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Posts Tagged ‘logic of fascism’

“It happened on Parshat Vayera. The worst anti-Semitic attack in American history occurred while Jews around the world were reading the Torah portion that tells the story of Lot, an immigrant.

Lot moves to Sodom, and prospers there. The Midrash says he becomes a judge. His daughters intermarry with the locals. Then one day, while sitting at the gates of the city, the assimilating immigrant sees two strangers approach. He asks them to “spend the night and bathe your feet”— the Midrash says he learned to welcome strangers from his uncle Abraham, the first Jew. Lot “prepares them a feast.”

But in Sodom, the natives hate strangers. “Where are the men who came to you tonight?” they demand. “Bring them out to us.” Lot tries to protect his guests. “I beg you friends,” he implores, “do not commit such a wrong.” For the men of Sodom, however, this just underscores Lot’s foreignness. He hasn’t really assimilated; he isn’t one of them. He’s a threat. “The fellow came here an immigrant and already acts the ruler,” they declare. “Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” […] Obviously, America is not Sodom. But Bowers tried to harm Jews, at least in part, for the same reason the men of that ancient city tried to harm Lot: Because Jews were welcoming strangers. Instead of assimilating into a culture suffused with anti-immigrant hatred, HIAS — which was founded to help Jewish immigrants to the United States —now assists immigrants and refugees from across the world. […]

For Jews, the lesson of yesterday’s massacre is very simple and very old: Protecting the strangers among us is not charity. It is self-defense. Every time Jews defend the right of American Muslims to follow sharia, we protect our right to follow halacha. Every time Jews reject politicians who demonize Latinos we make it less likely that those politicians will demonize us. “Hate them, not us” is a losing strategy because once empowered, bigots widen their targets. For people who define America as a white Christian nation, Jews will never be white enough.

Robert Bowers accused Jews of “bringing” Muslims and refugees to the United States. To him and all the other white nationalists Trump has emboldened, our answer should be: Damn right. We will demand a humane policy for people seeking refuge in the United States and defend those immigrants — no matter their race or faith — who are already here.”

– Peter Beinart, “Hate That Drove Pittsburgh Shooter — And Trump.” Forward, October 28, 2018.

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“Today is the 85th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, a pivotal moment in the fight against fascism and Nazism in Toronto and Canada in the early 1930s.

The riot saw Jews and Italians take direct action in self-defence against a Toronto “Swastika Club” that was displaying swastika banners and inciting hatred during a baseball game in the Christie Pits park.

Their courage in standing up to these racists helped to stop the growth of Swastika Clubs and represented a serious setback for the city’s fascists and Nazis at a time when antisemitism was dangerously on the rise.

This terrible history of overt antisemitism in the city and country is mostly forgotten now, though a close friend of mine came across a striking example of it in newspaper archives that occurred within my own community, Long Branch, also in 1933.

Long Branch is now a fully developed part of Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto that borders Mississauga in the west of the metropolis.

But in 1933 it was a separate, sleepy community that had many cottagers and summer vistors in it due to its lake front aspect and its famous beaches.

As the Globe and Mail article relates, the municipality of Long Branch decided to ban all Jews not from Long Branch (and there were likely not many of those) from its beaches. Despite the obvious racism at work the town’s Deputy Reeve Charles Brock tried to claim it had nothing to do with race!

This history of racism and resistance resonates again now especially with a US administration openly sympathetic to white supremacist narratives,  the rise of the far right across Europe and the growth of homegrown fascist and racist groups in Toronto and Canada.”

– Michael Laxer, ““Ban on Jews” – A 1933 antisemitic beach edict in Long Branch reminds of Toronto’s past on the anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot.The Left Chapter, August 16, 2018.  

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“We don’t want a capitulation,” said Rud. “You see, Reedly, we don’t want any excuse for an assembly of the old governments on our side. … From our point of view the war to end war can have no formal end. We’ve got controlled shipping, amalgamated air forces, pooled finance, consolidated news-services, a common uniform. We want to keep them common for evermore. But the day we proclaim Victory and Peace the diplomatists and nationalists will come creeping out of their funk-holes again with their flags and claims and bills on each other and all that sort of thing. Versailles all over again.”

– H. G. Wells, The Holy Terror. 1939. 3.2.7.

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