Auschwitz’s 70th anniversary … and anti-Semitism continuesBottom Highlights, Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest Thursday, January 29th, 2015
Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest
This is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous death camp of Auschwitz in Poland.
The Holocaust, which resulted in the torture and murder of over 6 million Jewish people during World War II. You would think that the world and all people would have learned from history and this horrific crime against humanity. But sadly, we haven’t. Polls and surveys show that many people even doubt the Holocaust ever happened; and many young people remain ignorant and know nothing about this ugly dark chapter in our world’s history.
But most disturbing of all is that anti-Semitism continues to grow around the world and is alive and well in the United States.
The reality is that anti-Semites, radical extremists and religious fanatics are provoking hate crimes and, yes, murder every day.
Right now on the Internet there are growing anti-Semitic and hating organizations, and even some Facebook pages identify Jews and their geographic locations with the intention and support for attacks on them (the recent massacre of Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris). There is even an organized growing effort to banish all Jews from Europe and continuing attacks on Israel with stated goals of destroying this country and its people.
But don’t even think that the United States is immune to all this growing anti-Semitism. Just in 2012 nearly two-thirds of religion- driven hate crimes targeted Jewish Americans, their synagogues and organizations.
As a past member and chair of the City’s Human Relations Commission (the first openly gay elected chairman), many times I witnessed first-hand hate crimes against our Jewish community throughout San Diego County. I personally know that many of our local synagogues and Jewish schools have had to increase their security. Faulting the Jewish people has once again become the rallying cry of haters and murderers.
Schindler’s List was much more than just an Academy Award winning movie, it was true history.
All people and communities are responsible for teaching our young students etc., about the Holocaust.
Personally, I have been blessed to have good friends like Bruce Abrams, Rabbi Laurie Coskey and many more who have educated and taught me in San Diego much about Jewish history and its people, religion and community. Let us never ever forget.
Peter Chacon’s memorial
This past Saturday my good friend Susan Jester (founder AIDS Walk San Diego) picked me up to take me to former State Assemblyman Peter Chacon’s memorial and celebration of his life.
Hundreds and hundreds of people showed up to this memorial including almost every major Latino leader. It was a two-hour tribute that left many of us in tears, laughter and pride.
Pete’s four sons presided over their father’s memorial and did him and his legacy and community proud.
This is indeed a most loving family whose concern and compassion for all those living below the poverty level is real and genuine.
Pete Chacon served from 1970 till 1992 in the California State Assembly, being only the second Latino elected in California. He joined the Army Air Forces at age 18 and while in the service flew 35 successful missions over Germany during World War II. Chacon was a school teacher and administrator before entering public service. Pete Chacon is indeed the “Father of Bilingual Education”.
In the 1970s, Pete Chacon became one of the first elected officials in the state to come out for “homosexual civil rights” and was a leader in those early dark years against AIDS.
I had the honor of becoming a friend and working with him on many issues and projects.
Among the official speakers at the memorial were State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Latino pioneer activist and leader David Valladolid who both mentioned Pete’s leadership on GLBT civil rights and AIDS.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez also spoke about these two legacies of Pete’s in our state capitol.
It was nice seeing so many longtime friends. I had great conversations with Lorena, David, Congressman Juan Vargas, County Treasurer Dan McAllister and so many others.
Peter Chacon was a personal hero of mine and I will always cherish his memory and our times working together. Rest in peace my friend.
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