Marchers in Charlottesville bore Nazi tattoos, shouted anti-Jewish slogans, and waved Swastika flags to express devotion to the legacy of the German Nazi party. A white supremacist news website whose name I will not publicize here called the rally in Charlottesville “our Beer Hall Putsch,” referring to Adolf Hitler’s first attempt to seize power in Munich. 

Perhaps to remind everyone about the appalling history for which modern Nazis march, Holocaust photos have begun to appear online with more frequency. One in particular depicts Jewish mothers in line for the firing squad, stripped naked and clutching their babies. Babies whose last seconds on earth are enshrined in a photo that portrays them as curious, wide-eyed, and alive for only a few more moments.

Since 2016 election, a rallying cry for human rights advocates has been, “This is not normal.” Yet for oppressed groups like people of color and the LGBTQ community, fears for civil liberties and personal safety are nothing new. How must a Black mother panic every single time her son walks out the front door? I have not experienced that type of fear for my own children, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect me or humanity at large. Empathy is the gift that slaps you awake and keeps on slapping. The only way to turn it off is to die inside.

So despite headaches, indigestion, frequent nightmares, I can’t sit this one out. If I look away from the oppression, violence, and death affecting real people now, in 2017, then I would have looked away from those mothers and babies getting shoved onto train cars in the 1940s. Resisting makes me uncomfortable and sweaty and increasingly afraid, and so tell myself, “This isn’t normal.” But it is absolutely normal for others, and that needs to change.

— André Swartley, Newton