No weekend get­away to the States this year

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - SHERYL NADLER sheryl@sh­eryl­nadler.com

Ev­ery few months, two of my best gal pals and I grab roomy duf­fel bags, jump in the car at day­break on a Satur­day morn­ing and head south for 36 hours (give or take). Desti­na­tion: Buf­falo.

With all due re­spect to the City of Buf­falo, the lo­ca­tion is kind of ir­rel­e­vant, other than it’s just away. But the rit­ual is al­most al­ways the same. Mc­Don­ald’s break­fast to go, out­lets on the other side of the Queen­ston-Lewis­ton bridge, head to our ho­tel near the Walden Gal­le­ria, kick back in the ho­tel room over snacks and wine we buy along the way. Even­tu­ally we’ll make our way to din­ner some­where, and more shop­ping, of course, but it’s the cock­tail hour (s) we value most. And with each trip we’ll fine tune our itin­er­ary to al­low for more booz­ing and chat­ting time in the ho­tel. We’ve been do­ing this for years.

So why Buf­falo? Be­cause it’s close enough to home that we don’t have to think too much about travel. But be­ing in the United States feels dif­fer­ent. Dif­fer­ent enough to cre­ate an oceans-wide chasm from our daily stres­sors. Be­cause some­times catch­ing up over a din­ner sand­wiched be­tween a long work­day and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at home just doesn’t cut it. Be­cause some­times we need to com­pletely re­move our­selves from our re­al­ity to get grounded. The goal of the weekend is sim­ply to have real qual­ity time together. And to hit up Tar­get, of course.

We knew our last trip to Buf­falo might be our last for a long time. We didn’t know then what the out­come of the U.S. elec­tion would be or how it would af­fect us, but we ac­knowl­edged we might have good rea­son to not travel to the U.S. for a while.

And this weekend we made the call. Our next girls’ weekend will be in Canada. And while I get that it’s point­less to try to boy­cott the U.S. or to pun­ish busi­nesses of Amer­i­cans who do not sup­port Trump poli­cies, that gov­ern­ment’s re­cent ban on im­mi­grants and trav­ellers from pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries is ab­hor­rent. The rolling back of women’s re­pro­duc­tive rights, and the wall with Mex­ico are un­think­able. And the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­fusal to ac­knowl­edge the mur­der of six mil­lion Jews in its state­ment on In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Day, es­sen­tially align­ing it­self with Holo­caust de­niers ev­ery­where, is pretty much what I’ve been taught to fear my whole life.

Sixty-three mil­lion peo­ple voted for Trump. So while I’m heart­ened that the protests against his re­cent ex­ec­u­tive or­ders have been swift, loud and an­gry, I keep go­ing back to that num­ber: 63 mil­lion. He is do­ing ex­actly what he said he would be do­ing (Holo­caust state­ment aside), and 63 mil­lion peo­ple said “okey doke” and gave him their vote. Nearly half the coun­try voted for a xeno­pho­bic, racist, misog­y­nist for what­ever rea­son they’ll ad­mit to pub­licly. And if I can do one tiny thing, make one small, squeaky state­ment, it’ll be to not give them my hard-earned va­ca­tion money. Even if it means giv­ing up Tar­get.

As a Jew, daugh­ter/grand­daugh­ter of Holo­caust sur­vivors, three mantras shaped my iden­tity: Never again, never for­get and those who were silent were as com­plicit as the per­pe­tra­tors them­selves. This is the lens through which I saw the world and no matter how much I try, I can’t shake it. Even to­day, even af­ter decades im­mersed in won­der­ful, gen­uine friend­ships with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and re­li­gions, I still find my­self oc­ca­sion­ally won­der­ing (despite my­self ) if this per­son or that would turn me over to the Nazis.

It doesn’t go away. It gets passed down, sub­con­sciously, from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. Ev­ery veiled and not-so-veiled anti-Semitic re­mark brings me back to it. And this weekend a chill went up my spine. It can hap­pen here. It is hap­pen­ing again, in a time and place we fooled our­selves into be­liev­ing was safe.

By not ac­knowl­edg­ing Jews in his In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Day state­ment, Trump and his ad­vis­ers would have us for­get. If we for­get, we won’t see him tear­ing open that al­ready deep di­vide be­tween im­mi­grants, the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and white Amer­ica. We won’t ac­knowl­edge that Mus­lims and im­mi­grants are be­ing scape­goated now the way Jews were back then.

Never for­get. Not to live in the past, as I’ve been ac­cused on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. Never for­get what evil lurks in the hearts of men, what pain an unchecked, power hun­gry nar­cis­sist can in­flict.

So un­til some­thing changes, I’ll do what I can, how­ever small. Re­sist. Be­cause we’re only one week in and we’ve got a long road ahead.

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