Monday, April 20, 2009

Could It Happen Here? Grand Opening Celebration of the Holocaust Memorial and Education Center in Skokie

With the spectre of left-wing fascism on the rise, and with conservatives targeted by Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, as possible bad people, I was happy to use the free ticket, which I got via online request, and see the public grand opening of nearby Skokie's new museum, The Holocaust Memorial and Education Center yesterday afternoon. The celebration was grand indeed, with stirring speeches on human rights by Elie Wiesel, Bill Clinton, Gov. Quinn, the German ambassador, and others, including a number of greeting delivered on tape. While I never was a fan of Bill Clinton, he gave a surprisingly excellent and academic talk on genocide. A priest and a rabbi gave prayers, and I think the Protestants were represented by a black gospel choir, who were very cheerful and upbeat.

I was impressed by this event, which must have taken hundreds, and maybe even thousands of hours of planning. There was great sensitivity shown in the speeches to past and current issues of genocide as well as the problems that result when identifiable groups are singled out as objects of prejudice. In coming days, the museum is presenting symposiums on a number of human rights topics with the type of speakers that you usually need to travel downtown to see. So take a look at the calendar, you might find something of interest.

When I left my house, I dressed pretty warmly, but I got colder and colder in the outdoor tent. Unless you walked the whole way, entrance was by bus. By the time the speeches ended the weather had changed from merely drippy to pouring. The line for buses had become a sea of mud, and I returned home cold, wet, hungry and muddy. On the way back I saw an assortment of mobile command posts, NIPAS vehicles, Sheriff's buses, and squad cars at the Skokie Courthouse, who managed to stay in the background while providing security.

The ridicule of tea party participants by government officials, and the identification of conservatives by by Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano as possibly dangerous due to their viewpoints almost exactly parallels the warnings of the type of actions covered yesterday that are worrisome. I left hopeful that things will be okay, and someone will speak out for those of us who believe in limited government and traditional values before it is too late. As local Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall, notes on the museum's website, "Today, it happened to me because I was a Jew. Tomorrow, it may be because you have blue eyes or because you're Catholic."


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