Born in 1944 in Wertach im Allg äu, Germany, Sebald thinks he's reading a "movie" scene. But he's not planning to turn away. Already in search of those unflinching witnesses who try to find the language to convey the horror, Sebald, the younger man, starts to feel as alienated as the older man must have felt in that moment when he's confronted, writes Sebald,"by a lack of moral sensitivity bordering on inhumanity."
Nossack: People think it's a matter of mourning for lost things or middle-class comforts. That's not it at all.
Sebald: No, that's not it at all.
Nossack: How about telling it at "dusk," as "a fairy tale"?
And Sebald: No fairy tale necessary.
"You do not expect," Sebald responds, "an insect colony to be transfixed with grief at the destruction of a neighboring anthill, but you do assume a certain degree of empathy in human nature, and to that extent there is indeed something alarmingly absurd and shocking about continuing to drink coffee in the normal way on Hamburg balconies at the end of July 1943."
In the US, no fairy tale should be necessary, but we live in a culture indulging in the prequels and sequels of featuring superheroes.
I see elephants. Emphatic. They've been captured on film, standing around a deceased calf or adult. A herd of elephants mourning the loss of a calf. Even when a herd encounters the remains of a dead elephant--an elephant not of their herd, but a fellow elephant, nonetheless, a member of their species, nonetheless--the herd stops, encircle the remains, and in doing so, each member of the herd acknowledges a connection to and empathy for the one succumbed, most likely, to some form of violence.
Black Americans have a tradition to call upon to in times of crisis. And when have we not been in crisis? When has the catastrophe come to an end? Only the lost feel free and carry on "in the normal way," as if all aboard the ship have been saved. They aren't even aware of being covered in the debris of the rubble.
On April 25, 2018, on Twitter, one of the most influential rappers, Kanye West, sends a selfie of himself sporting a MAGA cap, and, declaring, unabashedly, his support for Trump, says Trump's his "brother." The rapper follows with a release of songs, defending his support for Trump. What has Trump done with his racist utterances but encourage the continuation of indifference toward the experiences of blacks in America. In the meantime, the Black Lives Matter Movement is just a bunch of whiners!
On the same day, Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary, also, in his way, declared his support for Trump by announcing a proposal to triple the rent of low-income, federally subsidized renters, along with imposing, according to a Washington Post report, "work requirements." Triple the rent! And where and what kind of jobs are we talking about? But Carson's not asking these questions.
Trump's his "brother" too.
Laugh, at your expense! This is what white supremacy looks like too! Embracing ignorance isn't free. There are consequences for recklessly indulging in ignorance and cruelty. And indifference is cruel. It has proven deadly in the face of greed and fear. The indifference of a Kanye West and a Ben Carson shouldn't be taken lightly. Nossack recalls how the "fend for yourself" mindset was, at one time, just a fairy tale to scare children.
In 2018, the Wests and the Carsons are overstepping.
Imagine the nightmare: On a balcony in Washington, DC, sits the leader of the "free world, flanked by his brothers, Kanye West and Ben Carson. All is well for these guys, drinking coffee "in the normal way."