Officially Sanctioned Antisemitism in the U.K. Now and in the U.S. Then
On August 22, 2022, Evelyn Markus and I interviewed on our NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast The Right Honorable Joan Ryan, a former Member of Parliament of the U.K. who quit the Labour Party to protest the antisemitic policies of the Labour Party and its then-leader. Consequently she lost her seat in Parliament.
I highly recommend listening to the above podcast; note that Rt. Hon. Joan Ryan isn’t Jewish — she took action solely due to her own principles.
And in the U.S. …
Subsequently I was researching in my own archives for an op ed piece that my future husband, Mitch Miller, published on April 18, 1967, in the States News of Michigan State University. (Mitch and I first met in January 1967 on the editorial staff of the State News.)
I wanted to use his powerful op ed piece for something else that I am writing, and then it occurred to me that Mitch’s words published in 1967 about antisemitism and speaking up against this parallels Joan Ryan’s statements now.
Yes, another country, another time period — and yet the same officially sanctioned antisemitism. And the same need to speak up against it!
Here then, with his permission, is Mitch’s 1967 op ed piece titled “In memory of six million”:
ASMSU has invited George Lincoln Rockwell, “Fuehrer” of the American Nazi Party, to speak on campus, April 20th.
The student government [ASMSU] apparently believes that Rockwell has a political position and that he has the right to express it. This is like saying that Richard Speck has the right to preach his code of morality in somebody’s church Sunday morning.
Rockwell represents the era of the most vicious brutality in human history, the era when whole peoples were selected for extermination as part of the “political” program of an insane dictator, the era this extermination was carried out.
The enormity of the dead millions removes this matter from considerations of free speech. The question is whether we should allow this animal to come among us, and pollute the air with his ravings. His very presence is an incitement to riot among those who cannot be “disinterested” about the murder of innocent people.
I do not think he should have been invited here. But he is coming, and we are to be faced with the survival of an ideology many thought long dead. Perhaps the sight of Rockwell and his henchmen, dressed in their storm-trooper uniforms, spouting their obscenities, will remind people of the reality of Nazism and what it stands for. Perhaps those who never knew, those who do not believe, those who say, “no, it really wasn’t as bad as that” will see the truth.
Nazism is not simply another political philosophy. I would listen, without protest, to anyone from Norman Thomas to George Wallace explain their position. But there is a limit, beyond which extremism becomes totalitarianism, and at that point I no longer find it possible to be silent. I will not sit idly by while anyone advocates my murder as part of his political program.
What should be done to protest Rockwell’s appearance? Not throwing tomatoes, or rocks, for that would play into his hands. The Nazi expects that. Not engaging in heckling, or shouting, or even a discussion, for that would imply that there is something to discuss.
What must be done is show Rockwell that we know what he stands for, and that we find him guilty. We must show that we are united in our condemnation, just as the Danes, from the lowest street sweeper to the King and Queen, showed the minions of the last Fuehrer where they stood.
I do not know what President Hannah [president of Michigan State University] will do on that day, but I will go to Rockwell’s speech, and I shall wear a yellow Star of David.