|Die Nachte: Max Beckmann 1919*|
Insofar as Politics is concerned this year...
...I will offer up a sample of the Max Beckmann painting above because it is a version of the America we are being promised by a certain candidate. Oh, he may say he is going to make it "Great" again, but I have heard that rhetoric before and it was used quite a bit in the place where the painting came from.
Half of my ancestry is German. My mother's father was German and my father (whom I have never met) was half German as well. This is important for me during this particular election because it means I carry that weight. What is that weight? That a supposedly civilized country allowed a narcissistic bully with one testicle and severe emotional problems to become its leader. For years afterward, the words Nazi and German were fairly synonymous. In the movies, German/Nazi villains were safe from the point of view of the screenwriter. I was often ashamed of my last name, even though it is Wendish in origin, going into that was not really an option in grade school. And what was the result of all that fear and self-loathing: the same sort that drives Americans to evidently support a fascist who says many of the same things?
It becomes the men invading the home in the Beckmann painting.
I have another part of me—the Latina part—that hears echoes of what the Nazis did to the Jews, the homosexuals, Roma, slavs, and developmentally disabled to name a few and she fears that the fascist dictator running for president—wrapped in the Red, White and Blue—will round up brown people like myself. Our stories, and our lives will be forfeit. Yes, there are other crimes of magnitude in other places, but few that I can think of that are consciously chosen, such as Hitler in 1932. What are we to make of the check-box next to the GOP candidate in the United States of 2016?
My Grandfather left Germany in the late 1930s because he knew there was war coming. After Kristallnacht, the family realized there was better work and better people elsewhere, so my grandfather left for work in a brewery in Mexico. He eventually eloped with mi abuela for Sacramento… but that is another story.
I simply ask for you to vote for a better world and not one of fear, brutality and bigotry. There is no 'greatness' to be found in a country ruled by terror and the promise of bread and circuses.
When I despair, I remember when I felt bad about being a Ludenow: part of a race that committed abominations. Grandfather would tell me about the other people who left Germany: the scientists, the artists, the musicians. These were the people who had made Germany great and gave the language and culture its dignity. I can still remember the Plattdeutsch accent in his Spanish:
"Aquellos que no podían salir murieron o se ocultó escondidos durante muchos años. Lo que quedaba no era un país ni siquiera una raza. Es por eso que perdieron la guerra. Eso es lo que sucede cuando estúpida, asustadas personas venden su alma al diablo. Ada, tienes que ayudar a la gente a aprender, pensar, y amar. Eso es lo que va a encontrar en la música de Bach. Y lo que se ve en el mundo es lo que llevas en tu corazón".
*Max Beckmann: Die Nachte Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Max Beckmann was one of many "Entartete Kunstlers" or "Degenerate Artists" who were forced to leave Germany when Adolt Hitler came to power.