Dear Temple Emanu-El, like staring at the Solar Eclipse, this week we are still dealing with the psychological effects of Charlottesville, and the trouble that is to follow. This week’s Kesher Quick writing is the sermon that I gave this past Friday night in synagogue. May this Shabbat be one of peace for us, and for all America. Shabbat shalom
Anderson/Re’eh/8-18-17/ Av 26, 5777/ Temple Emanu-El of Atlanta
Tough week this week…
Shortly after services last Fri night, 1,000 Neo-Nazi White Supremacists marched past the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. They were armed, (for VA is an open carry state), they were prepared for violence with clubs and shields. And they carried torches.
Officially, they were there to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, but their real goal was to show that they were not just an internet movement, but also rather a physical force that was ready to show strength and garner support. The torches, of course, were meant to bring forth images of Klu Klux Klan marches, and the burnings and lynchings that spread like fire.
Their slogans, these young white men, well organized and full of hate, began militaristically with harsh grunts of “Hu! Hu! Hu!” 1000 voices strong, and then morphed into “You will not replace us”, into“Jews will not replace us”, into Whose Streets?-Our Streets, and “Blood & Soil.” “Blood and soil”, as a repeated marching chant, is the translation of Hitler’s Blut und Boden, which means of course, “only Aryan blood belongs on this land.” This night they did not wear masks, but many an American flag with a Nazi swastika superimposed on it was waved, a rallying point for others like them, unabashed saber rattling. The word ‘kike’ and ‘nigger’ were spit out at the counter-protesters like knives. And on Sunday morning, a Neo-Nazi White Supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at 80 MPH, injuring dozens, and murdering a woman named Heather Heyer.
Who were the counter protesters? Blacks. Jews. Asians. Whites. Priests. Imams. Pastors. Rabbis. Senior Citizens. U of V students. Who were the counter protesters? They were Us.
I’m not here tonight to talk about the merits of leaving or destroying symbols of the Confederacy that, for many, have direct memories of enslavement, rape, and unspeakable pain. We Jews know the swastika. You don’t need hateful symbols explained to you because you understand it in your kiskas. I’m not here to talk about the legal permit that the Neo-Nazis had obtained to march, a permit that the counter-protesters did not have. Nor the debate if we need permission/ to protest those/ who would seek our annihilation. I’m not even going to begin the conversation about President Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville, or his claims of equivalency. These topics are worth talking about, but I’m choosing to not talk about them tonight.
What I do want to talk about, and raise in no uncertain terms, is that 1000 Nazis marched through a university town, and they were pleased with everything that went down.
The Speaker for “Unite The Right” is a White Nationalist named Christopher Cantwell, who told a reporter for The Vice that he and his group were there to show that they were more than an internet movement. That they could organize openly in a physical space. When asked if they were a non-violent movement looking to peacefully demonstrate, Cantwell responded, and I quote, “We are not non-violent. We will Fxxxing kill these people if we have to.”
Robert Ray, who runs the Neo Nazi website, The Daily Storm, spoke to the reporter about the reason why 1,000 of them were marching with torches, guns, and Nazi flags. Quote: “We are showing this parasidic class of anti-white vermin that this is our country, built by our forefathers…and it is going to remain our country… today, our people are coming out. Today, we greatly outnumber the anti-White, anti-American filth….We will clear them from the streets, forever. We are starting to slowly unveil our power level. You aint seen nothing yet.” When asked about the intentional hit & run, resulting in the murder of Heather Heyer, spokesman Christopher Cantwell showed no remorse. Zero. He said, “The death of Heather Heyer was justified…and I think that a lot more people are going to die before we are done here.”
My people, this is an outrage. It is appalling. Before our very eyes, what has been scoffed at, laughed at, and excused as “the margins” for the past 40 years has emerged in broad daylight, unmasked, to rally national attention with bullhorns, guns and vitriol dripping from their tongues. My friends, this threat is real.
I am not scared. And if I am honest with myself, I am not surprised. Yes, I am sad that we once again we are fighting battles that we thought were won long ago… I’m sad for our kids, and I’m sad that we have to deal with this. But deal with it we will. We have learned, we Jewish people, what happens when we stay silent in the face of Nazi ideology. Charlottesville is our Kristallnacht. Charlottesville is our Kristallnacht.
The other American minorities, and good people of the majority, know that in Charlottesville/ the line has been crossed. We need to stand up, reach out for allies, and shoulder to shoulder show no daylight. Right now and through the weekend, in temples, churches, mosques and many places of gathering, this message is being preached loud and clear:
Hate has no place in our streets.
Hate has no place in these walls.
And hate has no place in America.
We are not alone. Look around the room. We are as one, and this connection has awoken sleeping people all across our great country, awoken us like a sleeping giant.
הִנֵּֽנִי Heneni: We will be ready… to act as our history, and as our ethics demand that we must.
(Is 62:6)לֹ֣א יֶחֱשׁ֑וּ: We will not be silent… in the face of Anti-Semitism, racism, and evil.
לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ We will not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor, nor will we stand/ for our own blood to be shed.
Torah empowers us for times like these with the words Chazak Chazak V’NitChazak. Be strong. Be strong. And through one another, be strengthened.