Never before, from my teen years through all my adult ones, have I ever felt so lonely, out of place, and sad.
And angry at liberals. who insist on reprinting something from The Onion.
I’m a Jew who lives 90 minutes due north from Charleston in a tiny coastal city I will call NMB basically because those are its initials. Please understand how much I like most of the people I have met. They are good people and until this week I was happy with my choice. Many of the people I know are also shocked and sad this week.
But I don’t know if they could ever understand how offensive I find the Confederate flag. To me, it’s a symbol of slavery–nothing more.
Funny, but I like the next door neighbor who bought a vanity license plate, with a picture of the flag, and some writing about the confederacy, very much.
Yet I was born in the decade following World War Two. I grew up reading and watching movies about the Holocaust.
My family all seem to have left Europe in 1904 so as far as I know nobody I’m related to was killed in the Holocaust.
26 years after the Holocaust ended, I lived in Israel in the Kibbutz where the real Exodus, The Star of David, landed. I have always loved to listen to stories. That’s why people love to tell me them, I think.
People didn’t talk about the Holocaust or Europe at all. I was used to people not talking about the countries they came from as my grandmothers, and all the old people I knew never did. They talked about landing in New York, and their lives afterward.
It was too painful to talk about life under the czars and all that was denied to them.
But damn their lives were a walk in the park compared to the people in the kibbutz. They talked about the boat landing, coming to the shore, staying at the kibbutz (S’dot Yam).
I felt so lucky to have been born in New York where we were free. When my parents bought their house, my mother cried to me as her mother had died the year before, and never knew that we owned property. A corner lot on a third of an acre–property!
Something we weren’t allowed to do in Bielorussia. The only profession we were allowed was to be a moneylender. They so wanted the Shylock myth to be preserved.
Men were allowed to be conscripted into the Czar’s army. My great uncle cut off his finger. They all left when they were old enough, and sent for their parents.
I am not saying this is anything like the Black experience but it was our experience. I would assume many other Jews get chills–and not of the good kind–when they see a confederate flag.
I can’t imagine what a Black person feels when they see that flag.
But I know what it feels like to be Jewish and see a Swastika.
I don’t know many Jews who wanted to be the elephant who talked about how similar both flags are in intent and meaning.
But The Onion did that for us in 1998 when they put a Swastika on a Confederate flag with a middle finger pointing at the Swastika.
It might have been great satire in 1998. It might be in six months. (It’s the second most popular Onion article today.)
Today it sent daggers through my heart, reminded me that I’m very much a minority in the Bible Belt.
I have many Black friends, mostly, in Atlanta. They are family. I get where they’re coming from, and they put up with me.
When I was thirteen I wanted to sneak in the bus for counselors at camp, and go to the 1963 March on Washington, and hear Dr. Martin Luther King give one of the best speeches ever. Unfortunately I was caught.
My parents wouldn’t let me go on Freedom Summer when I turned fourteen.
Civil rights have always been that important to me. Even when I was a teenager in a gilded ghetto on Long Island.
But I must have lost my sense of humor sometime this week because I feel nothing but sick about The Onion “satire.”
What’s truly angering me is that I see it on the Facebook walls of people who would scream if you satirized disability.
Is it that hard to understand people are hurting? And that The Onion piece puts salt on the wound?
Or are these the ravings of a lunatic?
Take down that flag before I cover the vanity plate next door with gel nail polish. I know how hard that is to get off. Not yet a month ago somebody defaced my friend’s Obama plate with purple gel nail polish. Sounds so cathartic but…..
Please sign the petition to take down the flag. It’s a start…