I’ve procrastinated writing this. Ran errands, run laundry, scooped out the cat box. Anything to avoid sitting down and writing a post about Charlottesville. But the errands are all done, the laundry is folded and put away, and the cats don’t look at me as much in disdain before doing their business. So here we are then.
When I talk about how this all started, I mention the incident at Dragon*Con in 2008. Which is technically true, but in reality started much earlier in my life.
This young man was my father, in approximately 1942 or 1943. This picture was taken not long after he was sent to Europe, right before the start of his senior year at Texas A&M, when it was all-ROTC. During the course of his service, he earned a Bronze Star and was rated as an expert marksman.
It was not long after he arrived in Europe that his commanders realized he had another unique talent. You see, my father was first-generation Ukrainian Jewish immigrant and was fluent in Yiddish because that was the only language spoken in his house until he was well into his teens. Yiddish and German are closely enough related that a conversation can be carried on, but it is immediately apparent who is speaking which language.
At the end of the war, my father’s battalion was stationed at Stuttgart, one of the main industrial cities in Germany, and my father was tasked with getting the city rebuilt. This meant he had to talk to a large number of civilians in the city to get things rolling. It was pretty obvious to city officials that the young American Army officer helping to rebuild the city was Jewish. It was equally obvious to my father that those officials did not want to deal with him, but had no other choice. But he did his job, even though it meant looking in the faces of people who, were the situations reversed, would have sent him off to be killed.
When I talk about where my commitment for this started, I now realize it started with my dad. For all that he was utterly mystified by the introverted girl who loved “that weird sci-fi stuff” that he had brought into this world, he taught me never to start a fight, but damn well finish it if that was what it took. And if that meant protecting your friends, well, that’s just what you did.
People talk a lot these days about punching Nazis, in reference to the iconic image of Captain America punching Adolf Hitler. But I really think that there’s another way of looking at this. There was no debate about who started it or whether or not “both sides” were to blame for my father. There was a job to be done, and you just did it.
We know there are things we will not allow. We stand against them. And if the other side swings first, we stop them. We protect those who need it. In whatever way we can.
Or, as Cap would also say: No, you move.