If we can’t apply the words, “terrorist” and “terrorism,” to this this situation, then they have no meaning, and we ought to stop using them. When someone from the Middle East (or sympathetic to someone in the Middle East) murders in the name of a political agenda, we don’t hesitate to call it terrorism–which it is, of course. When African Americans protest in Baltimore, we call them “thugs.” However, when white people murder African Americans. or when those opposed to abortion murder doctors at clinics, or when anti-government tax protesters kill government officials, the media sympathize with them and label them “mentally ill.” I suspect that the media would not be so sympathetic if an African American had done this in a white church. I’ll bet that the police would have killed such a person immediately on sight, and I can only imagine the horrible words the media would use to label then.
Look, I have no doubt that many of the people engaged in such violent activities are mentally ill (though most of them probably are legally competent to stand trial), but why is it we’re ready to label a white Christian person so quickly that way, but anyone else gets hammered?
I was recently discussing the concept of original sin in a workshop I was leading. I was explaining that I thought that this was a legitimate concept, even though I did not share it. If I ever did accept original sin, I would certainly apply it to the holocaust.
This photo was taken c. 1905 in Pinsk, Belarus. In the center is my grandmother, Leah Kaston (Kaplan). Standing behind her are my great-grandfather Ya’akov and my great-mother Rivka Kaston. To the far left is my Aunt Bunya, my grandmother’s sister. She tried to come to this country around 1915, but was turned back by immigration services at Ellis Island because of red eye (conjunctivitis). She returned to Belarus. Later her husband, and some of her children followed her, and they went to live in Babruysk, Belarus. Somewhere between 1941-1943, when the Nazis entered Babruysk, they shot my Aunt Bunya and her family and dumped them in mass graves.
When I was growing up, my grandmother cried frequently about her sister. There were always hushed tones and requests to me that I please not ask too many questions about this. I heard the sobbing, but I did not really get to ask or say much. I have always thought that this affected the upbringing of my mom and her sister. My mom felt neglected and unattended. Is it any wonder that my grandmother could not give more attention to my mom when she felt so deeply wounded by the murder and absence of her beloved Bunya? There are many families with holes and wounds like this, especially many Jewish families, and sometimes I wonder how we might close the circle and find a way to restore the gaping hole that persists to this day in my family and in many others who went through this.
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