For nearly three hundred years, the American democracy has been a shining light in a world in which dictators and autocrats still rule.
As we all know, on January 6th, there was an attempted coup to overturn our democracy. Thankfully, it was stopped before any real damage could be done.
In Myanmar, there was also a revolt by the military after an election. But this revolt was a success. The leaders of the democratically elected government have been imprisoned. General Min Aung Hlaing is, for all intents and purposes, in charge.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this is another reminder that a democratic government does not exist on thin air. It requires that both lawmakers and citizens fully participate. Only then will it last for generations, if not centuries.
Alex Wagner is the face of modern America. European on her father’s side and Burmese (modern-day Myanmar) on her mother’s side, Ms. Wagner went on a journey to not only discover her family’s past, but also discover who she is as individual.
Today we say never again. Today we remember the millions of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who were murdered by the Nazis and the collaborators simply for being who they were.
The problem is that while we say never again, ethnic genocide is still happening across the world.
The Rohingya Muslims are a minority from Myanmar. Since last summer, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees escaped to Bangladesh. They were the lucky ones. Countless others were murdered for no other reason that being born a Rohingya Muslim.
It’s no secret that the war in Syria is responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. The gas attack last week in Douma left around 100 dead. The survivors, mostly women and children, scrambled to the local hospital to remove the chemicals from their bodies.
It’s 2018. I would have hoped that by now, we would have learned our lesson. We would have stood up to dictators and despots before they killed their own people. We would have stopped ethnic cleansing before it began.
The Holocaust, like all massacres of an ethnic or religious minority did not start off with concentration camps and gas chambers. It started with words. It started with the dehumanization of Jews and other minorities. That led to political and social disenfranchisement, which directly led to the concentration camps and gas chambers.
After World War II, the common phrase was “never again”. Never again will we stand by as our fellow human beings are slaughtered simply for being who they are. Never again will we let a government openly persecute and slaughter our fellow citizens because they belong to a different faith or their heritage is different from ours.
Never again has become a hollow statement that often used, but rarely acted upon.
In Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslim minority is being massacred en masse by the government. Their only crime, like all of victims of ethnic cleansing, was being who they are.
Perhaps instead of never again, we should simply say again, because ethnic cleansing has happened multiple times since 1945 and we simply continue not to care.