While many have weighed in on the racist xenophobia spewed by Donald Trump’s call for registering American Muslims and keeping Muslim visitors and refugees out of our country we know as the land of the free and the home of the brave, we must also face the very scary question of what each and every American would do if this very dangerous fascist actually became the President of the United States.
At times like these, each of us must decide whether we will allow racism and xenophobia to divide friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, or whether we will choose to fight back and unite against fascism.
Recently, Israel honored a non-Jewish American soldier for his bravery in saving other Jewish prisoners during World War 2. As reported by the Jerusalem Post:
An American non-commissioned officer who defied the Nazis while in captivity by refusing to identify Jewish POWs was posthumously honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem on Wednesday.
The title, granted after extensive research and corroboration, is intended to honor those who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
Captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds of the US 422nd Infantry Regiment was the senior officer in the American section of the Stalag IXA prisoner of war camp.
When Nazi guards demanded all Jewish prisoners report the following morning, in a move reminiscent of the movie Spartacus, Edmonds instructed all soldier inmates in the camp to show up alongside their Jewish comrades.
When camp commandant Major Siegmann saw the entire American contingent standing and identifying as Jews he exclaimed, “they cannot all be Jews,” and Edmonds replied, “we are all Jews.”
Siegmann then drew his pistol on Edmonds, who coolly responded that “according to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.”
Outfaced by Edmonds, the commandant turned and walked away.
Edmonds was not Jewish. But to combat the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people, he declared himself and all of his fellow soldiers Jewish.
I am not Muslim, but if Trump is elected as the next President of the United States and he starts registering American Muslims, I will do as Sgt. Edmonds did. I will stand with my Muslim friends, neighbors and fellow Americans, and declare myself to be Muslim.
Our country will not become safer through hate and xenophobia. It will become safer by expanding the compassion footprint as the wise Muslim author Dahlia Mogahed co-author of, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, speaks about. When I heard her speak in Madison some time ago, she explained that just like global warming cannot be stopped merely by each of us taking small actions, but indeed, requires systemic reform of the way we produce power and energy in our world, the social ills of our world, cannot be completely solved by small individual acts of compassion. However, this does not render those acts of compassion useless or unnecessary. Rather, those individual acts of compassion can help build a movement to demand systemic change in the way our society approaches social ills such as poverty, inadequate education and discrimination.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.