by Melanie Nathan, November 24, 2011
I am Not Thankful if I am not Me!
It is easy to be thankful if I am simply me! But what if I allow myself to be someone else – for just a short while? My head spun this week with images and my thoughts were provoked by my visit to our nation’s capital.
This Thanksgiving week:-
I witnessed Republican presidential hopefuls debating a promise to fortify their sinister Patriot Act, to callously separate families in the name of immigration policy. This week I heard the crushing denial of the natural order of my sexual orientation by those who refuse the science. Am I thankful?
This week after I visited Truro Church, the Heritage Foundation , The Family Research Council and the 133 C Street Family, I sought refuge in the Holocaust Museum, located in ironic proximity the latter organizations which foster propaganda, scapegoating and stereotyping.
This week is the week of Thanksgiving and when I entered the building that screams “never again” this thanksgiving I refuse to be me!
I am Grietje Polak, a Dutch Jew. And with this name came an identity, a life – which I lived for two short hours – in a museum on the day before Thanksgiving, 2011, in the USA. I was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to a large Jewish family and we lovingly observed the Sabbath. I married Frederick Polak, an accountant and we had three daughters, Julia, Betty and Liesje and also a son, Jacob. I died in Sorbibor extermination camp in July 1943. No healthcare could have saved me, no job could have paid my way out – I was there because of hate sold to multitudes through propaganda and that is why I died.
Today Melanie Nathan carries my name.[i] She may cry, shudder as the elevator meets that floor – the one that attempts to yield the horror of my last ride; but she will never know my pain. I am dead, unable to give thanks for the momentary memory. Perhaps all I can impart is that which you all promised in my name and the other 5,999,999 – “never again?”
Indeed I found a sinister parallel in the Holocaust museum today – are we watching a new genocide before our very eyes? I reflect on Uganda and the American connection to the insidious “Kill the Gays Bill.” We are watching, here on the sideline, as it is about to pass into law in Uganda. A government is providing a license to kill; based on a natural orientation? It is exactly the same as legalizing an extermination – to kill someone for being a Jew or to attach a death penalty to skin color! There is no difference.
I think about all my brothers, my sisters and my gender neutral siblings – in Africa who are targets this very day – and am I supposed to be thankful “as me?”
I wonder “How dare I be only me in THIS World and how dare I give thanks?”
Today I was reminded that I am living in a world surrounded by the very propaganda to which we say “never again” – the very propaganda that serves as the underbelly for the justification of genocide; propaganda, the biased information purposely spread to shape public opinion and behavior – for if it starts in one country it is certain to spread to others.
Its power depends on the message, the technique, the means of communication and the audience receptivity. Propaganda uses truths, half truths and lies. It omits information selectively, simplifies complex issues or ideas, plays on emotions, it attacks opponents and targets desired audience.
Today giving thanks is nothing but a selfish reflection on self. Put yourself in the shoes of the oppressed and think of their fully empty glass and tell the world you are not grateful – you are not thankful – be someone else!
For as long as genocide sits on the edge of our existence – there is no thanks – there is only a call to action.
So no thanks! I am not Melanie Nathan – I am you!
By the way:– If you were thinking of spending any money on Black Friday I suggest change the meaning of Black Friday and send your money to an organization that helps LGBT refuges escape the horror of the impending genocide, that fights the religious right and their despicable propaganda.
Photos and Article – ©Melanie Nathan 2011– All rights reserved:- Permission granted to use with Full accreditation and link back to this page.