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WENDY ELLIOTT: All humans deserve respect

Wendy Elliott. File
Wendy Elliott. File - SaltWire Network
WOLFVILLE, N.S. —

There were signs as early as 1935 in our very own Hants Journal that fascism was building toward a world war in Europe.

That was the year that readers learned that loyalty to Hitler apparently extended to every branch of human relationships, in the view of public officials of Germany. When a Berlin woman made insulting remarks about Hitler to her husband, he sued for divorce and the German Supreme Court held that such comments were sufficient grounds for divorce. Just another illustration of what a dictatorship means, the writer opined.

As early as 1936, women in Germany were being trained to play an important role in the next war, which experts said would have no non-combatants. Making bullets in factories and acting as air raid wardens kept women pretty busy.

In 1938, Rotary Clubs were dissolved by the Italian government. I guess Rotarians were suspect because they believe in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

The same year there was a report of 800 to 1,000 Jewish children being sent to France. Of course, we know now that Hitler despised Jewish people and lodged them in concentration camps.

The editor of the Hants Journal wrote about a former Kings College student, Allan Duffus, 23, just before the war broke out. He and a friend were questioned by Nazis in Stuttgart for taking pictures of the Nazi soldiers destroying Jewish shops. He pleaded innocent, then went on to join the armed forces and later became a noted Halifax architect.

In 1940, before the Americans joined the war against Hitler, the German consul in Boston objected to a newspaper editorial that protested, ‘the allies are dealing with a wild beast.’ The words were true.

Today, many fear democracy is threatened by similar, but different forces. What happened to Halifax cartoonist Michael de Adder recently was appalling. Being tossed out of the Irving-owned newspapers in New Brunswick for making a political cartoon of the U.S. president proves multi-national corporate interests rule.

“Does it matter if I was fired over one Donald Trump cartoon when every Donald Trump cartoon I submitted in the past year was axed?” de Adder tweeted. “It got to the point where I didn’t submit any Donald Trump cartoons for fear that I might be fired.”

De Adder’s viral cartoon was about Trump’s selfish attitudes and we know that the Americans are separating migrant children from their parents and holding them in warehouse-like conditions. At least six have died in detention since September last year.

Sarah Fabian, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer, has appeared in a viral video arguing that the legal requirement to provide “safe and sanitary” housing doesn’t mean migrant children deserve toothbrushes, soap, blankets or even a place to sleep. Talk about heartless.

Meanwhile, an Indianapolis Anglican church is sending a strong message about the current immigration crisis. Christ Church Cathedral has a display on its lawn. It shows statues of Mary, Joseph and Jesus in a fenced cage. The attached sign says every family is holy.

Vigils against the atrocities going on in places like Texas have become common in over 100 American communities. In Boston, about a thousand Jewish protestors who marched against migrant detention were able to shut down traffic during rush hour. Eighteen of them were arrested.

I should think Jewish youth were highly aware of history. No sane person wants to see concentration camps continue to exist, so I was glad to know that the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir, on their summer tour, are heading to Cordoba, Spain. Choir director Heather Fraser wanted to show the young singers a city where, at one time in history, there were respectful relations between Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. 

At the end of the 15th century, that changed. The forces of Christianity expelled both the Jewish and Muslims. But during the Medieval era, there were many examples of trust and collaboration. It can be done because all humans deserve respect. If only the lessons of history didn’t have to be repeated.

Former Advertiser and Register reporter Wendy Elliott lives in Wolfville.

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