The rise of this blusterous man bewilders the educated among us, conjoins opposing politicians, agonizes our international allies, threatens minorities, spits on the disabled, and touches the hearts of those who just don’t know any better. Let’s stop propounding how mad this all is, and instead, do something.” – Liselette Hübner 1929

Nearly 100 years ago an Austrian man deceived the German people into believing that if they followed him, they would make Germany great again. The National Socialists, the Nazis, blamed the Jewish people, individuals with disabilities, people of color, Slavs, and homosexuals for all that ailed them.

Only a few people spoke up and challenged this man. He was allowed to become a dictator. Ultimately, 60 million people died because of this man. Jewish women, men, and children. Some of the Greatest Generation of Americans died. Russians. And of course Germans.

The German people learned through this tragedy that they must confront evil immediately. Not to let it take root. Not to blame others. And to recognize the gift that a diverse people bring to Germany.

Today in America a man is trying to deceive us into believing that we can make America great again by blaming certain groups of individuals for our problems. The fearful and the cowardly are drawn to him. And they feel empowered by him.

Empowered to plan things like August 12th’s Unite the Right event. In which white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members proudly expressed their racism.
They shouted “Blood and Soil” like their Nazi counterparts nearly 100 years ago. They embraced violence. And murder.

How should we as people who love freedom and goodness respond? What can be done in the face of such a tragedy?

We have to remember what America is. What it really is. Not what we’re being tricked into thinking it is. A land where no one is a stranger. A land where courage, not fear, is rewarded. A land that is greatest when it focuses on goals, not blame.

That’s what Germans had to do after World War 2. They remembered their long history of democracy and inclusion and dignity.

Let’s not wait until another great conflict for us to remember our values. Let’s remember democracy and inclusion and human dignity now. And let’s not do it only on Facebook, either.

Let’s spend time and form relationships now with those who think differently than we do. Speak up when your friends use racist or sexist or homophobic language. Confront family when they blame a particular group for problems facing America. Be mindful of our own stereotyping or scapegoating behavior.

And stand with those who are impacted by the evil of white supremacy until there is change. Until there is a just world for all.

I’d like to end with a prayer written by Alydia Smith:

Compassionate One,
Help us to understand how racism finds life in our hearts and in our cries.
In this time of tense anticipation,
may we commit ourselves to be people of your way
crying and creating a path for justice, equity, and peace
for all people in this wilderness of hatred and racism.


***Photos by Brittany Anzel App


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