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The Pot and the Kettle

Speaking of displaced persons camps (see post below), today's New York Times has a fascinating (random) article on how badly Americans treated Jewish displaced persons after WWII. Many people I know have been very surprised. When I was researching for my book back in 2009, I learned a lot about how bad things were, so the article just makes me sad. Here's a highlight:

“We entered the synagogue, which was packed with the greatest stinking mass of humanity I have ever seen,” [Gen. George S.] Patton wrote. “Of course, I have seen them since the beginning and marveled that beings alleged to be made in the form of God can look the way they do or act the way they act.”

For every American Jew who has been so critical of anti-Semitism in Europe, remember that the US has historically not really loved Jews any more. (And you just need to read the completely fucked up comments on the article to see that this is not just something that is a historical problem.) This country is just much better at hiding our anti-Semitism, just as we are experts at whitewashing the true history of "freedom" and "democracy" in a land built on the backs of slave labor, the 3/5 Compromise, and votes only for white male landowners. We are as failed at living up to our ideals as any other country, but really, really great at being sanctimonious.

What we know from history is that Jews can find refuge in places for quite some time, but it always comes to an end. Husband always says we should be ready to flee because the US is really no different. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way, but people really love believing the lies - that the Constitution is for everyone - because it means we don't have to do the hard work to make it true. And yes, I realize that I still have it pretty good living here compared to some other places. But that doesn't mean I have to settle for what is. I want to see the US really be the shining beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, and it hurts me that so many of my fellow countrymen like to settle for half measures. The truth shall set you free.



Mumps: A Fairy Tale

MumpsOnce upon a time, in a displaced person's camp in Austria, the only child of Holocaust survivors came down with the mumps. For parents whose entire families were lost - either to the Nazi death camps or to the Iron Curtain - this was beyond devastating. They would have done anything if only they could have prevented their little boy from contracting this terrible disease. Fortunately, the boy survived. The family moved to the United States, where the boy grew up, married, and had his own family. Everyone was very excited that the children could receive a vaccine that would prevent them from going through what they had experienced decades ago. Many, many years later, one of the daughters of the boy with mumps had her own baby. He, too, received a vaccine.

The very idea that a person would not take this precious opportunity to protect his or her child, and to protect the children of other, is horrifying to this family. What evil, wicked forces would brainwash parents to turn down a lifesaving option? They cannot understand.

This fairy tale does not have to have an unhappy ending. The spell of the anti-vaccination, anti-science advocates can be broken. It will take bravery and moral courage, but as this family knows, the alternative is even scarier.



Going to the Dogs

I feel the same way about dogs as I do Stephen King novels*: I like them, but they scare me. My dog phobia probably stems from the time I was about four or five** and I was petting my great uncle's dog, Lucky. Lucky was one of those curly haired dogs with a mustache that I currently like (from a distance). Everyone talked about what a good dog Lucky was, and that was true until he jumped up and ripped open my face in the space between my lip and nose. There was some speculation that Lucky was not meaning to bite me, but that in his eagerness to lick my face off, his tooth snagged my skin. Regardless of the reason (and Lucky did not fill us in), I was rushed to the emergency room, and Lucky was ushered into a corner, yelled at, and I think hit repeatedly with a newspaper. Fortunately for both of us, there was no permanent damage except psychological scarring that makes me like dogs from a distance.

Anyway, I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of the number of douche bag humans who let their dogs run free in Central Park. Two Saturdays ago, I watched a look of complete terror overtake a jogger's face as an off-leash large dog charged her and the dog's owner giggled. About 40 minutes later, another leashless, medium-size dog darted right in front of me then stopped suddenly as I was running. I almost slammed into the animal and flipped over. At least the owner sheepishly apologized. This was the third time in two weeks that I almost fell over an out-of-control dog. I'll also never forget the fuckface who was playing catch with her golden retriever during the New York City Half Marathon: of course the ball got into a crowd, and there was a small amount of mayhem.

The other runner and I were lucky. A few months ago, a woman riding her bike flipped over a dog as it darted in front of her while chasing a squirrel. In the ensuing news article, several dog owners justified letting their animals run wild because their dogs never get out of hand, except, as one owner said, when her "dog sees a squirrel." As we all know, Central Park has no squirrels except for the hundreds of squirrels. (Or other dogs that might excite them.) Just ask the biker, who sustained a brain injury.

Gah! I hate people. Please, if you have a dog, and you love your dog, respect the fact that no matter how "good" the beast usually is, at the end of the day, it is still a dog. It has animal instincts and no intrinsic sense of morality. To keep everyone (including the dog) safe, leashes truly are a man's best friend.

*from the 1970s and 1980s. **I'm sure my mom will clarify the age in the comments - thanks Mom! (seriously)