Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tolerance or No Tolerance

Tolerance or No Tolerance is the subtitle of a paper that I am delivering Saturday morning in Boston. My point is that even though we preach tolerance, we practice intolerance. Our policies, practices and laws entrench the other (whoever is different--sex,race, class, ethnicity) into a secondclass citizenship. Once a government legitimizes intolerance, no one seems to notice.

Today is the anniversary of 1938 Kristallnacht. The intolerance started years earlier: there was a one day boycott against Jewish owned shops in 1933, kosher butchering was outlawed, Jewish children were restricted in public schools. In 1935 Germans of Jewish faith were deprived of German citizenship (Nuremburg Laws). In 1936 Jews could not participate in elections. "Jews Not Welcome" signs were common. It In 1938 Germany passed many laws restricting Jewish occupations and economic activity, Jews were required to carry identification cards. November 9 and 10, 1938 were the "Nights of the Broken Glass." "spontaneous" mobs attacked Jewish people in their homes, places of work (7500 business destroyed) or worship (1000 synagogues were burned), on the streets. Just under 100 Jews were killed and many more injured, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to Concentration Camps.
Many consider Kristallnacht to be the beginning of the Holocaust. I say it started earlier.
We need to remember Kristallnacht and what came before it so it (and the events leading to it) may never be repeated.

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