On Holocaust Remembrance Day, modern antisemitism is omnipresent

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The absurdity of a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban one of the most influential graphic novels in modern history, a detailed retelling of actual Holocaust events that met with the board’s unanimous disapproval because of the inclusion of “rough” language and vaguely sketched nudity in a historic recounting of imprisonment, dehumanization and mass murder, speaks for itself.

Our children can hide behind doors during active shooter drills, can face mass death in their communities, can face hunger and homelessness and a society that regularly debates how many deaths ought to be allowed so that the adults can feel satisfied that nobody is taking a pandemic “too” seriously anymore. I can guarantee every adult that the children nowadays are familiar with language so “rough” that it would melt a school board member’s delicate ears—but the thought that children might be exposed to a few harsh words, in learning that the bigotries of modern societies can so effortlessly transform into industrialized frameworks for killing their neighbors by the millions? Too much.

Holocaust Remembrance Day comes and goes in the midst of a new, tactical “culture war” in which conservatives (or rather, bigots) warn that the children these days might feel bad when they learn what their own parents and grandparents were doing only a few decades before this one.

The new surge of antisemitism in American life cannot be ignored. A man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz: Work Brings Freedom” sweatshirt was among those who stormed the U.S. Capitol, only one of many pro-Trump insurrectionists with neo-Nazi or white supremacist ties.

A crowd of pro-Trump demonstrators recently staked out the home of a Jewish state legislator in Ohio—bringing with them signs reading “kneel for the cross.”

And on Fox News this week, white nationalist host Tucker Carlson invoked one of the most-pushed neo-Nazi conspiracy theories of our time, the notion that a wealthy Jewish American was seeking to undermine “western civilization” with secret plots to flood white nations with immigrants. George Soros is the enemy of far-right authoritarian groups due to his constant support for pro-democracy reforms and movements; Tucker Carlson once again plastered the neo-Nazi theory on national television as part of Carlson’s avowed support for a far-right, antisemitic Hungarian authoritarian leader who has been trying to crush those democratic movements for the sake of his own personal power.

The United States was, and is, the target of an insurrection by white nationalists and fascists who believe Donald Trump’s xenophobic retaliations against immigrants and nonwhite Americans alike are more important than democracy itself, and that if one or the other should be discarded it is democracy that should go. The Holocaust was not an accident. Neither are the modern conspiracy theories that are direct echoes of those past murderous versions, such as the neo-Nazi premised “QAnon” theories of world elites consuming the blood of children because reasons, that are being used to stoke similar paranoias.

Do not just remember the Holocaust. Look for its reverberations. Look for those same hatreds, expose them, condemn them, and make damn sure you are one of the human beings fighting against them. Nothing about the Holocaust is “history,” and merely remembering it is not nearly enough.



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