Today is the day that the international community determined would commemorate one of the biggest stains of our recent history: the Holocaust. Some three quarters of a century later the wounds of the Holocaust are still everywhere, from the museums that educate to the survivors who lament. The rallying cry is ever-loud and powerful, as well it should be: NEVER AGAIN!
Yet today, as I look around, the cry seems a formality only. So much is happening in the world right now that is scary, worrying, and even downright wrong. Sometimes I wonder whether the people who lived in the mid and late 1930s could tell what was about to happen. I wonder how we would even know if those situations were rising again. To me, never again is a comforting slogan, but not much else.
I ask myself, what has the world actually learned as a result of WWII? When we say never again, what and who is encompassed in that promise? Have we done things differently in the last several decades? Has anyone learned anything at all? I’m not sure.Here’s why I think we have not learned anything from the terrible events of the Holocaust:
- Jews are still vilified and hated in many parts of the world. This is a sad reality and one that many Muslims will deny, but it comes about as a result of hate-mongering, lack of information and political agendas.
- Muslims are facing an increasingly ugly rhetoric in the U.S. which includes hate crimes in unprecedented levels.
- Children perceived as Muslim (including Sikhs, Indians and other brown races) are facing bullying, exclusion and so much more not only from students but teachers and administrators as well.
- Europe is seeing political upheavals against the veil, migrants and anyone/anything else perceived as “the other”.
- Refugees are facing eerily similar situations to the Jews fleeing Nazis in WWII. We see the same haunted expressions, hear the same stories of bloodshed. But we fail to see their humanity.
- We talk about closing our borders with Mexico and turning away children fleeing gangs, drug lords and other heinous criminals.
- We pretend that our African American community is not suffering the most terrible injustices in recent history. As long as our laws say we are equal we pretend that we truly are.
- We sell arms and bombs and fighter jets to nations without caring that they are using those weapons to kill innocent people. We fly killer drones over unsuspecting children in third world countries, willing to snatch their freedom to protect ours.
- We turn a blind eye to Israeli occupation, allowing Jewish zealots to imprison their Palestinian brothers and sisters with our tax dollars.
- We turn a blind eye to Muslim countries with the most horrific human rights abuses, all because they are our allies. We defend dictatorships and theocratic governments and even sometimes terrorists as long as our own comforts are not in danger.
The list is heartbreakingly long and very sobering. Sometimes we see the positive things happening around us and we feel safe, feel assured that we have come a long way from the time that our neighbors, classmates and friends were hauled off on trains to gas chambers. It is so easy to forget, so easy to turn a blind eye. And most of all, it is difficult to accept what we all are complicit in.
So please, I beg you, let’s not cry never again until we all individually and collectively take steps to really ensure that anything even one-tenth as horrible doesn’t happen again. Because until then, those words are empty promises to the ears of the Syrians, the Rohingya, the Palestinians, the incarcerated black men, and so many more who are dreading what’s the future holds. As a Muslim American, I don’t want to just say never again, I want to be assured that someone won’t come for me or my children in the middle of the night, that my future president won’t try to kick me out of my home, my country. Let’s actually do something to make sure that never again becomes a reality. Inshallah, God willing.
Saadia Faruqi is an interfaith activist, law enforcement trainer and author of the book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. Visit her website at www.saadiafaruqi.com or follow her on Twitter @saadiafaruqi