Anderson: Anti-Semitism has no place in the world – The Ledger

Posted: November 9, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Bruce Anderson| Ledger Columnist

I was going through messages on my computer the other day and came across a chilling report. One of our alumni, now a graduate student at George Washington University, recounted a sick thing: a Torah, a Jewish religious text, had been desecrated on campus; it had resided in a fraternity house.

CNN reported:

Chapter President Chris Osborne told CNN by phone the house was broken into while members were away and the damage was discovered early Sunday. 'There was laundry detergent dumped on religious texts, specifically a Jewish Torah,'he said. 'We believe it was an act of anti-Semitism,'Osborne told CNN. 'There was a Christian Bible and a Jewish Torah in the room, and only the Jewish Torah was vandalized. I believe it was a hate crime.'"

Hate has had a whole new meaning over the past few years but this kind of hatred is centuries old. Sometimes it is tragically manifested. About three years ago this week, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, a twisted anti-Semite crashed through the open doors during morning Shabbat services and killed eleven people and wounded six more. The gunman had been posting on Gab, which runs to hate babbling, about Dor Hadash (one of the congregations that met at Tree of Life) and their support for unnamed immigrants. [Dor Hadash]the murderer wrote, bring[s in] invaders … that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered, he wrote.

Our people? My people? As opposed to the people he was about to murder in a place of worship? Jewish people as other?

In agonizing irony, several of the victims in Pittsburg were survivors of the Holocaust - the attempted mass annihilation of the Jewish communities and people of Europe by Germany in the 1930s and 40s; the despicable attempt at murdering - one by one - millions of human beings because of an unbearably bizarre and preposterous belief in their otherness.

Sometimes Anti-Semitism creeps in on soft, ghoulish feet. The country clubs who would not admit Jewish people; the Gentlemans Agreement or School Ties brand of exclusion. And then there are the intentional assaults as with Pittsburg; or what occurred at George Washington University (a community of scholars and reason) where we are suddenly confronted by deliberate, premeditated acts of pollution perpetrated on sacred artifacts of religious belief. And worst of all, by some, a malignant indifference to it all.

On November 9, 1938, after years of curtailing the rights and eventually even the citizenship of German people who were Jewish, Germany exploded into shattering, bloodthirsty, primal acts of violence. The paroxysm was allegedly prompted by the assassination of a minor functionary in the German embassy in Paris, but the real cause was a premeditated, closely organized and tactically calculated plan by the government to release hatred in an external display. The attacks on Jewish homes and businesses were so violent and unrelenting that the streets were covered in the crushed glass of the broken windows and the blood of the dying. This was Kristallnacht or the night of crystal.

From 5:30 to 5:45p.m., this Tuesday, November 9th a group of people from our own community of reason will come together on my campus to remember this terrible night.

One of the organizers told me that As time passes Kristallnacht is now 83 years ago events lose their immediacy. As a Jew, I feel both bound to my ancient ancestors and responsible for the next generation. Remembering is part of that impulse, though not the only part, she said. I think as human beings we are called on to do something with memory rather than just visiting it for 15 minutes.

My former student at GWU said Anti-Semitism goes beyond the immediate. It is the canary in the coal mine for all of society. True.

Vigilance. Anti-Semitism has no place in the world.

Never forget, we say. But more importantly, Never is Now.

R. Bruce Anderson is theDr. Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr. Endowed Chair in American History, Government, and Civicsand Miller Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Florida Southern College.He is also a columnist for The Ledgerand political consultant and on-air commentator for WLKF Radio.

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Anderson: Anti-Semitism has no place in the world - The Ledger

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