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A Time to Speak

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      I never had the pleasure of meeting my father-in-law, the late Isaac Zamosc.  He passed away about a year before I met his daughter, my wife Anna.  Nonetheless, I know quite a bit about him, and along with Anna and what remains of the Zamosc clan, have visited Gombin, the small Polish village where Isaac was born and raised. 

   The earliest record of Jews living in Gombin dates back to 1564.  In 1710, the community built a beautiful wooden synagogue; it was restored in 1893.  In 1939, there were precisely 2,312 Jews living in Gombin.  Isaac Zamosc was not one of them; through extraordinary luck, he had received an exit visa and left, eventually winding up in South America.  He never saw any of his family again.  The 375-year history of Jewish life in Gombin basically came to an end in a single day.  The Nazis came in, rounded up all the Jews, and exterminated them in the first death camp, Chelmno.  It has been 70 years since a single Jew lived in Gombin. 

   Isaac Zamosc was one of the lucky ones; he survived the Holocaust, built a new life in Argentina, and eventually immigrated with his wife and daughter to the United States.  But for millions upon millions of others -- Jews, gypsies, trade unionists, priests, homosexuals, intellectuals -- the brutality of the Holocaust was unfathomable; to say it was humankind's darkest, most savage hour doesn't even come close to stating the truth.  It was so very much worse than anyone could ever imagine . . .

   I don't think anyone save a survivor could ever fully grasp just how unspeakably vile, how unalterably bestial the Nazis and the Holocaust truly were.  And yet, of late, people in the public eye have been blithely throwing around such toxic terms as "Nazi," "Holocaust," "Kristallnacht" and "death camps" in order to score cheap political points with their followers.  To my mind, they are doing nothing less than spitting upon the unmarked graves of millions upon millions of Holocaust victims -- including everyone my late father-in-law knew during the first decade and a half of his life.

   What am I talking about?

  • The other day, while addressing the House on the Republican bill to repeal the Health Care Reform Act, Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen likened GOP claims to tactics used by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.   "They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie, like Goebbels," Cohen said.   He also called the Republican claims a "blood libel."    
  • In his most recent book, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine,"  former House Speaker (and potential 2012 presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich brazenly declared, "The secular-socialist machine represents a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."  When challenged by Fox interviewer Chris Wallace that perhaps this comment was a bit "over the top," Gingrich refused to backtrack.
  • During last year's flap over NPR's decision to fire commentator Juan Williams, Fox News' Sean Hannaty said, of Williams' former employers, ""They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism."  
  • In a Feb. 19, 2010 op-ed piece about tax-exempt status for churches, former Ohio Secretary of State and Family Research Council Fellow Ken Blackwell wrote: "What we are witnessing right now is an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom. What is a "pogrom' [? It's] the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now. These are not isolated attacks. And while we no longer have Cossacks to threaten, we now have left-wing bloggers who actually call themselves Kossacks."   
  • During a March 26, 2010 interview on "Fox and Friends," Tea Party Express chair Mark Williams proclaimed, "Liberals [in Congress] are obviously brushing up on their old copies of Mein Kampf in order to learn how to criminalize dissent."
  • On his March 12, 2010 show, television host Glen Beck compared protests taking place at the G-20 summit then going on in Pittsburgh to "Kristallnacht" -- the "Night of Breaking Glass" in which 267 synagogues were destroyed in Germany within 24 hours (Nov. 9-10, 1938).
  • On October 9, 2009, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tweeted a link to a U-Tube video likening then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Adolph Hitler.
  • On October 6, 2009, then-Connecticut Republican senatorial candidate Peter Schiff described his candidacy as follows: "I'm not interrupting my career.  It's not like I want my new career in politics.  But I'm willing to interrupt it the same way that somebody interrupted their career and joined World War II and went off to fight the Nazis."  (In other words, running to replace a Democrat in the United States Senate is, to Schiff's way of thinking, akin to fighting Nazis!)
  • In an August 2009 speech at a local picnic, Virginia House of Delegates member Steve Landes (R) compared White House actions to those of "the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany."
  • For nearly the past five years, rumors have been flying around the Internet that the Federal Government, in conjunction with FEMA, is setting up a series of "death camps" in Montana and Wyoming.

   OK, you get the idea.  There are a lot of ill-informed, insensitive people out there making a whole bunch of hurtful, outrageous and just plain moronic comments.  And for what?  To rally the troops?  Could they all be so abysmally ignorant of history as to actually believe that President Obama, Minority Leader Pelosi and the congressional progressives are no different from Hitler? 

    As apoplectic as I am over comments like these, I am even more furious over the relative silence with which this noxious bloviating has met.  To give credit where credit is do, I must acknowledge MSNBC's Joe Scarborough -- a former Republican member of the House from Florida -- who thoroughly condemned the former Speaker for his abusive Holocaust rhetoric: "To compare Barack Obama to Stalin, who killed 50 million people . . . or Hitler, who started a war that killed tens of millions . . . to compare President Obama to Stalin or Hitler, that is just sick.  I hope you're making a lot of money on your book Newt . . ." 

   But aside from Joe Scarborough, who is out of politics and thus not running for anything but ratings, not one Republican has spoken out -- has said:

   ENOUGH ALREADY! 

   NOT ONE MORE WORD OF THIS NASTY, UNCONSCIONABLE HOLOCAUST RHETORIC! 

   IT IS WRONG! 

   IT IS DISGUSTING! 

   IT IS IMMORAL AND DOES A GROSS, GROSS DISSERVICE TO THE MILLIONS WHO ACTUALLY DIED AT THE HANDS OF THE NAZIS!! 

   As it says in the book of Ecclesiastes (3:7):

   There is a time to mend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak.

   Ladies and gentlemen, this is definitely the time for the sensitive, caring majority to speak -- and to speak out loudly -- in order to convince, cajole or force the insensitive, uncaring minority to keep silent -- TO SHUT THE HELL UP!

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http://www.kurtfstone.typepad.com

Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of (more...)
 
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In the words of H.L. Mencken, "No one ever went br... by Kurt F. Stone on Friday, Jan 21, 2011 at 9:14:48 AM
Joan Brunwasser asked me to ask you: What is your ... by GLloyd Rowsey on Friday, Jan 21, 2011 at 1:12:17 PM
Greetings. so i assume that you feel that just bec... by edward stein on Friday, Jan 21, 2011 at 6:21:25 PM
I watched the video of Congressman Cohen.What I to... by SherryGT on Saturday, Jan 22, 2011 at 9:09:21 AM
Rep. Cohen's trivialization of the Shoah is a disg... by Miriam Callaghan on Saturday, Jan 22, 2011 at 4:10:48 PM