Flames of Passion

I was absolutely inflamed at seeing the storming of the capitol by the gang of mostly white supremacists and anti-Semites, dancing, laughing and chanting obscenely through the hallowed halls of the seat of democracy, proudly wearing for all to see, the clothing and carrying the banners symbolizing their hatred for African Americans and Jews and I felt an enormous embarrassment that I had played the fool and been betrayed into believing that this country, its people, were moving in the right direction. They are not and anyone thinking likewise should rip off the blinders that conceal the terrible reality.

I saw the fool with the hoodie and the words “Camp Auschwitz” on it and I felt as if I would either vomit or find the fool and tear his teeth out, if he had any. I felt similar unbridled passion upon seeing the photo of the noose that had been raised by protesters outside of the capitol, the dreadful reminder of how “justice” was at one time meted out to African Americans and how some want it reinstated today.

I felt outrage and I wanted to strike out at something, someone, somehow and show my vengeance for such depravity that is growing and gripping and infecting millions of Americans, or so they call themselves.

And the fiery feelings of betrayal kept growing in intensity in the days after the attack when members of Congress, enablers all, and others throughout the country did not react with the appropriate venom to such actions but rather were apologists and compared the mob to those who protested against police violence. In the days, weeks and months before the invasion, even the president of the United States stood behind the hate-filled rabble and I saw the complicity and support from the highest levels for the racism and anti-Semitism that flowed like poison through these mutated Americans.

But I didn’t vomit, I didn’t attack or otherwise strike out. I did nothing and I don’t know where that incredible, visceral outrage goes if it doesn’t vent and though I can’t possibly understand the reactions of African Americans to such barbarism, hatred and racism, I wonder where their wrath goes if not released.

It is not contained for very long but is expressed internally, eating you up from inside or is expressed in self-destructive substance abuse; indirectly, by striking out indiscriminately and unfairly to a child or a spouse; but somehow it will be expressed.

In the movie “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” there’s a point where the white record producer breaks the heart and smashes the dreams of Levee, an African American jazz musician and the pivotal character played by Chadwick Boseman. The producer tells Levee that he will not record his songs even though the producer had previously promised Levee that he would. Levee seethes with anger but can’t express his disappointment and hatred to the white producer who will decide if Levee will continue as a member of the band and instead, he later vents his emotions by indiscriminately killing one of the other African American members of the band.

Upon seeing the words “Camp Auschwitz,” I was excruciatingly reminded of the inhuman hatred that is anti-Semitism that still seethes and in my mind, I saw images of terrified men and women and little boys and girls, all wearing the telltale yellow Stars of David, screaming and crying uncontrollably as children were ripped from the arms of their mothers and husbands looked back in utter resignation and despair while they were violently separated from their wives and all were eventually led to deaths in the horrifying gas chambers or possibly experimentation by the Nazi doctors who ripped off limbs and injected chemicals in their bloodthurst, and all because of their victims’ Judaism.

It reminded me in the starkest of terms that hatred of Jews is not a thing of the evil past but is very much alive and well in America, that I could one day hear that ghastly knock on the door in the middle of the night and I would be whisked away. In watching newsreels of the death camps in World War II, I recall seeing the faces of the Nazis who had finished their day of inhumanity and were having dinner, drinking wine, laughing, dancing, playing music and it was the same faces I saw in the rabble at the capitol.

There is not an African American in this land who cannot trace his heritage not so many years back to the evil of slavery and the systematic dehumanizing that was sanctioned by every branch of government at the highest levels, from the president to the congress to the courts. The abortive coup at the capitol showed with crystal clarity that hatred toward African Americans is as visceral and widespread as it ever was. And I can only imagine how impossibly difficult it is for African American mothers and fathers to try to make sense and explain it all to their children.

And likewise, every Jew has a bond with those brothers and sisters who were extinguished in the camps under a policy that was promoted by the Nazis and tacitly approved by so many millions of Germans, the “banality of evil” as expressed by Hannah Arent. That same banality of evil threatens us today and make no mistake that is has the deadly potential to destroy us all.

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer