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