Last year we posted a haunting lecture by Naomi Wolf about this country’s rapid slide into fascism. I think of that talk often, particularly two things Wolf said: firstly, the phrase “They did this in Germany,” said to her by a German friend who’d witnessed it herself.* As the grandchild of Holocaust escapees,** that sentence is more horrifying than I can explain.
The other thing I often recall is Wolf’s comment that, though she is (was) speaking out, there would come a time when she would be too afraid to do so. That point, she said, is the point at which “people like [her]” — meaning writers and journalists — start getting detained, tortured, and disappeared in the manner that the government already does to alleged “enemy combatants.”
This event is another landmark on the road to fascism. We are now so close to the moment that Wolf described, only the clear gaze of history can reveal whether that line has yet been crossed.
* If I recall correctly.
** I hesitate to use the word “survivors,” because, by many strokes of freakish luck, my relatives managed to get to safe countries alive and without ever seeing the inside of a camp. The fact remains, though, that my maternal grandparents got out more or less by the skin of their teeth, and were profoundly traumatized for their entire lives.
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