These young African American teens also see the parallels of the Nazi regime to the current political climate in America. They have asked: “Is Nazism rising again?” They have spoken about the separation of children at the Mexico borders by asking: “How different is the separation of children from their families at the Mexican border different from the separation of Jewish children from their parents during the Holocaust?”
As I pondered this experience with my students, I thought: If young African American teens are relating the Jewish Holocaust to their own experiences (both current and historical) of injustice in America, then we Jews must see the significance of the denigration of immigrants and others happening today.
As Jews, we cannot afford the luxury of isolationism. Our fate as Jews is connected to that of others. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Jews and other people of conscience must denounce hate whenever it surfaces and from whomever it comes, whether a person on the street or the President of the United States. I believe that hate is a part of a family of “-isms” that categorizes people by the color of their skin, religion or sexual orientation and then casts these groups as “the other.” It can be anti-Semitic, it can be racist, it can be homophobic, and it can be xenophobic. These “-isms” are all cousins, all part of the same evil family.
The blatant rhetoric of hate coming from the White House today and the inexplicable silence from Republican Congressional leaders is troubling. They may be silent. We must not.
John H. Eaves, PhD, is executive director of the Atlanta-based Global Youth Ambassadors Program. He is a former Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.