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Reading about the Montgomery County teachers visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in the Journal Review provoked me to respond, especially the end of the article which adds an Eleventh Commandment suggested by a camp survivor, “Thou Shalt Not Be Indifferent.”
Two weeks ago, while waiting on line to mail a package at the Crawfordsville Post Office, I noticed a young man, maybe in his thirties, at the counter doing the same. He wore a tee shirt with the words “Identity Evropa” on the back, which had various symbols on it that I did not recognize. Curious, I subsequently found out that “Identity Evropa” is a white supremacist group, one of those behind the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a young anti- hate protester was killed. This group came up with the chant “Jews will not replace.”
As a Jewish person I felt a range of emotions when I read about this group. Presumably, this neighbor of mine hates me because of my religious identity, and would want to physically attack or even kill me if he could. I was hurt, angry, and depressed by this realization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which documents hate groups, writes that this group would not blatantly say it wants to eliminate me because I am Jewish; their hatred is much more carefully packaged. They present themselves as “merely” pro-white, concerned that our country has been taken over by minorities and lost its true identity, as a white, Christian country. Their strategy, like the early Nazi party in Germany, is to infiltrate mainstream political groups, in this case the Republican Party, and shift the political and social climate towards more exclusivity and hatred. (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/identity-evropa).
People of good will must be vigilant. During this 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other death camps, let us not be fooled by the historical photographs of that era into thinking that racial, ethnic, and gender hatred is somehow safely behind us. It is clearly alive today and walking in the streets of Crawfordsville.