If you had been alive in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, what do you think you would do? Would you help hide Jews? Would you attend anti-Hitler rallies? Would you have helped create false paperwork to aid escapes? Do you believe you would you have done everything in your power to help the Jews?
If you had been an adult in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s, would you have protested? Would you have shouted down white supremacists? Do you believe you would have been one of the white faces in the crowd fighting for equality?
You lived through a Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bigots re-enacted the German night marches complete with torches and chants calling for the death of Jews and other non-whites. What are you doing now?
We weave these amazing fantasies for ourselves. We believe we would have been a hero. We love all of our friends and neighbors. We don’t see color. We have black friends. We have Jewish friends. We know right from wrong. In our minds, we would have been heroes. In reality, what are you doing?
If you’re arguing that the blame lies with anyone other than the Nazis, that’s what you would have done in Germany. If you’re trying to say the side that wants to live needs to compromise with the side that wants to kill them, that’s what you would have done in the South. If your non-white friends are saying that they’re afraid and you’re brushing aside their fears, you would have been complicit in their deaths during the Shoah or Civil Rights movement.
Listen to these Nazis—really listen. Listen to your friends speaking out—really listen. Then speak out. Rise up. Fight back. How you listen and respond is exactly how you would have behaved the last time we were so seriously threatened. Are you really the hero you believed you would be?
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