“The Holocaust didn’t happen overnight”

LZ Granderson wrote a poignant piece today at CNN.com about the growing backlash against Russia over its crackdown on its gay and trans citizens.

olympic-handcuffs-ken-kidd

In the piece, Granderson takes on the issue of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany in a novel way.  He tells the story of two Jewish US Olympic athletes, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, who were set to compete at those Games.  At the last minute, they were pulled from the race by the US Olympic Committee.

Here’s more on what happened from JewishSightseeing.com:

The printed narrative in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibit on the 1936 Olympics, now on display at San Diego’s Hall of Champions, reports that the two sprinters were pulled from the team the day before the relay race. That was the same morning that he and Stoller had been scheduled to run a trial heat.

“Why did they wait till that morning, that day, to tell us that we were not going to run? Because they knew there was going to be some furor about it, some objection about it,” Glickman said. “If they did it earlier, they might be forced to make a change, but they did it that morning.”The only people on that team who didn’t get to compete were Sam and me,” Glickman added. “In the entire 100 year history of the Olympics, no other fit American athlete who was on the team — I don’t mean those who pulled muscles — has ever not competed in the games.”

I never knew any of this.

Granderson then segues into the larger issue of what it means to be holding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia:

In talking about the 1936 Olympics, I do not equate what is happening in Russia to what happened to Jewish people during World War II. I just want to remind you that the Holocaust did not happen overnight. It was subtle.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site. Reports from Russia suggest the boy may now be dead.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site. Reports from Russia suggest the boy may now be dead.

Surgical.

In silence.

These new anti-gay laws are disturbingly similar to the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws Hitler passed before the 1936 Olympics. And with the Pew Institute finding 84% of Russians believe society should reject gay people, perhaps some saying they object to gays for fear of arrest, the world should question how far Russia intends to go.

We should question how far Russia, our lukewarm ally, intends to go and what our participation in the 2014 Olympic Games will look like generations from now.

That’s the thing with Nazi comparisons.  They’re often made frivolously, and incorrectly.  But they’re not always wrong.  They can’t always be wrong.

After all, if the Holocaust was such a unique event in human history that nothing again can ever compare, then there’s nothing to worry about. It can’t happen again.  And I’ve always believed that one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that it can happen again.  Why?  Because of another lesson of the Holocaust: that men don’t need to be exceptional in order to do evil.  The potential for evil resides in all of us, and all societies.

MOSCOW - MAY 28: Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (kojoku / Shutterstock.com)

MOSCOW – MAY 28: Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (kojoku / Shutterstock.com)

When people say “never again” about the Holocaust, it doesn’t mean “it can’t ever happen again,” but rather, “we won’t let it happen again.”

And while most Nazi Germany analogies are flawed, one of these days we’re going to sadly get one right.  Let’s do our best to ensure that this one isn’t it.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

© 2018 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS