In reference to history’s most horrific events, we often utter the words “Never forget.” But perhaps as important is that phrase’s unspoken corollary: Never ignore.
Nestled in the cocoon of democratic America seven decades after the Holocaust, many of us go about our daily lives thinking that Nazi-style hatred and prejudice are largely a thing of the past. If only it were so.
Like many other forms of irrational hatred, anti-Semitism remains in full bloom in 2017. Cable news channels were recently on high alert with wall-to-wall coverage of the goings-on in Charlottesville. While ostensibly protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, demonstrators in the Virginia city chanted “the Jews will not replace us” and carried swastikas — crystal-clear confirmation that anti-Jewish bigotry has not been eradicated.
Nor, to be clear, is this hatred confined to the deep South. In August, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized, the second such attack at that memorial over the past few months.
Perhaps even more unnerving, in the weeks after the Charlottesville events, in which one innocent life was taken away, the fighting has continued in Berkeley and other locales, as competing factions — some rooted in hate — have engaged in violence that seems to detract from the fundamental issues at the heart of their protests.
These displays of intolerance and hatred all come on the heels of a winter that saw headstones toppled in Jewish cemeteries in several major cities.