Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

Fighting Fascism: We Need War Veterans Voices

I read a Wall Street Journal article today about  Fascist and radical nationalists marching in Polands’ Independence Day Celebrations yesterday. Tens of thousands attended the march.

On the same day here in America, we celebrated Veterans Day. In ceremonies, words and pictures, and silent thoughts and prayers, we considered the sacrifices of our Veterans.

I wonder how many veterans of the second world war are still alive in the world? I wonder what they think of the youth marching in Poland? Or of the marches our own home grown Nazi sympathizing youth have made recently, proudly wearing their swastika arm bands and reciting anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim epithets.

According to the National World War II Museum, 416,800 American Military lost their lives fighting Fascism during the war. Poland lost Five and a half MILLION people, 240,000 of them soldiers. Three million Polish Jews were exterminated. Nearly two million non-Jewish Polish civilians were also killed by the German Reich. The Nazi goal during WWII was to exterminate the Polish people and cleanse the country of it’s Polish culture. They very nearly succeeded.¹ Our fathers and grandfathers fought and died in the European theater, on foreign soil, to see that Hitler did NOT succeed.

And now we have young Polish citizens hungry to cleanse Poland of Jews and Muslims, homosexuals, and, it doesn’t take much imagination to conclude, any other group they find objectionable.  They seem to confuse their bigotry with patriotism, much as our own young nationalists do. Ironically, their slogan in Poland, borrowed from a speech US President Donald Trump made there in July is “We Want God”.

A young Polish man, part of the counter-protest Saturday, is quoted as saying “It’s getting more vicious…We are Polish Jews…We are really in fear.” The Polish Police were standing by to protect them.

I’ve been sickened by the wave of white nationalist and pro-Nazi sympathy that has washed over my own country recently.  You can read about my thoughts on that here.

But I would have hoped that in a country so completely devastated by Hitler and the Nazis, a country that still bears the scars of it’s seven WWII era concentration camps² and cemeteries full of the WWII dead, a country whose soil still clings to the DNA of it’s war dead, that the youth would be more enlightened to the dangers of  Fascism. And yet, they are embracing it. In large numbers. And, they believe, in the name of God.

My father was a veteran of WWII. And my father-in-law. And several of my uncles. And male friends of the family. Sadly, they are all gone now. They cannot give voice to the atrocities of that war and when they were here, they rarely spoke of it. It was not in vogue to talk of such things. They were rarely called upon to bear witness. And that is to our loss. History is never so compelling as when it is shared by those who lived it.

The sacrifices of our parents and grand parents are being taken for granted by our youth. We need strong and reproachful voices from people who know war, who can speak against the proliferation of hateful ideology and who understand the grief quotient of  war.

We especially need War Veterans Voices.

But we also need your voice. Speak up against the things your father or grandfather or great grandfather fought against. It’s not a Right or Left thing. It’s the right thing.

Too many of our young men are slipping into sentimentality for things they really know nothing of. They believe in militancy and heavy fire power and have no appetite for community, civil discourse or diversity. They believe in race as a defining character and in the superiority of one race over another. They want to divide our country and they have found an ally in their President who, wittingly or unwittingly, drives us further and further from the unity that is the namesake of our country.

I’m worried about the direction things are headed–not just here but globally. So many young men seem to believe that ethnic cleansing is the cure all for all socio-economic woes. And they believe that their ideology is pure and Godly, which is dangerous.

I’d like to think that they don’t really know what Fascism is or what it has wrought in the past, but I’m afraid that their ignorance is willful and that their understanding is more complete than I give them credit for and that I’m just being naive.

I’m interested to know what you think. Let me know in the comments.

©2017 Ilona Elliott

Me and Cosmo

The Author (on the right)

 

¹https://www.nationalww2museum.org/students-teachers/student-resources/research-starters/research-starters-worldwide-deaths-world-war

²https://go.fold3.com/holocaust_camps/

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12 Comments

  1. Absolutely love the idea of veterans becoming recognized for the wisdom and knowledge they have first hand,

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know Michele. I think they could teach our young people some valuable lessons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DanaDa Pistey

    People who don’t learn history are destined to repeat it. I am afraid that maybe the WWII veterans have done there children and especially their grand children a disservice with their reluctance to share their war experiences. Kids grow up with war movies and video games that glorify war and there is little to counter that. Then we have our politicians demonizing those who are different and don’t believe as they do. Is it any wonder we have the situation we find our world in.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. And too many of us are quiet about what is happening with White Supremacist movements here and abroad. Here it’s because conservatives seem to poo poo the whole idea of white supremacy issues, as long as they are fellow conservatives and vote Republican, they won’t call them out. It is so frustrating.

      Like

  3. Great post, Ilona. It’s so disheartening to have lived through the great social movements of the ’60s and ’70s, only to watch the whole world backsliding into tribalism and base nationalism. I’m afraid many of our leaders are too craven to risk their careers by speaking out. They value power over moral rectitude. We see it every day.

    All we can do is keep calling them out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I try not to be just “political”, but my conscience won’t let me not speak out about some things Kevin. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ilona, this was as good or better as any opinion piece I’ve read in the Washington Post or Huffington Post. It took my breath away… So very powerful! We have to continue to resist the hate and fear mongering and divisiveness no matter how discouraging it is at times. We need to be around like minded souls who can encourage us when we are down and visa versa. We need to get involved in every political contest at every level of government to send the message out that we remember the past and we sure as hell don’t want to repeat it. Thanks so much for the great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks AGMA. Some things are too important to not speak out against them. I’m pretty frustrated with the apathy I see in a large segment of our population.

      Like

  5. Sorry guys but you’ve got it all wrong. Polish Christians aren’t some lunatics running around with machetes cutting people’s heads off in the name of Jesus. But there is a group of people who will do exactly that, adding some extras in form of rapes and violence in the name of Allah. Take your guess. Poland doesn’t want to compromise its safety or the safety of its people. But the whole world does. So… call us bigots or other names but before you do that talk to a Polish person and ask what that march was all about and please don’t intimidate us by quoting poor media comments. We were under foreign occupation numerous times in the past and I just think we had enough of other countries telling us what to do…considering that the “greatness of having refugees ” didn’t exactly work for them as well as they hoped. And now they (France, Belgium and Germany mainly) want Poland to share that disaster. No thanks, we will let them keep their so called refugees. And please, don’t say we want to exterminate all foreign nationals or religions from our country because it is just poor and non evidence based comment. We have over 2 million Ukrainians, additionally Chinese, Turks, Romanians, Jews and Tatars (who de facto are Muslims) and lots of other nationalities and different religions living with us in Poland for years. And we have no issues with that. We have never had. But if EU wants Poland to accept so called refugees, who will rape our women and disrespect our culture, religion and values (it is happening every day in France, Sweden or Germany and UK) we simply say NO. But in the eyes of you guys we are dangerous bigots.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is hard not to see bigotry when you make comments like you have concerning refugees raping your women and doing violence in the name of Allah. Most of the refugees you fear will do such things are simply trying to escape the same fate–violence in the name of Allah by extremists and indiscriminate and unrelenting military force by Assad and his allies. They haven’t fled their home lands by the millions because they want to move to Europe and take advantage of your women or your way of life or disrespect your culture. They have been forced out by war atrocities and have fled to Europe in order to save their lives and the lives of their children. The European countries do not have the same cooperative intelligence and security systems in place that the US does to insure that terrorist cells do not plant people into the general population of Europe, nor do you have the checks and balances of borders that we do, so I understand your concerns. That is something to take up with your government and the leadership of the EU, but to turn your fear into anger against people who are simply trying to survive the debacle in Syria is an inhumane response. As for my own country, any American who chooses to wear a swastika as a symbol of pride and belief is displaying the depth of their ignorance and bigotry. And as far as Christians in Poland, I am sure the majority are God fearing, loving people, but if your love is simply for your self and those like yourself, note that Jesus counsels that even sinners love those who love them, but that true Christians love and pray for those who persecute them…MTT 5:43-48. If you read the blog post again, you might see that I did not condemn Polish Christians at large but stated that young people who are adopting Nazi/Nationalist ideologies are mistaken to believe that they are doing it in the name of God and Christianity. Those beliefs are absolutely counter to what Jesus taught and a good bible study might clear things up for you. I pray that your eyes might be opened and your heart softened to the plight of the refugees you fear so much. I’m sorry for the upheaval in Europe as a result of the refugee crisis, but it is not the fault of the refugees or the innocent civilians who have been caught in the cross fires of the extremists and the Assad government. Peace to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can totally see where you coming from and if I was following the mainstream media I would probably have similar views to yours. However I don’t and I filter information that are fed to me by mass media, but it doesn’t mean that I’m a neo-Nazis fanatic or wish bad things to happen to people in need who want to enter our country. I understand some of these people need to escape their own countries due to political instability, however it is also confusing that majority of the “refugees” are young male. Normally, you would expect more women and children to flee from the danger and those young man to stay and fight for their country. Or maybe it is just my opinion. Other thing is that as a refugee you should seek safety in the next closest country where there is no war. Please note for most “refugees” it would be either Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan or United Arab Emirates. As far as I know these countries have no military actions or wars going on and they Muslim countries (apart from Israel) so there would be no issues of cultural or religion differences. But yet, they have not offered to accept these poor, young, healthy males refugees. Why???
      Talking about Poland, have you ever heard about any major (I say major because as in every country there are few idiots here and there.) religious or racial hate crimes that would shock other countries? Have you ever heard about terrorists attacks against any other ethnic minority class that were done by Polish people? We are wary of other cultures but we are not aggressive as a nation and once we get to know them we are tolerant and welcoming and as per my earlier comment we have been living synonymously with them for years. And vice versa.
      However, what is now happening in Europe is getting out of hands for those who started it and they are looking for more countries to share their misery. Check out Britain First https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct8ii3QQ3QY . To be honest I don’t think we needs this in Poland. Do you want to see another one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DPp7wmwhcQ


      Summarising, I agree that swastika’s were a bit too harsh but how would you otherwise say “NO” for everybody to understand. Another thing is that the swastika symbol was only brought in by small group of people but the media broadcasted it for you to believe that this was the keystone of the march. Where in fact this march was to celebrate regaining our independence.
      This is your prerogative to feel and think what you believe is right but same is for us. Just because we don’t want something that the rest of the world feel is right for us, doesn’t make us hard extremists. Come to Poland and check for yourself…we are not as bad:). regards.

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      • Thanks for getting back to me. I apologize if the tone of my blog post made you feel that I was attacking Poland. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to accuse Poland in general of being a country of facists. My own ethnic roots are from your part of the world as my father’s mother was born in Hungary and and my husband’s grandmother was born in Poland. My concern is that young people might get caught up in movements that are being orchestrated by people with hidden agendas so I would caution you to be careful. There are lots of so called news outlets that are posting videos designed to make us fearful and to paint the Muslim community with the same broad brush, which is unfair just as it would be unfair for me to think that Poles are largely facist because of the actions of just a segment of the population. Just know that the motivation of the people who make them might not be to protect Poland and it’s people but to stir up unrest in your country for their own reasons. We have the same thing here in America, and it’s happening all over Europe from what I understand. I can’t speak directly to your concerns because I don’t live in your country and would not be speaking from a place of personal knowledge, I can only share my perceptions of the refugee crisis and our reactions to it. Perhaps there are large numbers of young male refugees because they are unmarried and don’t have families to consider and are not young women who are of course encouraged to remain with their parents and not escape to Europe on their own. Young males are just as victimized by the war and violence as women, children and families, and are more likely to leave and try to find a safe place and a fresh start on life somewhere else. I suspect that you, like me, have never lived in a country in the midst of war, so it’s hard for us to understand why someone would leave and not fight but the politics of the region are complex and difficult to understand and the country is ruined right now by this war. I believe that most of the young men who have fled hate ISIS and terrorists as much as you do, having seen first hand their extreme brutality.

        Here is something you might be interested in watching: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/exodus/

        As to your final comment, I would love to visit Poland someday and see it! I have no ill feelings towards your country at all. I am concerned about a rise in nationalist movements all over the world, including in America. I believe we need to try to work together to make the world a better place, not all pull away from one another into our respective countries. I hope for your sake, and the sake of your country and for the displaced peoples of Syria, that there will be an end to the war there and that the refugees will be able to return to their homelands someday, because I cannot imagine being forced to flee my own country under similar circumstances. It would be awful. And I also understand that it is putting a huge strain on the resources of the European countries and I am sorry that my own country has not done more to relieve the suffering because I believe America could and should be doing more. But yes, these are difficult and complex issues and require much thought, prayer and attention to even begin to understand. We can try our best to communicate with one another with respect and a desire for understanding, and hope for peaceful resolutions. Best wishes to you, and again, thanks for your comments.

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