Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Nice people made the best Nazis."

Writer Naomi Shulman wrote an op-ed for station WBUR titled "No Time To Be Nice: Now Is Not The Moment To Remain Silent" (November 17, 2016). One paragraph from this article has turned into an internet meme -- that is, it's widely quoted without full attribution, and sometimes with additions or alterations by whoever is quoting. It's appeared on Facebook and elsewhere. Here is a direct quote:
"Nice people made the best Nazis. 
"Or so I have been told. My mother was born in Munich in 1934, and spent her childhood in Nazi Germany surrounded by nice people who refused to make waves. When things got ugly, the people my mother lived alongside chose not to focus on 'politics,' instead busying themselves with happier things. They were lovely, kind people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. 
"I don’t remember the first time I heard the stories my mother told me; I feel like I always knew them. She’s dead now. If she were alive, I imagine she would be quite sanguine; all her anxieties would be realized, so there would no longer be anything left to fear."
The article continues Naomi Shulman's observations of some of her friends and neighbors' reactions to the election. She mentions "apolitical" people she knows who refuse to discuss politics. They say things like "Count me among the silent resistance." She asks:
"The silent resistance? What did that even mean, to resist silently?"
She concludes: "I miss my mother. I am speaking for her now."
If you see this meme floating around the internet, you might want to link to the actual article. Obviously, it's a little more subtle than the imitators. Again: "No Time To Be Nice: Now Is Not The Moment To Remain Silent."

Naomi Shulman from WBUR.

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