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Well-known Spanish philosopher Jorge Agustin Nicolas Ruiz de Santayana y Borras — known succinctly in English as George Santayana — was born in 1863 and died in 1952.
He was gay — lived through the worldwide nightmare of Hitler and Nazism that took the lives of 50 million people, 6 million of them Jews, thousands of them, homosexuals — and famous for warning all who cared to listen: “Those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to relive them.”
Having so jogged our own LGBTQ memory with his warning — and with Trump and his right-wing religious cronies stage center — step back in this nefarious Parting Glances to the year 1933 in Germany.
Within months of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Germany’s Chancellor, Nazi SS thugs in Berlin stood menacingly in front of Jewish-owned businesses.
They held up signs in their grubby, beat-opponents-to-a-pulp hands. “Kauft nicht bei juden! (“Don’t buy from Jews!”).” Nationwide the Nazi slogan was, “The Jew is our misfortune.”
Sieg heil! Germany has had a history of Jew-baiting dating to the 16th century. There’s an infamous, seven-point tract called: “On the Jews and Their Lies.” It circulated widely in 1543. It urged Germans to ” … set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever see a stone or cinder of them.”
“This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.”
Its author was Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant movement. It is, one can say without fear of contradiction, an embarrassment to the many protestant denominations that have evolved since Luther’s time (1483-1586). Many but not all.
In 1935, Nazi Germany decreed the notorious Nuremberg Laws. Jews were made non-status residents with no rights. They were excluded from practicing any medicine, law or teaching of Aryan citizens (non-Jews).
In 1938, Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were vandalized, burned and destroyed during the November weekend that lives in lasting infamy as “Kristallnacht.” Translated literally as the “night of crystal,” or the “night of broken glass.” Soon Jews were required to wear yellow stars.
Failure to do so meant death. Soon, Jewish property was confiscated. Jews were deported to lice-ridden ghettos.
German city after city was declared, “Judenfrei.” Free of Jews. It was hard not to know what was going on. But most Germans looked the other way.
Most minded their own business. Shoah, the Holocaust, was underway. “Kauft nicht bei Juden” visibly began. It ended with six million deaths.
It’s no stretch of imagination to say that for those historians who have documented the history of the Holocaust, a variation can happen again. They see cautions, hints and alarming similarities between times then and now.
Trends to take note of and warnings to watch out for. Especially for LGBTQ citizens. (Trumps new victims?)
Having reviewed as much, it’s noted with acute interest that the American Family Association has demanded its 180,000 members boycott The Home Depot, Target, Ford Motor Company and Walt Disney World for their generous support of the LGBTQ community. (81 percent of evangelical/ fundamentalists voted for Trump.)
These AFA boycotts have not as yet been effective. Ford Motor Company has not gone under. Disney World still has popular gay days. And, so far, The Home Depot or Target — God Bless them! — have not been affected significantly. (Lesbian shoppers will see to that.)
What’s disturbing is that it’s all too easy to picture an AFA Bible bully carrying a sign, “Don’t Buy from Gays or Gay Supporters!”
And, standing theocratic thug to thug with them: Trump, Pence, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and hundreds of so-called Christians who choose to remain silent. Choose to look the other way. One gay less to think about. (WWJD?)