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We Are 1

A Family of the ...

 A Blog and Vlog

on the Parallels Between Refugees Now

and During World War II

WeAre1: Those Who Follow the Golden Rule

Recently, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York denounced the Trump administration's policy of separating kids from their parents at our southern border and holding them in migrant detention centers here. The children languish in horrific, over-crowded detention centers and pens that AOC likened to concentration camps.
In response, Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted, "You demean (the) memory (of 6 million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust) and disgrace yourself with comments like this." Representative Lee Zeldin of New York implored AOC to "stop trying to draw these crayon parallels between POTUS & Hitler!"
Rather than channel their outrage, many people became distracted by definitions of camps and debating a hierarchy of suffering. Meanwhile, the leader of the land of the free is persecuting people of color who are fleeing famine and violence—their own pogroms—in Central and South America.
Whatever happened to the Golden Rule––the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated? The concept dates back to Confucius (551 - 479 BC) and Hillel the Elder, (110 BCE - 10 CE) and is central to the world's major religions. Why then, in this era of religious fervor, is it so hard for people to note that rule and follow it?
Mercifully, my parents were not in concentration camps during World War II. But this month 77 years ago, my mother, her aunt Dr. Augusta Mandel, and her two daughters were forced into a ghetto in Tarnów. Concentrating Jews in walled areas within European cities was the Nazis' prelude to concentration and extermination camps. When the city's Jews and those from surrounding villages were relocated to the ghetto, the population expanded from 26,000 to 40,000. The overcrowding was purposeful—to accelerate suffering and the spread of disease.
The Tarnów ghetto had been created earlier, but the Nazis allowed Jewish doctors to practice outside the ghetto for a year, so my mother and her relatives moved to the ghetto in June 1942.
That month marked the beginning of a wave of German Aktionen against Tarnów's Jews. Drunken, marauding SS men grabbed axes and went door to door to Jewish homes. Jews having papers stamped with a "K," or who did not have papers, were either killed on the spot, or taken to a nearby forest and gunned down.
A few days before, my mother had gone to the Labor Office in the Gestapo headquarters. There she had presented her workcard (as the medical assistant of her aunt) and received a stamp with the initials "SD." My mother thought this just meant that she could remain in Tarnów. She had no idea that it was a stamp of life.
The next Aktion, known as the "Children's Action," occurred on July 24 and 25. Jews were ordered out of their houses and forced to walk barefoot to the market square. On the way, Nazis whipped and beat them with their rifle butts. Some Jews deemed fit for work were captured for the purpose of forced labor. Others were deported to Belzec, the extermination camp. Hundreds of children found in the Jewish homes were escorted to a nearby shed and shot. The Nazis lured others to a school where the children thought they were to be disinfected. In fact, they were thrust into classrooms and locked in while steam spewed from the central heating system. They choked to death.
Today we are learning details of the deplorable conditions endured by Central American children who have been kidnapped by our government. Seven children have died. Countless others are traumatized daily by this outrageous infraction on human rights. All this is paid for with our tax dollars.
How far are today's captive children from experiencing what those Jewish children and my mother, then a teenager, experienced? Why is there not a greater outcry now? Where is the chant, "Not in our name?" When societies ignore the Golden Rule, everybody is doomed.
Clearly Trump does not abide by the Golden Rule because he cannot imagine himself in anyone else's situation. He believes he is exceptional, therefore rules do not apply to him. There is a disconnect between him and anyone unlike his image of himself and so he cannot fathom how he would feel if deprived of a toothbrush, nutritious food, sanitary conditions, had to sleep on the floor in a cage, and on and on. Apparently, his narcissistic affliction is the root of his cruelty.
Is this the way to make America great?
The Nazis were supreme narcissists who discarded the norms of ethical human interaction. But even the Nazis managed to track their victims albeit with ancient IBM technology. The Nazis were able to apply their murderous ideology to Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals because they convinced themselves that their perceived enemies were subhuman. They, too, deserved neither toothbrushes, nor nutritious food, nor sanitary conditions, nor….

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