Categorized | Columnists, In My Mind's I

How long till the supremacists will find us?

Posted on 16 August 2018 by admin

Open before me on my computer screen is a post from a new (at least to me) organization called “They Can’t,” based in Jerusalem. That is in very small letters. Above, in much larger letters, is this: “The Jews are responsible for all the bad that has happened in this world. They all deserve to die.”

The “signatures” are an email address and two hashtags, none of which I’d copy here. In between, in big bold white letters shot with red, I read: “We removed this post…and 73,000 other anti-Semitic posts, videos and accounts! Help us DO MORE!”

Here’s the explanation and mission statement: “‘They Can’t’ refuses to let this incitement stand! Hate online is a worldwide phenomenon and has required us to track these perpetrators in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, Hebrew, French and German. Only TOGETHER can we defeat these forces and WIN THE ONLINE WAR!”

Of course, this online business is just a newer form of the old war we’ve been fighting since Biblical times. Here comes Amalek again, sneaking up on little kids wearing kippahs, making even adult men who have covered their heads (“religiously,” I might say) afraid to honor God in public. Random acts coalesce into mob actions.

And now comes this: A little town called Ulysses, in the rural, Amish area of north-central Pennsylvania, has been identified by the Washington Post as “A haven for white supremacists.” That’s the headline of a clipping I’ve received from one of those blessed folks who send me items that I’m unlikely to see here.

In that little hamlet, there is an entire house dedicated to Adolf Hitler, where “swastikas stand on poles, and Nazi flags fly side by side with star-spangled banners.” (I’ve taken just a little liberty with these quotes from a lengthy article by Gabriel Pogrund.) Potter County, Pennsylvania, has been a haven for white supremacy for 100 years, he reports, when the KKK first took up residence there. In the mid-20th century, it hosted a gathering of Klansmen, skinheads and neo-Nazis, all joined together as the World Aryan Congress. Recently, residents received “goody bags” with candy and this message: “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake.” The local newspaper ran an advertisement reading “God Bless the KKK.”

A 43-year-old woodcarver named Daniel Burnside owns the Hitler house. He doesn’t call Donald Trump a leader of his cause, but does say “We’re anti-Semitic. When Trump says something that aligns with us —  close the borders, build the wall, look after your own — that’s good. We’ve been saying this for 25 years, but he has made it mainstream. We’re a white nation, and I respect that he supports that…”

Why am I not surprised that a white restaurant manager recently ran away from Ulysses with his black wife? After he found a KKK flyer outside his home, this man spearheaded an anti-racism gathering right there in town. And “Those guys drove by us and gave the gun signal, like they’re gonna shoot us,” he said. (One of “those guys” had already served 10 prison years for aggravated assault upon a black man.)

A long time ago — at the time the Holocaust was first becoming something talked about out loud — my Sunday school ninth-graders wondered why German Jews hadn’t just left their homes at the earliest signs of trouble. I asked what they would think if they went home from our class to find their parents sitting around the kitchen table with some non-Jewish neighbors who were advising them to make a quick getaway. And the kids laughed at how ridiculous that would be.

I write all this after the latest gathering of white supremacists in Washington, D.C. To them, we Jews are not white, and therefore not safe. I’m a native Pennsylvanian from nowhere near Ulysses. But today, as I write this, I worry if it’s only a short time until Ulysses spreads, and may even find us.

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