Which side are you on?

It’s been widely reported that Michael Jordan once explained his political neutrality as either,”Republicans buy shoes, too” or “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” It’s not really clear whether or not he said either of these things but what is true is that this summer, he took a public stand against police brutality. Friends, the revolution will not be televised.

If the athlete most associated with not getting involved, has gotten involved, maybe it’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines.

It’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Maybe you’ve heard about some of the heroes of the resistance, who saved lives during a period of Fascist bigotry and violence? Oskar Schindler? The British Kindertransport? Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center, maintains a comprehensive list of “The Righteous Among The Nations,” the people and organizations who worked to save their fellow human beings – with acts of courage large and small.

Then, there are stories like the St. Louis, a transatlantic ship, carrying almost 1,000 refugees fleeing Germany. They were in imminent danger if they stayed. Most had applied for U.S. visas; when they set sail their plan was to stay temporarily in Cuba until their U.S. paperwork was clear and legal. When they landed in Cuba, for a number of reasons, all but 28 were refused entry; the 28 who disembarked paid large bribes to be allowed entry. After Cuba denied them entry, they appealed to President Roosevelt. He was silent. Our State Department told them they would have to wait for their turn on the waiting list (at this point, several years long). The ship sailed back to Europe and certain death. These countries, who were facing much harder circumstances given their closer proximity to Nazi invasion, who were under more financial stress, who had less room – these countries opened their doors: Great Britain (288), the Netherlands (181), Belgium (214), France (224). Even with their generosity, because these refugees were not able to get off the continent, about 1/4 of the ship’s original passengers died at the hands of the Nazis.
(Summarized from: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum – Holocaust Encyclopedia – Voyage of the St. Louis)

The Holocaust is often misidentified as “the first genocide in modern times.” Adolf Hitler himself lets us know that is untrue: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

One reason Hitler knew he could get away with genocide is that he had seen the world’s silence on a previous one. One way Assad knew he could get away with his agenda is that there have been many “successful” genocides since WWII.

What is it we always say about the Holocaust? “Never again.” Please remember the Holocaust this year by calling your elected officials to let them know that you don’t support mass deportations, or a border wall, or turning away Syrian refugees. If you can do more than that, here are 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees.

75ish years from now  what will your story be? Did you ignore a ship in distress, or did you sail out with a lifeboat?

photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with text: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."




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