I have been incredibly blessed to have traveled a bit and from each country I always learn so much. I always enjoy speaking to the locals about their country, politics and how they view Americans and our politics. It's fascinating to hear the different viewpoints and really offers me a fresh perspective on our policies. I recently went to Germany and had a fabulous time, although I will say I wasn't the biggest fan of Bavarian food....
Anyways, this vacation was a bit different compared to others because it had a much more political undertone. My husband and I were constantly asked about US politics, if we voted for President Trump and why our country voted him in. For the most part, everyone we met is not happy about President Trump and the potential impact he could make in Europe. In fact, some people told us his rhetoric reminded them of Hitler. They went on to say that in the past people would always believe someone would end up stopping Hitler but no one did and so they hope someone will be able to stop President Trump from making bad policies. Majority of Europeans are fearful President Trump could lead America and other European countries into a war.
Nevertheless, we did meet a lovely Russian couple that was excited for President Trump because they believed he would lift the sanctions against Russia and help revitalize their economy. To be honest, I could understand where they were coming from, who wouldn't want a better economic outlook for their country? Furthermore, it got me thinking, what is it about Russia that we are so scared about? Is it only because of the aftermath of the Cold War, because the media deems it so, what exactly is it? I believe this is a topic I need to WiseUp on myself!
Germany's history is vast but it is most well known for the roles it played in the two major World Wars. I couldn't help but notice that in museum after museum so much of the history I read about is currently occurring in America. In this post I parallel what I saw in Germany with what I have been seeing in current day politics. While I have documented much of my podcast segment in this blog post and included pictures, the podcast goes more in depth than what is written here.
To start with Germany has done an incredible job to document each detail of their terrible past especially with regards to what they did to the gypsies, mentally/physically disabled and the Jewish population. I found it admirable how well they owned up to the horrific actions of their people and constantly reminded themselves how this will never ever happen again. In America we skate over the dark parts of our past such as the genocide of the Native American population and slavery. It is a topic discussed in school books and commemorated on certain days but never have we had a multitude of museums in their honor across our country. We could learn a thing or two from the Germans.
Germany has preserved the Gestapo stops from WWII, the Nazi headquarters, the area where the Nazis and their supporters used to reside in Munich and of course the famous Berlin Wall (everything is pictured below). I started my trip in Munich and was surprised to learn that Hitler had his beginnings there. He used to give speeches at the world famous Hofbrau house and in essence Munich is the birthplace of the Nazi movement. Munich seems to be unscathed in comparison to the vitriol people have towards Berlin. In Munich the first seeds of racism and the idea of a superior race were planted.
Germany paid heavily for their aggression from the first World War then the Great Depression came. Millions of Germans fell into poverty and saw many in the Jewish community continuing to prosper. In essence, the disgruntled mood snowballed into a much more dangerous and alarming emotion which lead to the extermination of over 6 million Jews in Europe. While our political situation is not as perilous we can see similar patterns forming. The picture gallery below showcases the events that contributed to the rise of Hitler and his policies. It all begins with extremist viewpoints and policies. It is imperative for us to learn how this came about to ensure we can catch the signs and stop bad and alarming policies from forming.
America suffered a major economic recession (2008) ever since the Great Depression and we have yet to come back to the golden days of the 90s. Many white Americans feel the immigrants are coming in to take their jobs and for the most part this is untrue. Many jobs have gone overseas or are being replaced by technology. This feeling of job insecurity is probably a contributing factor to the virulent opposition of more immigrants coming to America and could be a harbinger of much more serious problems if this issue is not quickly resolved.
As a community we can not continuously rely on the government to fix this problem but we can do things to help lessen the anxiety some Americans feel about immigrants. We could do a better job of investing in our communities and neighborhoods. Too often many of us send money back to India/Pakistan/Bangladesh and while they need the money we also need to invest and help people out in America. Furthermore, a few Desis take advantage of the system by performing tax evasions and then enrolling in CHIP or Medicaid while having huge houses and expensive cars. We are all ambassadors of our faith and culture and when others see this type of behavior it is easy for them to stereotype immigrants taking advantage of the system and leaving others behind. This type of behavior does not bode well for our community and only perpetuates a negative stereotype. If you or anyone you know participates in these schemes it is best to discontinue these practices.
This trip to Germany was an eye opening experience for me and allowed me the opportunity to rethink how I wanted to continue with WiseUp. I must admit after the election I have been in a sort of funk and this helped me out of it. I realize how important my work and our communities activism is. While I felt apprehensive for our country when reading the history of World War II, I am still optimistic we will not reach such a frightening state of affairs. I say this because of how many protests there have been, the relentless coverage of the media to call out President Trump, the politicians who are attempting to take a stand against President Trump, some of the court rulings and then there is us. We have become much more active, we are out there talking to our politicians, participating in interfaith dialogue and we must continue this activism. This cannot stop. We cannot relent. We must persist. It is a lot of work and it is tiring but we must be determined.
There are a two quotes I found that I felt were very applicable to current day history. You can easily replace the word "Jew" with "Muslim" for it to apply today. It is unnerving to read but imperative to know. Finally, I also wanted to showcase one of my favorite exhibits the entire trip. The last few photos were taken at the Jewish Museum in Berlin that showcased how Jews, Muslims and Christians aren't so different after all and that is the hope I am going to take going forward. =)