Nearly 80 years after Kristallnacht, hatred must end

At around 3 a.m. on Nov. 9, a man who has denounced Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, women and the disabled became our president-elect. We all know his name – I refuse to write it here.

His campaign has incited hate and violence and insurmountable ignorance, like none I have ever witnessed before.

His hateful rhetoric has even spread, much like a disease, to our safe little haven of Burlington. Students found our president-elect’s campaign poster vandalized with a swastika.

A swastika, a universal sign of hatred, one which conjures up heinous images and stories of the Holocaust and of Hitler’s Germany.

This evening Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, shared that she will only work with the president-elect if he offers respect for human beings.

Our president to be has opened a Pandora’s box of intolerance and prejudice. It seems as though this election has allowed people to once again let their inner bigotries be publicly known, as if it were the early 1900’s.

Hillel reached out via email to assuage our fears, saying “visible signs of hatred are unacceptable.”

Tonight, Nov. 9, marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938. Not so long ago. This was a night in which German synagogues, schools and business were broken and burned to the ground. It is also a night in which 100 Jews were killed for just being Jews.

My parents always warned me, much to my distaste, that when things go awry, Jews are always the first ones to be targeted.

Though the results are in and the people have spoken, I still believe that love trumps hate. I still believe America can be the land in which diversity makes us stronger. I still believe there is a place here for every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual identity and gender.

As I stood at the vigil tonight, I saw a crowd of progressive individuals huddled together in the cold night air with candles. They mourned the loss of a proper democracy, their rights and of sheer presidential decency. Some feared for their families, others for their religious freedom. Minorities wondered if they would ever truly have a place in our president-elect’s nation. But alongside that concern, I saw hope.

As I paraded the house with an heir of depression and defeat, I was reminded, by someone close to me, of the brave words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

So today we grieve, we hold vigils, we express our disbelief, we scream and we cry. But tomorrow, when we get out of bed and our feet hit the ground, we stand up for our rights and continue to hold the highest of standards for our government.

Today, this week, this month, and maybe the next four years will be a time of great change, and intense emotionality, and I ask you to be gentle on yourself and keep your faith in democracy high.