I think when a lot of folks think about the Holocaust, they envision concentration camps and Anne Frank’s attic and yellow stars. The most horrific genocide of the first half of the 20th century, packaged into text books and documentaries. Yes, I’m cynical about remembrance. So sue me. On Remembrance Day in November during the two minute silence, I’m constantly frustrated. I wonder why we are staying silent when we should be shouting and crying. Of course I understand the importance of respect. But all too often people walk away after candlelit vigils and silences and forget, too easily, why we were there in the first place.
Here’s the thing about the Holocaust: it’s not over. It was never a contained event. It’s an ideology that permeates the minds of far-right and fascist groups and political organisations in a manner as slow and deadly as gas. It’s happening now, in the form of rampant Islamaphobia, ethnic cleansing, corrective rape, gay bashing, cartoon strips, what our newspapers don’t or won’t report. The English Defence League, the devastation in Darfur. The Holocaust isn’t over.
I wanted to write this so I won’t forget, so that I won’t make the mistake of so many and push the Holocaust into an abstracted form of history, something past, something irrelevant, something solved. It’s days like today which puts fire into the stomachs of liberation campaigners, because our unity fights against the division which genocide seeks to effect. Our differences as queers, women, ethnic folk, religious folk, people with disabilities and people of political minds are glorious and messy and make the world better. Our differences don’t divide, they unite. We work against the holocaust of the everyday. We say, this will not happen again.
Today I will not just be thinking of the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust of 1939-1945. I’ll be thinking also of the millions of gay people forced to wear the pink triangle, the Poles, and everyone else who died under Hitler’s regime. I’ll be thinking of the millions of displaced and traumatised people in Cambodia, Iraq, the Sudan, Darfur. I’ll be thinking of how to best remember these people, and how best to honour them. I think the best way is to ensure that we’ll never again have to remember or honour these kind of victims. Not in our generation. Or the next, or ever.
This video says it, really. I was proud to be part of it.