To the editor: Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post had a column recently asking “How Dumb Can A Nation Be and Still Survive?” Many of us are asking that question. Recently, well-fed self-satisfied Americans were loud, rude and disruptive at the Anchorage Assembly meetings where mask mandates were being discussed. Fearless anti-mask patriots were wearing faux Star of David patches to symbolize their oppression. Tone deaf and ignorant are apt words to describe this bit of tacky political theater.
Prior to Nazi Germany’s campaign to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe and Russia, German Jews were forced to wear the Star of David so they could be easily identified. It made the process of killing them more efficient. From babies and children to grandparents and every age in between, death was the final result. Where is the equivalence to being asked to wear a mask to protect the American public — our family, friends, neighbors, communities and economy — during a deadly pandemic? The anti-mask mob at assembly meetings trivializes the Holocaust and demean themselves simultaneously. For an in-depth examination of the Holocaust I’d recommend Daniel Goldhagen’s “Hiltler’s Willing Executioners.” To say this book is disturbing is an understatement. Although no words can adequately convey the immense degradation and terror of millions tortured and murdered by the Nazis, he conveys the reality of it convincingly. Perhaps a fact-based understanding would make it less likely that people would use Holocaust imagery for their own political purposes.
This book is also a reminder to avoid charismatic demagogues who promise to solve all of our problems while they blame and demonize immigrants, minorities and political opponents.