I was raised an observant Jew.
I rarely talk about my milk-religion, although on the balance my experience growing up in Judaism was a positive one, because these days I am about as bad a Jew as is possible in 2014.
Being a surgically sterilized polytheistic pagan who regrew his foreskin, I'm pretty much the embodiment of a broken link in a chair of ancestry going back hundreds or even thousands of years. There are likely people out there who do greater disservice to the faith, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one on short notice.
However, while I may have betrayed the faith of my forebears, racially my background is purely Eastern European Jew.
Given that it's an identity I generally reject, you might imagine that it takes a staggaringly grievous offense to fill me with anger as a Jew. But in the last few weeks, right-wing Christianity has been doing a bang-up job of it.
I am thirty-three years old, and thus belong to the last generation to be raised surrounded by survivors of the Nazi concentration, work, and death camps. From a young age I was told the stories of my people's systematic dehumanization and mechanized extermination.
Before my thirteenth birthday I'd seen photos and read accounts of the world's first factory-based genocide: the piles of corpses, mounds of ash, death chambers build for efficient wholesale slaughter, and the emaciated frames of hopeless survivors being liberated by the advancing American and Soviet militaries/ These are all part of my racial memory, and central to the experience of what it meant to be a late 20th-century Jew.
For a long time, I believed that Scott Lively's disgraceful book The Pink Swastika, which asserts that "...the Nazi party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history" and is often touted or referenced by Christian extremists, was the lowest the right could sink.
The last few weeks have proven that belief to be tragically incorrect.
I'm going to draw on the excellent Right Wing Watch for these links, since I don't want to drive traffic to the original sources (most often Matt Barber's vile website), but those sources are all cited within the posts I've linked to:
- Far-right columnist John Biver said that "...full capitulation to the homosexual agenda... or it will be re-education, incarceration, bankruptcy, marginalization, and state-sanctioned ridicule... or worse... are there any available cattle cars around?" He was alluding to the cattle cars in which millions of Jews were shipped to extermination camp.
- Pat Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, criticized a United Nations report on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church by comparing it to Kristallnacht, the pogrom against German Jews in 1938 seen by many as the true beginning of the Jewish experience of the Nazi Holocaust (as distinct from the Nazi oppression and extermination of other populations such as the Roma, the disabled, and homosexuals)
- Christian extremist Matt Barber said, "Christians are going to have to start wearing a yellow cross. Are we in 1939 Germany here?" He was referring to the yellow Star of David worn by Jews in the ghettoes and later the camps. Gay men wore a pink triangle, lesbians wore a black one (which was multipurpose), and Roma a brown one.
- Indiana pastor Jeff Allen, writing (again) on Matt Barber's website , said of gay and liberal activists: "Many of them really do console themselves with fantasies of their own Kristallnacht, in which Christians are euphemistically "taken out of the way" as part of the 'gay'-stapo's 'final solution' to the 'Christian problem.'"
And that's just the last few weeks! However, lest you feel I'm unfairly picking on Matt Barber, going back further we find:
- Bryan Fischer on the Supreme Court's marriage equality rulings: "...doing to [Christians] what the Nazis did to the Jews"
- And one more classic from Fischer: "Ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They'll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany."
And so, for all the Christians, homophobes, and right-wing activists who don't seem to get it, speaking as someone who is racially, if not spiritually Jewish, allow me to make something abundantly clear:
Not being allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, have prayers to your particular god read at state-funded functions/institutions, or have the government make legal policies based on your particular holy book, is most emphatically not actually the same as being torn from your homes and families, and then systematically exterminated.
If you think that it is, your life has been so blessed with social privilege that you have become disconnected from reality.