“I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear (Donald Trump’s plan).”
— Former Governor of Massachusetts William (Bill) Weld
More than three years ago I sat in a friend’s apartment in Krakow, Poland, after visits to various places in and outside the city where people by the thousands were pulled from their homes with brute force in the middle of the night, their belongings thrown onto the street, some of them who dared to resist thrown out of windows to their deaths, their modest storefront businesses destroyed, simply because of their ethnic or religious background. Human hate run amuck.
The dreadful period came to be known as “Kristallnacht”, in English, “Night of Broken Glass”, when windows were smashed and broken glass littered the streets and squares along with people’s possessions and family heirlooms. All for hate.
I was moved to tears as I walked through Auschwitz and Birkenau Nazi concentration camps, where the history of what happened to European Jews is preserved. So moved that I returned to my friend’s flat and made a video impromptu.
In that vein, this is an impromptu writing. What has led me to write this? Last night I watched a live New York Times broadcast on Facebook, in which a young woman named Abril took questions from viewers as she told the story of how at 11 years old she came to the United States from Mexico with her parents, crossing the border illegally. She was a child. She had no say in the matter. Her parents made that decision. Today, Abril is still in the United States by executive order from the White House that has allowed 11 million undocumented migrants to remain in the Unites States. Many of them, like Abril, have gone to school, work, pay their taxes and have become productive members of society. But during the live broadcast, before Abril had even had a chance to utter a single word, the haters turned up in great numbers, spewing some of the most vile, hateful words I’ve not heard lobbed so freely in the United States in decades.
Abril remained calm and answered some tough questions, showing herself to be a poised young woman. Yet, the hate continued. Then my mind wandered back to Poland, and the people in the United States were sounding very much like the people of Nazi Germany. And the events that followed, “Kristallnacht”, began to ring like Donald Trump’s plan, “to build a wall”, keep Muslims out, “round-up” 11 million people like Abril in the United States, breaking apart families – some of those individuals who came to the United States illegally now have children who were born in the United States – driven by hate, not humanity.
I know it doesn’t matter what I say to Donald Trump supporters. It doesn’t matter what anybody says to a Trump supporter. Their love for him is undying, unshakeable. He can do and say anything and their love for him will remain unchanged. I know this now. This is to appeal to the rest of you who aren’t quite onboard as Trump fanboys or fangirls. To the rest of you fellow Americans who are not parrots and instead rightly question the actions and words of anyone seeking high office.
So I go back to my words from more than three years ago, the video, as someone concerned about history repeating, and in all places, the professed land of the free and home of the brave. Do we stop with Mexicans and Muslims? Who among us do we go after next? I think we’re better than that.