my support for the ACLU and for Planned Parenthood, whose work in caring for the poorest women in our country is under direct threat. With a number of friends, I’ve started a Facebook page, Sara Paretsky and Friends Act for Justice. It will serve as one of the growing number of resources that detail suggested acts for justice, along with resources for how to combat the rising tide of hate and violence.
Planned Parenthood’s slogan is, “These doors stay open.” Mine is, “This Constitution stays alive.”