“I escaped the Nazis once. You will not defeat me now.” Marianne Rubin held a sign with these words as she joined protests against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The eighty-nine-year-old New York resident survived the Holocaust. Now she’s standing up to Nazis again. Her interview is making global headlines this morning.
The tragedy began when one hundred white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus Friday night. They carried torches, chanted Nazi slogans like “Sieg Heil,” and greeted each other with the Nazi salute.
The next day, when counter-protesters responded to their hatred, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into them, killing one and injuring nineteen others. Two state troopers monitoring the white supremacist rally were killed when their helicopter crashed.
Is this tragedy an isolated incident?
The third largest political party in Greece is led by a man who describes Hitler as a “great personality.” A Scandinavian group called the Nordic Resistance Movement praises Hitler in publications. Neo-Nazi activities in Europe have doubled in recent years.
More than half of the Jews living in France and Sweden avoid wearing or displaying things that would cause others to recognize them as Jews, fearing violent attacks. Britain saw a 62 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents last year.
One hundred headstones were toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia last February. This is the city where America’s Declaration of Independence was adopted along with its famous assertion that “all men are created equal.” Attacks on Jews in America have risen 86 percent this year.
What are we to think of the resurgence of Nazism and white supremacy in these days?
Let us be clear: God forbids every kind of discrimination and prejudice. His word declares, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We are commanded to love each other as Jesus loves us (John 13:34).
Every person you meet today is someone worthy of dignity and respect. Even if you disagree with their lifestyle, you should see them as God does—a person made in his image (Genesis 1:27). For instance, I have made clear my belief that same-sex marriage is unbiblical. But I have also made clear the fact that God loves gay people and calls us to do the same.
Speaking to the NAACP in 1981, Ronald Reagan addressed “a disturbing reoccurrence of bigotry and violence” in America perpetrated by “groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice.” His message to them: “You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America.”
President Reagan then predicted that “this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct.” Will we prove him right?
NOTE: Today’s topic is so significant that I have written a companion website article, Hitler’s Lies: Responding to Nazism Today. In this essay, we explore Hitler’s ideology, reasons for the popularity of Nazism today, and three biblical responses. I invite you to read the paper here.