Germany, at the time, seemed as civilized and cultured as any Western European nation in the 1930s. Few German citizens took the Nazi movement seriously until it was too late. And, just as important, Germans under Nazi rule were mostly compliant, many complicit and almost all silent.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Americans were shocked at the barbarity of it all. But when Franklin Roosevelt imprisoned almost 150,000 Americans of Japanese descent, most were silent.
Donald Trump came to office with less than half the popular vote. When he spoke of the scourge of illegal immigrants in the country, few expected him to win and fewer thought much would come of it when he did. But, when he won and when after only three weeks in office police started to pull undocumented Mexicans off the streets and away from their children and to expel them to Mexico, there was little reaction. Jan Brewer, the female ex-governor of Arizona, in fact, cheered the police actions.
Humans have a propensity to care about others. But, up to a point only – when it is in vogue and when it is easy. We, of all political and social persuasions, have become accustomed to life in a free society and to championing the rights of those less fortunate. As Americans, our founding documents all speak to a larger and diverse human family.
But then something happens to test our resolve. Trump happens. And, we mostly turn deaf ears. Human beings, even in the 21st century, really aren’t as expansive in heart and actions as we would like to believe.
Where will it all go in six weeks, six months, four years?