Home > justice, Love, Uncategorized > The could-have-been soul-kin of Anne Frank

The could-have-been soul-kin of Anne Frank

I thought of Anne Frank while walking in the rain this morning.

I thought of how she might have lived, had the U.S. approved her entry into the country.

I thought of the final marches made by countless peoples Nazis deemed subhuman. Did each of those marchers know how few steps they had to walk in their lives? Or did they hold out some frail hope as they marched toward gas chambers that the worst was behind them?

I ached, but something in my heart told me I wasn’t only aching because of the past.

I turned toward the present, and my blood ran cold.

Over the weekend, I read further in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.

I learned that the image of Iraq I’d had painted for me by U.S. media when the U.S. invaded Iraq  was wrong. Far from being a backward country in need of re-creation, it had a rich cultural, artistic, and intellectual history. Its literacy rate exceeded that of many U.S. states.

Then the U.S. invaded and destroyed Iraq, obliterating its universities, museums, and faith centers in addition to ending–through torture and killing–countless lives.

I’d had no idea what–or whom–my country destroyed, nor how completely it did so to open new markets.

After World War II, many ordinary Germans claimed they had no idea what was happening to the people forcibly removed from their communities. Even those with concentration camps in their backyards professed shock upon discovering the atrocities perpetrated–and suffered–by people who’d once walked among them.

To focus very narrowly upon a single city or community might make disappearances merely curious.

Pulling back and taking a wider view, we can see from temporal and physical distance that people disappeared from many communities.

Focusing on any one, it is easy to say it’s not such a big deal some people disappeared.

It would, of course, be wrong, for what happened in any individual community didn’t spring from such community. What happened in each was symptomatic of a much greater ill, which can only be seen from further back.

(The earth seems flat while standing upon it. You must view it from space to see that it is curved.)

I wrote recently about the U.S.’s indispensible role destroying Yemeni lives by bombing Yemen and by cutting it off from desperately needed humanitarian supplies.

Those not killed by bombs are killed by slow starvation.

When I wrote, I was troubled and perplexed by my country’s brutal acts, as well as by my fellow Americans’ apparent lack of concern with the same.

U.S. attacks on Yemen and, once again, Iraq might not seem that disturbing taken as two completely separate sets of actions.

Viewing it that way is viewing it too narrowly, for the U.S. has recently bombed and otherwise attacked three other predominantly Muslim Middle Eastern countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria. (In the latter case, U.S. leaders roar for a no-fly zone they quietly acknowledge will kill countless civilians.)

Taking a slighty wider view, the pattern becomes even more sinister: The U.S. is also bombing two Muslim countries in northern Africa. Somalia is under U.S. attack, as is Libya, which was a true democracy until the U.S.’s Clinton-led  intervention a few years ago.

Having destabilized not only Iraq but many of its Muslim neighbors, my country destroys their paths to food, exit, and safety. It totals homes and livelihoods and then dooms entire regions by denying their people safe harbor here.

By Oxford’s definition of genocide, “the deliberate killing of large groups of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation (synonyms: mass murder),” U.S. actions have a name.

Ask some members of certain American contingencies and they’ll tell you we’re bombing Muslim countries because violent Muslims have provoked us to it.

In addition to being a horrifyingly broad overgeneralization, this acontextual view ignores how U.S. attacks have fanned the flames of extremism. In one recent Robert Kennedy piece, he explains how  U.S. Department of Defense “data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and terrorist attacks against the U.S.”

Indeed, Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen told a police negotiator, “You have to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing. They are killing too many children. They are killing too many women, okay.”

In a broadly bipartisan affair, my country has killed and continues to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslim families. To my heart, there is no difference between these families, Sikh families, Christian families, Jewish families, atheist families, or any other loving family.

I cannot stop my government from killing, but I can speak up that none around me may ever truthfully say, “I had no idea that was happening!”

To not know is one thing; to willfully not know, quite another.

As we go about our merry not-knowing, there is no telling how many soul-kin of Anne Frank we are destroying each and every day.

This 10/24/16 post transferred from L2SP 5/16/17


  1. May 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    My father was a German Jew. I suspect (he made an oyster look garrulous) that he was the only one of his family to survive.
    And he didn’t survive undamaged, or unhurt.
    We need to know. We need to speak out. Or the atrocities and the damage will continue. And spread.

    • May 26, 2017 at 4:26 am

      Your comment (“he didn’t survive undamaged, or unhurt”) reminds me of a book I began reading last week: They Were Soldiers by Ann Jones. Some of her opening words begin with that the fact that soldiers return home physically intact doesn’t mean they are unhurt.

      I was only able to read a few chapters before I had to set it aside, for now. I want to know, and I want to know the details; more each day recently, I’ve come to understand how much “the devil is in the details.” Unfortunately, my ability to process some of these damaging details is much, much slower than my ability to read them, so that I have to stop reading and find inspiring words until I’m able to read grim details without being completely deflated.

      (Fortunately, I’m learning to accept my processing limitations instead of plowing through them to leave myself … unable to imagine anything like “hope.”)

  2. May 16, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Well stated. We all need to make a point to see what is going on around us, everywhere in the world. The distanced view, the broad view, the humane view is important. Thanks for the reminder. Anne Frank famously said “That despite everything, people are basically good at heart.” We have to let that goodness take the lead in our actions and make sure we are truly seeing and responding to all that is going on!

    • May 26, 2017 at 4:18 am

      Yes! I’m reading a book that’s turning out to be one of the best reminders of the good (present and possible) I’ve found in the last year. Surprisingly, it’s called Donut Economics, but it’s filled with visions of a new economy whose goal isn’t “growth” but “justice” and whose actors are whole human beings, not caricatured “rational [economic] actors.” It seems so strange, sitting here typing this, that a book about “economics” should be so full of recognition of human capacity for good, but … it is, and reading it (slowly, to savor!) is food for the soul.

  3. May 16, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you for being in my world, Deborah. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your heart.

    • May 26, 2017 at 4:13 am

      Belatedly, ♥
      (I can’t quite find the word, so know that the ♥ is bigger than can possibly be expressed on a screen)

      • May 26, 2017 at 4:35 am

        Same back to you, same size.

  4. June 4, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.


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