Reading time – 4:12; Viewing time – 6:53  .  .  .

My mother was a teen during the Great Depression and came of age during WW II. She was from that generation. Tom Brokaw dubbed it The Greatest Generation and the label stuck, this for obvious reasons.

This was a generation without a sense of entitlement, who followed the rules and simply did what needed to be done, regardless of the risks and hardships. And one of the things that needed to be done was to stop Adolph Hitler from brutalizing  and enslaving the entire world.

From the late 1940s through early 60s the world repeatedly came face-to-face with the indescribable evil of the Holocaust, as Nazis were found and prosecuted. Most notorious was Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ “final solution.” The death camps were factories of his design, created to manipulate prisoners so the Nazis’ mechanized murdering would be efficient. Efficiency was a proud trait of the Germans, so they put a sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the murder center in Poland where 1.1 million people were gassed and cremated. That sign still stands and you can see it in the picture on the left.

The words translate roughly to “Work makes you free,” suggesting an entirely false and cruel promise for the future, if prisoners would work hard. Both the manipulation and the death were complete.

I recall with frightening clarity a conversation I had with my parents when I was an idealistic teen about those death camp horrors. I was raised in red, white and blue America, land of the free and home of the brave, so I said of the Holocaust, “It’s so good that that could never happen here.”

My mother gave a start and said (and this is word for word), “Oh yes it could. You better watch out.”

I had no idea how she could have said that. I mean this was the country of people wearing the white hats, who are forever the good guys. This is the country that fought and bled and died to kill that hate monster. This is the country of my dad, who, like millions of others, risked his life over and over so we would be free.

Yet now we have a president who proudly tells us that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, one side of which was composed of white supremacist Nazis. We have a never ending parade of angry citizens carrying assault rifles to intimidate our people over any and every imagined grievance. And we have protesters who want our entire economy “opened up,” regardless of the mortal consequences to tens of millions of us.

If she’s protesting the lockdown, why is she wearing a protective face mask? Where is the courage of her convictions?

They’re carrying Nazi flags and declaring how aggrieved they are, this to justify their demands and their hate. The president continues to tell us what good people they are, these swastika brandishing thugs. And not even a single Republican in Congress has the courage or decency to stand up and declare the obvious evil and hate these people are spewing.

There was an “anti-lockdown” protest in Chicago last weekend. It was clearly a temper tantrum aimed at those in government and the dedicated scientists who are working to keep us safe from coronavirus. One woman at that rally carried the sign you see to the right displaying the very words of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. Her bottomlessly sad and incongruous companion piece is that her coronavirus face mask is a U.S. flag.

Another Chicago lockdown protester with her hate on display.

The “JB” on that woman’s sign refers to J.B. Pritzker, Governor of Illinois. He’s Jewish. I’m thinking that her true message, as for that of the woman in the picture to the left who was at that same protest, has nothing to do with the lockdown and has everything to do with their hatred.

That first woman was asked about her sign and she invoked the “Some of my friends are Jewish” defense, as though that would fully relieve her of responsibility for the vileness of her bigotry. It doesn’t. In fact, that claim is proof positive of her hatred, as she carries a replica of the evil, hateful sign at the entrance to Auschwitz. And the President tells us she’s one of the “good people.”

Don’t lull yourself into passivity, thinking these are just fools carrying signs. It’s what is in their hearts that matters and we can be confident that they, along with the self-important militias all around the country and the online hate spewers and the Nazi wannabees in their brown shirt costumes and the people who assaulted the Michigan State Capitol building with weapons of war strapped to them as they shouted their hate – all of them long for a totalitarian state aligned with their bigotry.

That’s the way genocide starts – every time, everywhere. In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.

It turns out that Mom was right. And I’m following her clear direction: I’m watching out.



New projections are in, as two events are happening simultaneously.

The first is that the number of deaths from coronavirus are heading sharply upward. The experts (epidemiologists, not blathering, know-nothing politicians, economists or law professors) tell us that by June 1 over 3,000 Americans will die every day from this disease (a daily 9/11; a Vietnam every 2 months)) and there may eventually be hundreds of thousands of us dead, all things being equal. But all things aren’t equal, because at the same time as death counts are skyrocketing, the second event is happening.

At the direction of the President, states are incrementally “opening up,” meaning that more people are being allowed to open their businesses. Employees are going back to work and generally lots of us will be exposed to far more people, some of whom are undoubtedly asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus who will unknowingly infect many others. Maybe you.

So, while there is still a moment, I say au revoir to those who are in the coronavirus death bulls eye. Perhaps we knew one another – ’twas great; perhaps we didn’t. What’s for sure is that now we know that we won’t ever meet. One of us will have disappeared permanently. Maybe both of us.

And a large percentage of those who will die long before their time was due will depart thanks to politicians deciding that money and their elections are more important than your life. Too bad for you. And me.

Program note: Look for an explanation on Sunday, May 10 for why we don’t do the testing that is mandatory in order to beat this disease.


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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7 Responses to Mom

    I share with you your distress on what is happening in this country and your disgust with the political leaders who, to keep their grip on power, not only condone but encourage the racism and hatred of anyone or anything that does not conform to their notion of what America is or should be.

    While I agree with the substance of your statement, “In other words, we have the seeds of a holocaust right here in America right now.”, I would postulate that the seeds of a holocaust – racism, bigotry and the hatred of the other – were planted a long time ago and have long past become part of our national ethos. Some of those seeds were planted by our founding fathers who elevated property rights over human rights and then codified into our Constitution the right of a human being to own another human being. Over the years the seeds of racism, bigotry and intolerance have been watered with the blood of slaves, the deaths of millions of Native Americans, the lynching of thousands of blacks, a fascist Jim Crow system and most recently the caging of immigrant children. Racism, bigotry and hatred of the other has always been part of the fabric of this country and has frequently infected various levels of governance. This is our history whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

    So, we should not be so shocked as we try to look into this country’s future and the word dystopian keeps flashing in our minds like a huge red neon sign. We have been here before. In the past many millions of Americans have lived and suffered through what we fear will be our future tomorrow. A dehumanized society governed by intolerant, bigoted fascists.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Sadly, Ron, you have your facts right.

      Thanks for your comments.

  2. Pascal Reply

    Dear Jack,
    Amy forwarded me your post.
    I feel so sad that your mom was right.
    From this side of the pond, it feels like freedom of speech is a weapon in the hands of uneducated persons.
    Trump’s inconsistency is costing lives (global warming denial, reopening the country now).
    I remember the nightmare it was in 2016 when I read the headlines and Amy’s message that Trump was elected as 45th president.
    He can’t be reelected !
    Thank you very much for sharing this.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Great to hear from you – and thanks so much for reading and sharing.

      You’re exactly right in your comments. There is so much suffering around the world due to sickness, worry over security, angst over climate warming and so much more, none of which had to be this acute. And the young people are going to have to live a long time with the mess being made right now.

      Please subscribe – it’s free – and offer your comments to help us all see your perspective. My post on Sunday is about why we aren’t doing extensive COVID-19 testing. The reasons are infuriatingly foolish and selfish.

  3. Joni Lindgren Reply

    It’s obvious that this Admin. has undertones of Nazism! Problem with the haters and those who hide behind their big-boy rifles, masks and signs they carry is that not one of them knows the signs that are characteristics of the Nazi regime or of Hitler and his goal. They are either too young or probably didn’t pay attention to that part of world history in their classes! I can’t believe these people are willing to follow an idiot who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them!!!

    I didn’t know Prtizker was Jewish! See? I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. I totally respect Pritzker! I think he is doing a wonderful job for the State of Illinois! On the issue of the virus, he is listening to the scientists and the epidemiologists for his facts!! I am proud I went door-to-door for him.

    I first met him at the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. He just walked In the door and you thought you had known him for years. The one thing I was most impressed with was that he was talking to a woman in the front row and I immediately perked up when he talked about Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton, heir to a large number of department stores across the country. If you know what Dayton did for his state, and I was well-versed in Dayton’s plan for getting his state up and running again after the 2007-08 recession, then you have to know that Pritzker liked what he saw that Dayton did and he planned to do the same . . . and he HAS!!

    As a side note, my representative in Springfield was a Republican. I kept close watch on him and even attended his every 60 days “fireside chats” in the basement of his office in downtown Geneva. Maybe his name will ring a bell, it’s Rep. Steven Andersson. He was the one who defied former Gov. Rauner after Rauner had tried to destroy unions, destroy public education and higher education by defunding them.

    Steven had had enough and he got 13 other Republicans to vote against Rauner’s shut-down of the state’s programs. Steve knew school wouldn’t start in the fall if he and 13 other Republicans didn’t vote against Rauner. They did and the budget bill passed!! Rauner took Steve’s leadership position away from him and that was when he quit his Representative position.

    Steve treated 15 people to a dinner in Geneva and when we said our good-byes, I whispered to him that he should call Pritzker and tell him what he could do for his Administration. To that he said, “After what I just did”? and I said, “You would be the perfect candidate for him for what you did”. Steve is now working for Pritzker’s Admin. in a department that is in Steve’s expertise. Steve is an elder lawyer and cares about people. Was the position Human Resources? I can’t remember.

  4. Anastasia Gonzalez Reply

    Great article!!!

    I have always been a believer in the saying, “Mother knows best”. and your mother was right.
    We should never take anything for granted or ASSUME anything. This all is so frightening I keep wanting to pinch myself to wake up!

    For now I believe most of us have become conditioned to staying home and in isolation to help stop the spread of this virus. The opening up of things too soon I fear is going to prolong that and sadly raise the numbers. We are in hell. Your wise mother was right!

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Mom was just another imperfect human being and was wrong her share of the time, but she got this one right.