Reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

It is definitely true that the Holocaust should never be allowed to happen again, and we should agree that the slaughtering of Jews is a bad thing and should be prevented should the possibility or reality arise.

Reflecting on the above, which is essentially a summary of Pres. Trump's remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day, it sounds pretty reasonable, even rational.

The day, and the speech, caused me to reflect on my own mother, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944-5 as a teenager. I've thought about this more over the past year, as my own oldest daughter has reached and passed the age when that happened to my mother.

The Holocaust is an event, and like all historical events, it has an arc. In 1933 the events that led to Auschwitz began. The first concentration camps were built, but these weren't initially conceived for slave labor or mass extermination, and their primary initial target wasn't even Jews, it was Communists and other political opponents of the Nazis.

It is possible that Donald Trump is the most influential person in the world right now, so I have to ask myself 'what world events right now look the most like 1933 or 1937 or 1938 and how do the words and actions of the US President relate to them?' I mostly see Syria and the Syrian refugees.

It's easy to condemn the events of 70 years ago. The Jews suffered a lot, the ones who died as well as the ones who survived, whose suffering did not end in 1945. There is no harm in recognizing that. But reducing this Remembrance Day to one group is not just an oversight, it is venal, because it reinforces the tribal-allegiance-above-all mentality that is one of the root causes of all of these wanton slaughters.

My primary takeaway from Trump's speech is that Jews are, after some debate, considered sufficiently White to be "in", even in the white-supremacist Trump White House. Maybe some people are happy about that.

I'm not. There is only sadness in thinking that some reasonable people will be co-opted into thinking that the US administration is reasonable, while we close our borders to desperate refugees, the same way we did in the 1930s and 1940s.