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  • Writer's pictureKaren L

You May Not Like These Ideas--Difficult to digest"

These perpetrators are like serial killers, only they operate on a much larger scale, at a national or continental level. They certainly are not terrified, and they know that most people cannot and do not want to think of the possibility of an act of genocide. Ordinary people want to sleep, and the simple thought of genocide can prevent an ordinary person from sleeping. The perpetrators of genocide bank on this to set up mechanisms for mass killing in all tranquility: No one will be able to conceive, hence accept and want to believe, the truth." Patrick Des Bois The Holocaust by Bullets I have heard this train of thought before, and I believe it is true. If one cannot believe that a heinous act occurred, one can push the act of violence out of one's mind and forget. We do this everyday, since we cannot overload ourselves with horror. I would be beyond despondent. What does one pay attention to and what do we overlook is a question difficult for me to reconcile. Irregardless, pushing the unthinkable out of conscious thought partially explains why, for example, the United States did not act sooner to destroy concentration camps or accept more Jews into the country immediately before World War II. The same can be said for the increase in shootings that have occurred in the last 20 years, especially in schools. The idea was inconceivable until it was ultimately understood that school shootings were a phenomenon. Israel is another example. Not before I was actually confronted with Jewish settlements and Palestinian villages in the West Bank, did I accept that Israel was engaged in an "Occupation". Previously, I had thought that Jews were incapable of racist governmental and military policies. My understanding was facilitated by compassionate tour guides who showed me the truth. I am fortunate because I have the gift of seeing and believing. When I was 17, and I boarded a transcontinental train and saw separate train cars for "negroes" and "whites", I knew something was not right. Especially, since it was already 1968, and the "negro" car steadily became hotter, smellier and dirtier while the "white" car had air conditioning and was cleaned. From then on, I began to understand that the unthinkable was possible. However, the process has been long and slow. The closer one is to an awful event, the more challenging to accept. Could Jews really be in favor of treating Palestinians as less than human? Could educated Germans look the other way when their colleagues and coworkers were treated worse than animals? Yes and yes. The leap from ignoring a homeless person to condoning murder is short. We think, "It's not possible. There must be an explanation. So and so was asking for it." And then out of sight, out of mind. I saw this process in my mother, who is a Holocaust survivor, as the current president began showing his true colors a few years ago--banning Muslims, putting Central Americans in cages at the border, condoning the actions of white supremacists. She said, "Oh no, those KKK members and white supremacists aren't Nazis. Ach, no." I was not equating them with the Nazis of Germany in the last century, but there are similarities. My mother was unable to make that connection; it was just too frightening, most probably. "I am a person who unites with others to fight evil wherever it resides, knowing that one can sometimes be influenced and become its actor or instigator...I am convinced that there is only one human race--a human race that shoots two-year-old children. For better or for worse I belong to that human race and this allows me to acknowledge that an ideology can deceive minds to the point of annihilating all ethical reflexes and all recognition of the human in the other." Patrick Des Bois The Holocaust By Bullets As horrifying it is to realize that we are all humans, capable of differing degrees of atrocious behavior, the idea demystifies and clarifies how people do what they do. Everyday, we need to observe our actions and those of others. I am not suggesting that we are all potential murderers, but we are capable of cruelty. Treating others badly, to saying something vile, to joining up with others, especially in certain circumstances can happen quickly as history demonstrates; threatening violence and actually commiting an act in a moment of passion go hand-in-hand, as police records or the news reports every day. Vulnerable people looking at sites on the Internet to feeling a camaradarie with others on the site to actually joining a hate group is a common road. I have no idea what happened to these typical people who murdered Jews with impunity; but, I have a hunch, it was not a long route from the Nazi youth groups to the army to shooting perceived enemies.

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