January 27, 2020

Holocaust Memorial Day

Filed under: adventures in the world of today,things Rhiannon does not like — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 3:13 pm

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day: a day for remembering the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The systematic murder of six million Jews across Europe began with the separating and dehumanising of the Jewish people. Today there is increasing division and hateful rhetoric. The theme for this year’s memorial is Stand Together. We need to stand together with others in our communities in order to stop the spread of identity-based hostility by using our voices, presence, platform or influence – whatever that might be.

When I think of activism I think of Martin Niemöller. His short poem encapsulates that need to stand together. It’s worth bearing in mind as well that Niemöller was speaking from his own experience, about his complicity in genoicide though staying silent at the time.

Today, as well as the staggering numbers of the murdered dead, I think about the living. I think particularly about Muslim friends with the growing rise in anti-Islamic hatespeech in the UK, and I think about my European friends for whom this will be a particularly difficult week, and about trans persons who I see constantly targeted by people who should be their allies. Sometimes it can be hard to speak up for yourself when you are being bullied or victimised. That makes it all the more important to challenge abuse when we see it on behalf of those who may feel alone, unheard or unseen.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemöller

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