Thursday, November 10, 2016

Do Not Stand Silent

Today, besides being the 51st anniversary of my mother leaving this Earth, is also the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht - November 9 and 10, 1938.

Today is not your moment of nature.  Instead, we need to reflect on this night, and others like it.

During the night of November 9 and daytime of November 10, 1938, at least 91 Jews were killed and some 7,500 Jewish owned businesses vandalized or destroyed in Germany and Austria.  Some 267 Jewish houses of worship (synagogues) were damaged or destroyed.

On some days during this particular Presidential election season, it seemed that hate oozed from every dark corner of this country.  Those dark corners came alive. People of hate are now encouraged, thinking that finally, the conditions are right once again for their hate to blossom.  It isn't just Jewish people at risk. Make no mistake. 

Have you ever thought about what happens when hate becomes accepted, and public? How about here in Binghamton, New York, a small city in upstate New York?

 You don't need to look too far, because it happened almost 100 years ago.

This looks like an ordinary cross, doesn't it?  It's not.

Do you think that hate was never out in the open in our great country?  History tells us it was.   Parts of our history (not just the history of Kristallnacht or genocides during the 20th and 21st century) remind us of what we may be facing again today.  One such example is an organization I do not even wish to name completely.  I will simply refer to it as the Klan.

I would be willing to bet you know at least one person who belongs to ethnic or religious groups that the Klan would rather not have in this country.  It's as simple as that.

This organization exists today, still trying to spread its message of hate.  At one time, it was a lot bigger, and people openly boasted of their membership.  It could happen again if we stand silent.  There are other such groups, too.

Did you know that the Klan had a complicated relationship with the area around Binghamton, New York, an area which is my adopted hometown?  We think of the Klan as an organization whose strongholds were in the South, but, for a time, that was not true.

In the 1920's, many people were afraid, just as they are today.  In our area, they were fearful of a rapid increase in immigration. People were afraid of losing jobs, of losing power, of losing things important to them.  The Klan had a presence in our "Twin Tiers" through the 20's and 30's.

These pictures were taken at an exhibit at the Bundy Museum in Binghamton, which will be running until November 29.


This is a "heroic" recruitment posters.  At one time, in fact, the New York headquarters of this hate organization was located in Binghamton.

This is a letter on official letterhead boasting of their existence, and asking that someone write away for recruitment material.  Today, someone would contact them via social media or their website.  They are active on both.
This organization came complete with a secret language and even songs.  (I looked for this on You Tube, but the video postings are all from members of this organization.  I will not link to them.)
For some reason this picture kept posting sidewise - on the bottom is a Klan business card.
Wall near where the Klan temple was located, Binghamton, New York
You may be wondering about that cross at the beginning of my post.   That cross was once part of the Klan temple at the corner of Henry and Wall Street in Binghamton.  And, in a great irony (or perhaps intentional), that area of Binghamton now holds a monument in honor of the late, great, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also on display was a newsletter of this organization, published in 1924. It talked about what would happen if the Catholics took over the United States.  I was young, but I can remember how John F. Kennedy, running for President in 1960, had to fight anti-Catholic feelings.  There was also an advertisement page, and ads were plentiful, including for a printer of invites to weddings and other special occasions.

The fight against hate never ends.

Keep that in mind, always.

Do not stand silent when hate shows up in our country.  If necessary, think of it as acting in self-interest.  Perhaps your ancesters were not the targets on Kristallnacht.  Perhaps you feel you are not the target today.

You can always become the target tomorrow.

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo.

14 comments:

  1. I still do not understand how my good friend who is Jewish voted for Trump. Because he didn't like Obama as he said? Makes no sense.

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  2. This election has afforded those who had sublimated their hate (which many consider a form of political correctness) to bring it to the fore. I fear the next few years, if this bigotry and xenophobia is not curbed.

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  3. I'm sorry about today, this horrible day in all senses, being the anniversary of your mother's death. I can't imagine having "lost"my mother so young.
    As to the rest, I agree completely.

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  4. First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    Martin Niemoller

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  5. At one time or another, no matter what your ethnicity, your people have been a target. Irish and dogs need not apply.
    Hopefully we will continue to learn and continue to work hard at not repeating history. Very informative post.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this history; I believe it is important to pass this knowledge to the next generation so it is not forgotten. I also remember the 1960 election, even though I was a child.

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  7. You are right, we shouldn't be silent when hate becomes public. Never knew about the history you mentioned.

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  8. I am sure your mother is still with you. The election of Trump came as a jolt and yes, sad that there is so much hatred against everyone in this land of opportunity. True, we should all stand up against such injustice and hatred. I read about Ku Klux Klan in a book and the history you shared is very helpful.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this piece of history. I also believe that the fight against hate never ends.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this. It is sad that there is a lot of hate being spread lately. Thanks for sharing the history. That is crazy! Let's hope that things get better!

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  11. I will not stand silent. Hate does not get a pass. It will not win. We are all Americans. And we all have a right to be visible and heard.

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  12. Hate is never correct, in any form. Whether it's in the horrific form of the holocaust, the current genocide of Christians in many parts of the world, murder of the unborn, racial discrimination - none of it is right, and so sad that it even exists.

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