Congruences and tragedy

Congruences and tragedy

The world (if it paid attention) marked the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht the night of Nov. 9 and 10 – or “Pogromnacht,” to use the name coined for the brutal Nazi aktion by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (see page 14).

But just as there are a number of special Purims, celebrations of Jewish deliverance, and a number of tragedies are said to have fallen on Tisha B’Av, some anniversaries that are particularly meaningful to Jews fall on Nov. 9.

As The New Yorker points out this week, “Germany observes no official holiday on Nov. 9, the day stunned, delirious East Germans breached the Berlin Wall. This is because Nov. 9 is also the date on which Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated, in 1918, two days before Germany’s defeat in the First World War. On Nov. 9, 1923, Hitler attempted to overthrow the Weimar Republic, in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.”

And of course we know what happened on the date in 1938, when, The New Yorker notes, “Nazi gangs attacked Jews and their property across Germany and Austria, foreshadowing the genocide to come.”

Moments on the timeline often overlap, sometimes too closely for comfort. Just last week, ahead of Veterans Day, our cover bore an image of soldiers saluting an American flag. Within the issue were interviews with local veterans. The day before it appeared in print, an Army major at Fort Hood in Texas reportedly went on a rampage, killing 13 people on the base and wounding dozens of others. He was, astonishingly, a psychiatrist, a mental health professional who counseled other soldiers about military and personal stresses. He was also a Muslim who had had contact with a radical imam, and the question is being asked whether the shootings should be classified as domestic terrorism. It is a logical question, one that is within the government’s purview to explore. It would be disingenuous not to ask it. (See below.)

Nevertheless, we ought to be wary of demonizing our fellow Americans who are also Muslim. After Sept. 11, 2001, Indian gas station attendants wore buttons proclaiming “I am Sikh” and not, therefore, Muslim. During World War II, Asian-Americans wore badges proclaiming they were Chinese, and not, therefore, Japanese.

We write these words on Veterans Day, and wish we did not have to. Our hearts go out to the families of these killed on American soil and the many others who have died in defense of the country.


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