Censorship, book banning, and "cancel culture" all tie into our First Amendment right to free speech, a critical component of our fragile democracy. I have great admiration for the saying, "We can agree to disagree," which is why I find the removal of books that speak to the truth of this country's founding quite disturbing. I don't know of anyone who feels good about the shameful aspects of our history; but if we choose to ignore it, we're doomed to repeat it, as many great minds have portended. This last sentiment contributes to the impetus, in my humble opinion, to ensure the Holocaust is not forgotten.
I recently read a gripping memoir written by a good friend's father, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor. In his book titled The Life of a Child Survivor, Ben Midler poignantly laid out the atrocities he witnessed as a young teen. Midler took me on a harrowing journey, starting with the Nazi bombings and invasion of his home town in Poland to his long overdue rescue and liberation, all while continuously searching for members of his family. He provided keen insight into the political and societal aspects of how such depravity could ever take place and is acutely aware that the current generation of youths is far removed in their familiarity with this history.
Leading up to last week's mid-term elections, many decried the frightening possibility of the loss of our democracy to fascism and autocratic rule. The re-engineering of voter districts primarily to the disadvantage of marginalized communities (gerrymandering) made it more difficult for those voters to participate in a free and fair election. However, this self-serving scheme led to record voter turnout even in the face of rising inflation, extremist tribalism, and growing political violence. Our voices would have been extinguished and the outcome of the elections likely predetermined if we lived under autocratic rule. But the American people spoke up once again for democracy.
When I first wrote this blog to be posted after the elections, I wasn't sure we'd still have a democratic government. However, it seems the American people remain vested in its survival. If we don't fight for democracy, our Great American Experiment will fail. And that fight necessitates an understanding of the principles on which our Nation was founded—the good, the bad, and the ugly.