Who is Safe?

Scapegoating is back.

This election was won by a preponderance of white people, men and women. Blaming Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans and the Jewish bankers won the election. A disinformation campaign waged for years by the right wing that would have made Herr Goebels proud won the election.

A friend of my daughter's created a sanctuary movement, with door signs announcing that our homes, businesses, offices, schools are sanctuaries for those targeted by the angry white mobs supporting the president-elect.

In a way, it was the symbolic next step in a private journey I've been on for many years. It goes like this.

I was born after World War II. My heritage is Jewish though I wouldn't know how to behave inside a synagogue. All of the family I've known are Jewish. Obviously (since I wasn't born yet), I never knew any of the Shoah victims. But I knew of them -- many family members murdered by Hitler's genocide. I have a family scroll with Stars of David for relatives killed in the Shoah. There are many -- whole families wiped out. The saddest are the children whose names no one could remember, so they're just indicated as girl or boy, sometimes not even gender was known.

I read a lot of Holocaust literature. It's an obsession of mine. It probably began with Anne Frank's diary. And I created a database of all the people who once lived in my grandfather's town in Belarus, a living testimony to a place where not a single Jew remains. It shouldn't be a surprise that Jews nearly matched Blacks in our opposition to Trump. We've seen this before. So have they.

When I think of Anne Frank or my family, I think of all the ordinary people who did nothing to protect friends and neighbors. And some who did much. This is a confession. I have always looked at the world this way.

In my head, I judge myself and people I meet: safe people, possibly not safe people. It's not based on how wonderful they are or how much I like them. It's based on these three things: Have they ever stood up for principle against opposition? Can they be trusted to keep secrets or are they gossip-prone? Are they flawlessly courageous?

I hope that I am someone others consider safe. I will work to be so, knowing I have faltered and not always met this ideal. Neither did those who ultimately risked their own lives helping the Jews of Skidel or anywhere else. Many were the unlikely ones, people who stepped up but didn't fit the typical picture of courage.

We don't have the Shoah. But we have intense hatred and vitriol against anyone different, and that includes political protesters. The open bigotry we've seen both before and since the election cannot be tolerated. That's a call for all of us to fight back. Even white people like us. Especially white people like us.