Friday, June 12, 2009
We often forget that just because the Holocaust is taught in history books and has been the subject of several hit movies, it doesn't mean that antisemitism and Holocaust denial isn't alive and well. It is.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has closed its doors for the time being after a man walked into the museum and opened fire. Stephan Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the museum, was killed. The police have identified as a suspect James Von Brunn, 88, who is a Holocaust denier and a white supremacist. Police found antisemitic writings at Von Brunn's home after the incident. Feminist.org points out something important:
This is the third shooting in recent weeks that is politically driven and has been considered domestic terrorism. Army private William Andrew Long, was shot and killed this month because of the suspect's opposition to the US military's presence in the Middle East. Also, Dr. George Tiller, one of the only remaining late abortion doctors in the country, was shot and killed in his church in late May by an anti-choice extremist.
Why is it now that there is such a flare-up of politically-motivated shootings - AKA terrorism? Does it have something to do with a deep division and animosity between the Democratic and Republican parties? Are extremists royally pissed off that we have a black man as president and are now taking it as their cue to start shooting? It's hard to tell exactly what is fueling this.
President Obama made a heartfelt comment regarding this incident. For some reason, I always feel a little better after reading his statements on situations such as this one and Dr. Tiller's murder.
This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.
In light of recent events, consider making a donation to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Another important way of fighting antisemitism is to experience Judaism for yourself - no matter what religion you identify with, synagogues are always open for your exploration. Find a synagogue near you, and pay it a visit. If you're uncomfortable attending a religious service, most synagogues hold non-religious events, such as Food Drives and luncheons.
And of course, hatred and violence stems from ignorance and fear of the unknown. Consider taking some time to learn about Jewish history. There are a handful of books on the Holocaust that focus specifically on women's experiences. The next time someone you know cites misguided information, correct them. Spread knowledge and spread acceptance.