Some extremely obvious reflections on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

  1. It’s all connected. Yesterday was the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I don’t believe I had any relatives at Auschwitz, but members of my extended family did die in the Holocaust. They also died because of anti-semitic conscription during World War I in the Austro-Hungarian empire (in fact, this is the reason my mother’s father wound up in the United States). Sunday, I attended a march on India’s Republic Day to denounce the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), India’s new citizenship law that turns countless Muslims into stateless people. Meanwhile, at India’s official Republic Day celebration, Modi’s guest of honour was Bolsonaro. Fascism is intersectional, transnational, and networked.
  2. It is not an accident that American politicians–including Bernie Sanders–do not know that it was the Soviet Army, not the Allies who liberated Auschwitz. Stories like that do not fit into the convenient narratives of American history. The same can be said for a critical reading of the CAA, which appears to draw from both the Nuremberg laws and Israel’s current approach to citizenship and immigration. Did I mention that fascism is intersectional, transnational, and networked?
  3. In opposition to these rightward turns in formerly liberal democracies (as well as in states that are not and have not been liberal democracies), there are pro-democracy movements driven by young people, students, women, and others: Hong Kong, Chile, India, the U.S. and Canada, Turkey, and elsewhere around the world. These movements are also in touch with one another and sharing strategy, but they lack the institutional might that the pro-fascist movements have.
  4. The climate catastrophe will make everything worse.
  5. The Jewish motto of Holocaust remembrance is “never again.” But never again appears to be right now. It is not a coincidence that anti-Semitic violence is up; that is a direct result of the global resurgence of organized racism. I went to a synagogue for the first time in years for a friend’s kid’s bar mitzvah, and was shocked to see an armed guard at the door. In Westmount. (Relatedly: I am so tired of hearing cynical invocations of anti-semitism by people for political ends, rather than focusing on actual attacks on Jews).
  6. It is hard for any one person to keep track of all of this or to stay on top of it. But we can choose to be aware of some parts of the world other than our own.
  7. This point is for those of us with decent incomes. People on the left, and secular people, regularly give away less of their money than people on the right and religious people. People with less money tend to give away a higher proportion of their incomes. If you can, consider giving money to support some of these radical movements. Consider supporting the Movement for Black Lives or an Indigenous group if you are giving to a U.S. presidential candidate. Why not donate to Extinction Rebellion instead of buying carbon offsets? If like me you are in a place with relatively valuable currency, why not send money to support activists in another part of the world where your money will go even further thanks to a good exchange rate?
  8. Figure out what you can do in your community and even in your workplace. Small actions, as well as big ones, matter. It’s not about being a full time activist. It’s about doing something, rather than nothing.