Elie Wiesel has had a rough few years. However, being attacked by a Holocaust denier in 2007 and losing $15.2 million in his foundation's assets to Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme in 2009, hardly compares to the horrific months Wiesel survived at Auschwitz, Buna-Werke, and Buchenwald. Prior to Friday, it had not occurred to me that Wiesel was being reminded of the unspeakable events of his past every day as the news media flash images of signs being created for these tea party protests across the country and in Washington, D.C. this past week especially.
Wiesel issued a statement via his Twitter account Friday, condemning the usage of Nazi-era imagery including concentration camps, anti-Semitism and Holocaust comparisons, on tea party signage. Wiesel has written many books, given many speeches, and yet, he didn't need many words to get his point across: "This kind of political hatred is indecent and disgusting."
The signs Mr. Wiesel was responding to were those that surfaced on the steps of the capitol building last week as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) summoned tea party activists from across the country to pay a visit to members of congress prior to the weekend vote on health care reform (many of whom arrived on buses organized and paid for by astro-turfing conservative groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.
Intelligent and sensitive members of humanity everywhere should be disturbed and disgusted by the signage and rhetoric that is being used in protest of Obama's policies and health care reform. This is no longer about Democrats vs. Republicans, liberals vs. conservatives, it's about truth and sensitivity vs. misinformation and hate. In all fairness, even those among us who do not necessarily agree with White House policy can recognize the bizarre hysteria among some tea party protesters, especially those protesters who carried signs with photos of murdered Jews to Michele Bachmann's "House call" protest at the capitol.
Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors are right to condemn the use of Nazi symbols and other scare tactics, as we all should.