Serendipity and the Holocaust

Truly life is strange. During my peak overnight time I watched the first two episodes of an old PBS series titled "Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State". After each episode about the evolution of the camps from ones holding just political prisoners to holding prisoners of war to "the Final Solution", Linda Ellerbee spoke with scholars about the Holocaust.

I found it somewhat telling that in one place a scholar was listing the types of people exterminated or held in the camps. He got the Jews, the political prisoners, the POW's, Poles, the Russians but then Ellerbee had to fill him in on the rest: homosexuals, gypsies, the handicapped. How easy it is to forget sometimes how quickly minorities can be targeted for violence or extermination. Perhaps it was fitting that they were discussing whether in 21st Century America another Holocaust could ever happen.

Surely not, right? During the show they spoke to former guards or SS members on camera. When pressed about how they could possibly stand by and allow such things to happen everyone of them said that it was simply what they were taught. Jews, homosexuals, and others were enemies of the country. They were there to take advantage of the hard working German people. They were sub-human and preyed on others thereby weakening the state. Their moral rot was the reason Germany had lost the first World War.

Does that sound remotely familiar? When the panel discussed whether a Holocaust could happen in the United States of the 21st century, they touched on these points. The first and most necessary ingredient to making genocide palatable is to demonize and dehumanize a minority. Fear must be cultivated in the masses so that see the minority as the cause of all their ills.

We see that daily in America today. Whether it be Hispanics who are without fail described as "illegal aliens" (how much more dehumanizing can you get?) or LGBT people who are portrayed as immoral and out to harm good decent heterosexual children and even destroy the very foundations of family life by (gasp!) wanting to marry and raise families or the sick who need healthcare and are seen as leeches waiting to drink from the public trough.

I realized after turning off the television that this marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps. The very same camps where homosexuals were not freed by our troops but kept under lock and key while others went free. Then a few moments ago I happened to be tagged in a Facebook note by a friend who quoted the old piece by Niemuller: "First they came for the Jews..."

Her point touched on two pieces of legislation right here in Arizona by Republicans. The Arizona Republican Party has made it their sole and primary mission to demonize and dehumanize both Hispanics and the LGBT community. In their pending legislation they take it another step.

SB 1070 mandates that police prioritize the enforcement of federal immigration law over the enforcement of criminal statutes. Simply put, this bill would force the police to choose between rounding up anyone "suspected" of being an "illegal alien" over such things as investigating murders, rapes, assault, or even kidnapping.  In Arizona, "suspected" means that you have brown skin. Maricopa County is perhaps the most racist county in the United States currently thanks to their rural bumpkins who keep electing an inveterate racist sheriff.

The other pending legislation gives preferential treatment to married heterosexual couples in matters of adoption. In short the bill is aimed at the LGBT community where we are not allowed under state law to marry. Simply put, this one makes it impossible for a single person to adopt a child in Arizona. Supposedly, "special needs" children may be adopted by single people but only if no married couple can be found. As long as there is even the slightest chance that sometime in the future a married heterosexual couple MIGHT want to adopt the child they cannot be legally placed with a single parent. The gist of this bill is that you can't trust single parents and you certainly can't trust LGBT parents around kids!

So, could we have a Holocaust again? Certainly, it all depends on who holds the reigns of power. We scream a lot about the Republicans but the old guard GOP isn't the concern. The real trouble on the horizon lies with the TEA Party people and the radicalized paranoids who follow Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh. If those types ever seize power we could be in for our own brand of Holocaust.

After all, just listen to what they have to say:
"We need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and round them up...They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters, and they are evil people." - Chris Simcox, leader of the Minutemen

"My message to them is, not in two weeks, not in two months, not in two years, never! We must be clear that we will not surrender America and we will not turn the United States over to the invaders from south of the border." -Rep. Virgil Goode (R- VA)

"What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border...step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun." - Brian James, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KFYI-AM in Phoenix.

"Our enemies are bloodied and beaten. We cannot relent. Our boot is on their throat and we must have the willingness to crush their ‘throat' so that we can put our enemy down for good. The sovereignty of our nation and the future of our culture and civilization is at stake. The United States is a beacon of salvation unto the rest of the world. Our freedoms, our culture is mans salvation. If we perish, man perishes." - Joseph Turner, Save Our State (S.O.S), now a staff member with the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

"[homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven." - Jerry Falwell

"All homosexuals should be castrated." - Billy Graham (interestingly, Dr. Mengele did just that and in very bizarre ways).

"Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated. Such conduct violates both the criminal and civil laws of this State and is destructive to a basic building block of society -- the family....It is an inherent evil against which children must be protected." - Chief Justice Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court

"Those who practice homosexuality should swiftly be put to death by the government. God emphatically condemns the practice of exchanging proper gender characteristics among men and women. God justly calls for the death-penalty for anyone who practices homosexuality." -Citizens for the Ten Commandments

"In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute [sic] instead of having a law like this passed for them." -A Letter to the Editor by George County Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson published March 28, 2002 in the George County Times (MS)

"The perversion that follows homosexuality is bestiality and then human sacrifice and cannibalism." -Barbara Blewster, a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the Arizona State Legislature