I worry that maybe I'm losing my sense of humour. That I'm beginning to take things way too seriously. Alternately, I'm wondering if I'm finally taking things seriously enough. I don't know. I'll let you be the judge.
The other day I was talking with someone who had just bought one of my books and had asked me to sign it. We chatted nicely and I remarked that she must read my blog because she knew so much about me. She laughed and said that she reads every day and that, of all the blogs she reads, I was the only daily blogger. "You're kind of like the 'blog nazi'" she said. The smile froze on my face. She saw it and quickly apologized saying, 'I probably shouldn't say it that way.' I shook off the moment and just said that I had been taken by surprise by that turn of phrase.
In fact I've heard people jokingly referring to others as the 'this nazi' or the 'that nazi' for some while and never much thought about it. However, that's probably because, being human and therefore naturally egocentric, it wasn't ever used about me. The moment it was, I bridled with upset.
We were the first to be killed.
I remember sitting, shocked, listening to a lecture back when I was taking my undergraduate degree, as my professor spoke about touring the institutions in Germany a few years after the war. He said that he asked, innocently, why there were only children in the institution. His question was met with stony silence. He said that it slowly dawned on him the understanding of the weight of prejudice that people with disabilities bear and how dangerous was the idea of ‘ten fingered perfection’. Of course all the elders had been eliminated, purged for the perfection of the race. I sat there shattered. I wondered why no one had told me.
We were killed in fists-full.
I remember riding a streetcar in Toronto, just having moved here and seeing a young man, about my age, wearing a pink triangle. I’d never seen the symbol before and something about it intrigued me. I approached him and asked what the triangle meant. He told me, in a normal speaking voice, which was an act of courage in those dark days of violence and repression, of the plight of gay men and lesbian women in Nazi Germany. He talked about the camps, the medical experimentation, the pink triangle – made larger than the other triangles to be easy for all to spot. I listened in fear. Others listened in disgust. Some listened in agreement with the idea of extermination. I wondered why no one told me.
I'm a descendant of a couple who changed their faith from Judaism to Catholicism upon emigration - to try to escape prejudice.
There aren't enough fingers on one hand to count the millions killed.
I remember, only days ago, talking to my parents and asking questions about my Great Grandparents, who had emigrated to Canada. I listened to a barely remembered story of a man and a woman, connected to me by blood but lost to me in time, who fled oppression to come to a new land to make a new life. They left behind much. In the rubble of the life left was their faith. They left behind Judaism and adopted Catholicism, not because of belief but because of the weariness and daily grind of fear. They wanted all new. They wanted themselves new. You know, I've shared my life with my name and yet have never gotten to know it as anything other than the tag that follows Dave ... as the puppy after the child. In a few words describing a decision that is never talked about at family events, a decision that changed the course of our families history, I was left dumbfounded. I am not my name. I know. But my name is me. It means something. Something I don't yet understand. I wonder why no one told me.
Nazi's took people's lives.
They took people's loves.
They took people's identity
I find the term 'Nazi' to be frightening. It denotes a shameful time in our history. It denotes a terrifyinging set of ideas. Ideas that I do not believe are long gone, ideas that can drape themselves in modern clothing and speak in clever riddles. They scare me.
And what scares me more is that a word that eliminated, that castrated, that brutalized, that horrified a generation - is now being used to describe someone simply stern or controlling or even passionate. Nazi's, dear friends, weren't school marms with vicious wrists and a strong rulers. Nazi's were murderers and thugs.
I don't like the trivialization of something horrific.
I don't think that enough time will ever pass for the word Nazi to mean anything but horror.
But maybe I'm losing my sense of humour.
Or maybe I've gained a sense of proportion.
I don't know which.