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The foundation for Kristallnacht — the Night of the Broken Glass — started with little notice by the German public. Hitler was determined to make Nazi Germany “Jew Free,” and so it was ordered that 50,000 Polish Jews be evicted from Germany and returned to Poland.

They were rounded up by the Gestapo, put on trains and then dumped on the Polish border without food, clothing or shelter. Many died, and this act so outraged a 17-year-old German Jew living in Paris that he, Hershl Grynszpan, shot and killed a third-ranking secretary serving at the German embassy.

In response to this act of vengeance, the Nazis decided that a night of revenge would take place across Germany and Austria. Jewish stores were broken into, synagogues destroyed, women were raped, men killed and homes set on fire. The police only intervened if the fires threatened the homes of the non-Jewish neighbors.

Never happen here, right?

The Trump administration has now targeted a group of people for eviction, called those of protected status. These are the individuals who live here primarily because of natural disasters in their home countries. The president has revoked their status and ordered them to depart, voluntarily or otherwise. Those on his radar screen include individuals from Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Sudan and Nicaragua. Of course, most happen to be Latina and/or Muslim.

Between these families and the children of DACA, we can estimate more than 2 million people will be, unless Congress acts, rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and forcibly removed back to their country of origin.

ICE is already conducting raids on meatpacking plants and agricultural workers to remove them from our workforce and our country. If the president’s edict goes forward, night-time raids by government agents, sweeping arrests across neighborhoods will become a common everyday experience in our daily lives.

I wonder what members think of these developments in the synagogues across our nation? Do they have flashbacks and, if so, why do we not hear them?

We should not feel superior, my good Catholic friends. It hasn’t been that long ago the days that Doris Kerns Goodwin described in her work, “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga” were part of our national life. The Irish arriving in the U.S. were confronted with a life in our cities living in squalor, where it was said of the young children, “healthy in the morning and dead at night.” Those looking for work saw signs that said “hiring, Irish need not apply.” Now from the pulpits of our priests and bishops’ silent words fall on the marble church floors.

Cannot the good German Lutherans find among their masses another Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote so eloquently of living a Christian life in the time of the Third Reich in his “Letters and Papers from Prison,” stroked by a pen while residing in a Gestapo prison before his execution.

Japanese-Americans from their days of interment, the Italians and African-Americans all have a history that should spark opposition.

I feel strongly the administration’s course must be altered by the outrage of the American public.

The far right of the evangelical movement should not be allowed to define our values. There are good, moderate, Republicans who need to know the body politic does not condone the administration’s course of action. This even as Liberty University prepares a film depicting President Trump as the fulfillment of God’s prophecy.

Responsible Republicans and Democrats need to hear a chorus of the like-minded citizens who will support their opposition.

Günter Grass said at the end of his novel, “The Tin Drum” that the black cook who chased Oskar through his passage in Nazi Germany kept singing the same refrain, “who’s to blame, who’s to blame” for Hitler? His answer was simply the German people collectively.

We all live in our own time and shape the events of this nation by action, inaction and indifference. When historians write 20 years from now of this period, they may observe that this was when America lost its way. Worse, they may say, if permitted, this is when America lost its soul.

Dave Nagle is a Waterloo attorney and former U.S. congressman.


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