October 20, 2012 6:39:58 PM
Nobody wants to hear about your trip, so I shall not tell you about mine. I would, however, like to touch on one aspect of it for the reason you will see.
While in Amsterdam recently, we toured the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family lived for an extended part of World War II. The Nazis were rounding up Jews and sending them to concentration camps for extermination. It is estimated that seven million Jews were killed that way. Anne Frank was one of them.
Prior to being caught, the young teenager and her family hid, in fear and often imposed silence, in an upstairs extension of their family's business building. During that time, Anne wrote a poignant diary documenting their difficulties and personality tensions, but more importantly expressing hope in spite of what she saw happening. It was published posthumously by her father, Otto, the only family member to survive the holocaust.
I am only a little younger than Anne Frank. Years ago I saw the movie about her. Vicariously I felt her fear and anxiety. I dreaded the sound of the police wagons. The fugitives never knew if that sound announced Nazi thugs coming for them. And one day they did. Later, recently, I climbed through the steep, narrow stairways between the tiny rooms where her family hid. It is difficult to imagine what they endured. Snapshots and pictures the young girl had taped to her tan wall brought a lump to my throat. The tour provoked many thoughts.
What makes human beings behave the way the Nazis did? What causes genocide? Was it fear? Were the Jews too capable, too insular, too religious? Were they a danger to non-Jews?
Often throughout history, Jews were isolated from other populations. The word "ghetto" was coined for them. They have been vilified as "murderers of Christ," when actually the Romans did the dirty deed, millennia ago. Why was there a "Jewish problem" at all for Adolph Hitler to try to "solve?" What kind of threat did they pose?
Today most people in this country deplore anti-Semitism, although it is still violent in Palestine against Israel. It seems to me to be not entirely without reason, for the Israelis persist in building settlements on Palestinian territory, but not returning the favor by allowing Palestinians to build freely in Israel. Under such circumstances bad feelings would be inevitable.
Should such feelings extend to the United States because of our alliance with Israel? Is there more to fanatical Islam's hatred of us than that? Make no mistake about it, we non-Islamic nations are targeted by Muslim terrorists no less than the Jews were by the Nazis. There are just more of us in the free world.
It is doubtless an unusual feeling for most of us to be hated simply for what we are. We are "infidels" to a segment of Islam. As such, we are to be converted or destroyed. Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists. Neither were all Germans Nazis. Nevertheless, it is unnerving to contemplate what can happen when evil overwhelms a philosophy or religion. It is also disturbing to be the target of such evil. We Americans generally want to be liked. We are always asking foreign visitors how they like being here. When acts of terror occur, we cry, "Why do they hate us?"
If you, like me, happen to be one of those persons who believe that in order to overcome such evil, we need to hold fast to the ideals and faith that made this country great in the first place, I suggest a book for your reading. "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn is somewhat disturbing and really not very well written; but its thesis is compelling. If its "coincidences" are actually valid, it is frightening. Its protagonist is a fictional writer who has a series of encounters with someone he calls "the Prophet." It is a New York Times best-seller.
My sister, Margaret, gave me a copy when I visited her in Albany, Ga., not long ago. Her friends were currently reading it. When she went into the bookstore to buy a copy for me, she went straight to the place where she had found hers on a shelf filled with copies of it. In a few days' time the shelf had been emptied, sold out. A stock boy found one remaining copy in a back storeroom. She bought the last one for me.
I honestly do not know what I think about it. I do not want to be gullible, and I am too lazy, I guess, to check out every quotation and reference. I would really like to get some feedback from other people. I wish some of you would read it and tell me what you think. How about it? My e-mail is email@example.com. My phone is 662-328-7333.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.
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5. Former U.S. poet laureate to give reading Wednesday ENTERTAINMENT