What is happening to this world?

A few weeks ago, two Chinese tourists posed in front of the Berlin Reichstag and snapped pictures giving the nazi salute. They were arrested. I’ve seen some people on Facebook comment on the news article expressing that they thought that arresting them was a bit harsh, that they were just joking around. Well, I didn’t find the punishment harsh, and I didn’t find their behavior funny. Not by a long shot.

If you’re German, you live with the perpetuated guilt of what happened during World War II. We’re not allowed to take these things lightly and nazi salutes and any other signs or gestures referring to the Nazis is forbidden and punished in Germany. We know and understand why, even 75 years later. The rest of the world still doesn’t let us ‘off the hook’ for something that happened two generations ago (most of the people who lived through it are mostly gone now). We, as a society, still pay for what happened before most of us were born, but we recognize that this is only because we can never let something like this happen ever again.

And yet, fascism is on the rise again, most recently evident in this country. You guys, the news out of Charlottesville, VA has left me kind of speechless. How is this kind of stuff happening in 2017? Have people learned nothing?

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.[bctt tweet=”If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. #resist” username=”san_in_ca”]

Americans (excuse the generalization) seem to have an obsession with World War II. You just have to turn on the History channel where 90% of content is related to Hitler and the Third Reich. Yes, of course, history needs to be remembered and teach a lesson, but the emphasis is on ‘teach a lesson’, never ever letting something like this happen again.

There is a fine line between teaching and educating about historical events and making sure that nobody glorifies them or portrays them as something to strive to repeat.

What is wrong with people? Specifically, what is wrong with mostly young (white) men? Where does this hate come from? What are they afraid of? What are they trying to protect?

“We won’t be replaced…” is what they were yelling. Replaced by whom? By what?

The white supremacists with their hate and bigotry have been allowed to step into the spotlight and they’re not even covering their faces. They feel legitimized by a president that has spewn around hate, bigotry and racist remarks himself just to appeal to a certain group of people. Now he can’t even publicly renounce what happened in Charlottesville because he’s afraid of losing his base. Worse yet, he might actually believe what is coming out of his mouth, bascially standing behind white supremecists and telling them that what they’re thinking and doing is ok.

This is what being caught in the middle must feel like. How does this work out for someone who’s conveniently tried to swim with the tide at all times?

I tell you how it works out. Not at all. You can’t conveniently flip-flop on every single issue while standing for nothing. This is not what leadership is about. What the president said in yesterday’s press conference is all you needed to know about this man. He has no integrity, no moral compass, no feel for right or wrong. 

I don’t know if there were counterprotesters who engaged, even initiated, confrontation. I’d wholeheartedly condemn this. But the fact is that one group was protesting rascism and hate and the other was promoting it. Which side do you think our president should be on?

Please excuse the rambling. I am afraid I am not really eloquent in putting all my thoughts together coherently. There is a lot I still don’t fully understand and it’s hard to stay on top of everything that is going on, but I’m trying hard to stay engaged and educate myself.

Regardless of how much I have to learn, I do know this: This is NOT OKAY.  Nazis are NOT OKAY. The KKK is NOT OKAY. Racism, hate and bigotry, or whatever you want to call it, is NOT OKAY.  Violence is NOT OKAY.

In this country, free speech is encouraged, even protected, but the Constitution also doesn’t give you a blank permission to say whatever you want. Free speech and hate speech are two different things. You can’t go around spewing hate and expect to be respected. These two things are mutually exclusive and there will be consequences.

The Constitution protects the right to peaceably assemble, but does showing up with torches and guns really send the message that you’re peaceable? Does using a car as a weapon send the message that you mean no harm? That you “just want to state your opinions”? I strongly disagree.

Still, I believe most people are inherently good. I do believe that love and compassion can conquer all. I am convinced that most people agree that we’re all equal and deserve the same rights and freedoms. Not one person should be allowed to suppress another. Equality doesn’t take anything away from a person, it simply gives rights to someone else who hadn’t been so privileged before.

[bctt tweet=”Equality doesn’t take anything away, it gives rights to s.o. who hadn’t been so privileged before. #resist #nohate #equality” username=”san_in_ca”]

I have no idea how to wrap up this post in a neat way, but may I suggest some reading material.

So, you want to fight white supremacy.

8 ways to help after Charlottesville

Syllabus for white people to educate themselves

These are scary times. We can’t look away. We need to stay engaged. White supremecy has been around for a long time, but we can’t under any circumstances let this fringe mindset become mainstream.


  1. I’ve been absolutely disgusted about what has been happening. I am glad you wrote a post, I haven’t found the right words yet.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth. I know it’s hard to even wrap your head around what’s happening…

  2. Well said! I also have not found the words to say about all this, especially as a german …

    1. Thanks, Melanie. I know we Germans have a special perspective on the events…

  3. What a thoughtful post. Thank you. I share your concern and dismay at current expressions of hate. That they resurrect past evil is terrible.

    My father was born in Germany in 1930, lived as a child through WWII with his house being bombed daily, and emigrated here in 1950. The next two decades of his life were hard — anti-German sentiment after the war was strong. Even though he (and I, born here in 1957) had no involvement with the odious Nazi movement, it tars us to this day. I agree with you that fining Chinese tourists for being to disrespectful was okay. People need to understand and respect history.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by…. seems like you have first hand experience through your family history what it means to have German heritage and be reminded of the past all the time.

      1. Yup. I’m going down to Florida to visit my dad tomorrow. He says that during the Fifties, people mentioned his heritage to him in a negative way all the time.

  4. Hi San, Dropping in to say that this is a very well-expressed post. I am dismayed at the ignorance of those tourists in Berlin. It’s disgusting and unacceptable. People need to be sensitive and respectful of the past especially when they are guests in a different country.

    You’re absolutely right when you say “Americans are obsessed with WWII,” but the emphasis seems more on the war and military techniques than on looping back to the present and teaching a lesson on safeguarding democracy.

    1. Thanks friend. I always appreciate your comments. It’s hard to watch what’s happening…

  5. Ich empfinde deine Worte als sehr durchdacht und gut gewählt. Keine Sorge 😊

    1. Vielen Dank, liebe Fee.

  6. Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been feeling myself lately. It’s hard to fathom that such hate and bigotry still exists in the world and yet, here we are, seemingly no further ahead morally and ideologically than we were during WWII. It’s so ugly and so disheartening :(

    I remember a time when I went to a bar in a small town in Germany with my Columbian friend who happened to be wearing a shirt with a German flag on it. He was burned by a cigarette and spit on and called vile names because people assumed he was a nazi. It wasn’t until we went outside and explained that NO he wasn’t a nazi that we really understood the price Germans still have to pay for their ancestors. I get it. I am German too and I have relatives who fought on both sides during the war. It’s something you can easily forget or move beyond but the important lesson is to learn from the mistakes of our past.

    XOXO thanks for sharing this

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Charlotte. I was appalled to read that your friend was verbally assaulted in a bar because he wore a t-shirt with a German flag… when was that? I like to think that things have changed a bit, or at least we’re allowed to show a bit more patriotism around sports competitions these days, without being called “Nazis” for displaying a flag…. but it is true. There still is a lot of anger towards Germans, even if Hitler wasn’t even German (ha!) and we’re two generations removed from this horrible time.

      1. This was a very long time ago–maybe nearly 20 years? I was happy to see Germany win the world cup and proudly fly flags, because I know this isn’t something that typically happens.

        Sending so much love your way–open dialogue always helps us along and bridges gaps in understanding! XOXO

  7. So great to hear your perspective as a young German. I was born and raised in Hawaii and am of Japanese ancestry. I can understand how you feel a little about living with guilt. Even though the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor long before I was born, it hangs over my head to some extent. I am not equating our two backgrounds at all but just want you to know I understand a little. I remember growing up and having other kids in school call me Jap (derogatory terminology for Japanese). Both my parents were born in Hawaii and my father even served in the US military during Occupation of Japan after WWII. In any case, I can’t believe what is going on in our country. I live in the southeast now and have two young boys. I worry about them constantly because of their ethnic background. They are still so innocent and I wait for them to come home one day asking why and then having no good answers for them. Instead of the world getting better with diversity, it seems that certain groups are winning by perpetuating more and more hate. In any case, thank you for your perspective.

    1. Thank you Joy for chiming in with your own experience. It might not be the exact same, but I can definitely understand where you and your family are coming from. You have experiences rascim towards your country of ancestry as well. It’s hard to understand why people can’t just see other people, regardless of skin color or race.

  8. Well said, lady. It’s a hard, hard time in this country of ours right now and it’s frustrating and saddening to see what’s going on. I was working in Charlottesville on Saturday and it was scary to see the whole thing play out on twitter and from reports of people on the ground.

    It’s such a hard line between remembering the history and not glorifying the terrible things that happened. There are a lot of slippery slopes involved there and it’s all just hard.

    My heart hurts, mostly.

    1. Oh goodness, you were working in Charlottesville on Saturday? But you weren’t directly involved in the protests, or where you? It must have been different to see the whole thing play out and being so close physically to the place of protest.

      It is really, really hard to understand why this is happening and my heart is heavy, too.

  9. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Great thoughts on this horrible topic and situation. I’ve shed a lot of tears and had a lot of anxiety this week. Just when I think things can’t get worse, they do. It truly is unbelievable. The reality that this is our reality is almost too much to take. We will resist and persist but my god, it’s exhausting. :)

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Courtney! I definitely feel you on the feeling of exhaustion from all this… sometimes, I just want to shut off the news and not even know what’s going on… but that’s not really an option, is it? ;)

  10. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I’ve been sick, horrified, ashamed and outraged at how people are acting. All I can do is think back to what our country was right after the attacks on 9/11 and how it seemed as if everyone was unified and fighting for a common purpose. Now, there is so much hate and I don’t get it. I’ve not been able to gather my thoughts enough to write on the topic, but perhaps sometime next week. For now, I’m encouraged to read so many words from friends who are also feeling the same way I do. This was beautifully written!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lecy. I appreciate it. I mean, I know that rascim and hate has always been there (probably exists in every society), but usually it’s a fringe movement… to have them come out in broad daylight and be legitimized by the president is just… unbelievable!

  11. I think you said this so eloquently. I hate that there is even a need for a post like this but sadly our country is in such a sad state right now, and our leader is just making things all the worse. We all saw his true colors during the campaign season and now his gloves are off and he can really say whatever he wants without any real consequences. It’s just a total disgrace. I am sickened by the fact that he thinks that there are ‘good people’ who are white supremacists. Or that he calls the confederate statues “beautiful” and thinks it’s a shame they are coming down. He’s so out of touch with reality and what our nation values. It’s just incredibly disappointing. And to think we are just 1/2 year into his 4 year term makes me ever more sick.

    I’m trying to have hope that the good people in our nation will overwhelm the evil members who have spoken up lately. But it’s just defeating overall.

    1. I know! I hate, too that we even have to talk about this…. that stuff like this is still happening in 2017! I have hope too that the good people in our nation won’t let the haters get away with their hate, but it is hard to witness the animosity!

  12. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to some of the southern states where they fly the confederate flag proudly (no kidding, they do) and make no apologies for it. But this has been going on for decades, unfortunately, and is nothing new at all in the US. Racism runs deep and didn’t go away because Obama was elected president twice. If anything, it made this racist human garbage population even angrier. What they have in Trump now is a president who supports them and will not apologize or condemn their behavior. So they have burst from their underground caves and think they can loudly demand their terms be met. To be honest, they need to be quashed for good because there is absolutely no room in this world for this sort of hatred of other groups of people based on their skin color, race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, etc. Enough is enough.

    1. Luckily (?) I have not been to the Southern states, but I know that flying the confederate (and/or nazi) flag happens and that rascim runs deep there. Of course, I know that rascim has always been there, might always be there, but to have it legitimized by the president of this country is just appaling and unacceptable.
      I agree with you, there is absolutely no room for this kind of hate in this world… but I am afraid it’s going to be a tough road.

  13. Great post! And yes, Americans do have an odd obsession with WWII. I used to love the History Channel. The events last week have left me horrified. Living in the South, I’m very well aware of this sentiment and I know white supremacist groups have increased exponentially since Obama took office but to think that there’s now a coalition of hate groups marching through the streets armed, carrying Nazi flags, is appalling. My mom’s side is Ukrainian Jewish and both of my maternal grandparents and their families were impacted by the war. My grandfather fought on the front lines in the Soviet army while my grandmother’s brother fought with the partisans (and never heard from again). My grandmother was young during the war and she and her parents were evacuated to one of the -stan countries when the Nazis invaded. And now, today, Nazis will be marching through the streets of our city and I just hope she won’t be watching the news. I’m an atheist and I’m personally not familiar with Jewish culture (I was brought up in a very Soviet home) so it’s hard for me to identify with the fear that I’m sure many Jews and non-whites across the country are now living with, but I still can’t believe that this is America in 2017.

    1. For people like us, who have a family connection WWII (my grandfather fought at the Russian front) it’s so much harder to see things happen like in Charlottesville.

Comments are closed.