In response to a recent white nationalist conference in Washington DC, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offered an important reminder and request:
The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words. The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.
Will our Catholic bishops and leaders step up to the plate and confront the rising power and vile bigotry of white nationalists and the entire alt-right movement?
This is the type of rhetoric that sparked this response:
According to press reports, Richard Spencer, the leader of the National Policy Institute – a white nationalist think tank – that sponsored the conference, made several direct and indirect references to Jews and other minorities, often alluding to Nazism. He spoke in German to quote Nazi propaganda and refer to the mainstream media. He implied that the media was protecting Jewish interests and said, “One wonders if these people are people at all?” He said that America belongs to white people. His statement that white people face a choice of “conquer or die” closely echoes Adolf Hitler’s view of Jews and that history is a racial struggle for survival.
With the president-elect’s closest adviser, Steve Bannon, playing a key role in strengthening the alt-right, even calling his publication “the platform of the alt-right,” all Catholics must step up to the Holocaust’s Museum’s call and defend our values. Many Catholics were complicit in the Holocaust, the rise of fascist movements, and other mass atrocities. Let’s learn from history and take a stand against this evil, before another step is taken down the slippery slope.