I have been looking for time to put down my thoughts. This will not be a cohesive essay. Rather, I am just going to share some images and impressions I took away from my visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.
Walking through some of the exhibits, it felt wrong to be alone. Or, rather, it felt wrong to stay alone. So many people were all around, and it seemed like the torturous scenes before us should have drawn us together. Instead, we gave each other space. No one reached out, even to offer a tissue, when I stopped to cry in a corner. It strikes me, now, that this "space" we give others is part of how the Holocaust was allowed to happen in the first place. "Not me. Not my problem. Not my business."
My hands seemed to think I was Catholic when I approached some displays. They moved, of their own accord, toward the sign of the cross. I had to still them, feeling silly, since it is not my sign to make. Is it? Is there some Methodist equivalent or am I allowed to use the sign of the cross, even as a non-Catholic (Elizabeth Esther, chime in here, please.)? I suppose, the reason for this is simple; my body wanted to respond. I ached to show respect and honor to those who actually experienced the horror I was only being told about.
I was the only one in our group to reach out and touch the Mezuzah as I walked by it. I suppose most of the people there simply did not know what it was? As I touched it, I heard the teenage girls behind me, giggling. How can anyone GIGGLE in that place? My insides roiled. I wanted to grab them by the hair. Strange. I am not typically a violent person. What a location to learn that violence can live inside even MY heart.
The Propaganda used by the Nazi party is hardly any different from either American party. As I watched their plan unfold, I felt fear go right through my spine. How ripe America is for just such a party. Persuasive and charismatic, speaking to American Pride. As I watch our country learn hatred toward immigrants (completely forgetting how we immigrated and destroyed the Nations of people already here), I can see it getting even uglier. Our version of the Holocaust would start by speaking of humane treatment. It might look like the detention centers we held Asians in before and during WWII. The worst of the conservative party would start with attacking Muslims. September 11th would be dishonored and used as nothing more than propaganda. Muslims and "illegal" immigrants would be first. Then, like the Germans, we would have rules for what made someone American and others would be picked up and shipped away. What color triangle would I wear on my jacket? A pink one, because my church accepts homosexuals? A purple one, because my grandmother and her entire family were Jehovah's Witnesses? A black triangle, because my stepmother is a black woman? Who knows. Eventually it would come back to the Jews. It always does. God chose them, and they will feel the curse of persecution forever in His name.
Leaving, kneeling on cold marble before a candle burning in the ashes of concentration camps, I wondered why I had seen no one else forced to their knees by the sheer weight of that place. There was so much I had to walk away from. I felt bile rising in my throat and my knees growing weaker with each step. I slid into a corner to whisper the Lord's Prayer and rock myself like a baby (understanding why Jews rock when they pray). But no one near me fainted or vomited or even cried out in anguish.
Like I said, I see how it can happen. I will never believe I am immune, or that America is safe from such madness. Lucifer walked in the shoes of Hitler, and he can just as easily walk again.