Fair warning, friends. I have a new standard for letting non-Jewish people in my life, and it’s called “Would you hide me?”
It goes like this: Would you hide me? If your answer isn’t obviously and immediately yes, you’re not allowed in my life.
(from Max Goldberg’s “I’m Jewish. Would you hide me?”)
I grew up with stories of my grandmother’s time in hiding in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, starting in abstract terms when I was little, and getting more concrete as my brother and I grew older. When we read The Diary of Anne Frank in high school, it was a familiar story because my grandmother had lived it. Anne didn’t make it out, and neither did my great-grandfather.
Still, in all of this, I never had a sense it would happen to me. The most negative experience I’ve had for being ethnically Jewish is people using “Jew” as a pejorative adjective (meaning “stingy”) or verb (meaning “cheat someone out of their money”) and making bad Holocaust jokes. I grew up in the suburbs of San Jose, CA. I admit I was and still am rather naïve in many ways.
Goldberg lives in California too, and he’s listed out the racism he experienced in just November 2016. Even now I still haven’t had any of that directed at me, very little even near me, living in San Francisco.
Goldberg’s question is “Would you hide me?”. I realized recently mine’s always been “Will I hide you?” I grew up upper-middle class; it wasn’t going to happen to me, in California, but it might damn well happen to someone else I care about. Or even someone I don’t directly care about.
Literally on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Donald Trump has signed an order blocking citizens of several majority-Muslim countries from entering the US, including US permanent residents. It also cuts off Syrian refugees entirely—people trying to escape a war. This comes after we hear about plans to publish a weekly report of “crimes committed by immigrants”, something that was literally done in the early days of Nazi Germany against Jews. And this comes on the heels of national immigration police investigating a community center in San Francisco.
Will I hide you? There really isn’t a question. I have to say yes. And I don’t think it’s exaggeration to think we’re on the way to that point.
But if I’m willing to do that, what should I be doing now?