When Germany invaded, my great-grandmother insisted, we stay. Her Jewish friends panicked, fled, but she said, no, it won’t happen here. Then the soldiers moved them to the ghetto. A wealthy friend offered my family safe passage out, but my great-grandmother said: No. We stay.
As a Jew in America, I was raised to believe two rather contradictory things: The United States is safe for us, and our world can descend into bigoted violence at any moment. I held these two beliefs in my head at once as Donald Trump was declared president-elect in the early hours of Wednesday morning. On the one hand, America remains, for now, a liberal democracy with civil liberties and checks and balances. On the other hand, those liberties and checks appear to be fading fast.
I am scared. I have never been scared like this before. What do we do? This is not like anything we’ve lived through before. We are being pulled farther and farther out to sea by the riptide of history. The shore is receding. Do we fight the current? Or do we let it draw us out into the ocean, recognizing that there’s no use in fighting something beyond our control?