Holocaust Memorial Day - The black triangle
At our HMD event last night, we had 4 incredible speakers, one of whom, Dani Neumann, is a member of the congregation struggling to be awarded disability living allowance and facing constant challenges and hurdles to live on ELA. She spoke incredibly movingly, and has agreed to let me share her words. The sign of the Black Triangle was reserved by the Nazis for 'anti-socials' which as you will see below, included those with disabilities.
THE COMMON ENEMY
The broadway producer Stephen Schwartz once said"the best way to unite a people is to give them a common enemy"
Sad but true. It is never the real enemy but always anunder represented group- a minority.
And not just a minority but a vulnerable one. Why?Because they are less likely to fight back.
The Nazis began their campaign against disabled peopleby convincing the Germans of their economic drain
It is very mucheconomics that are driving current cuts and the campaign is leading to a risein hate crimes against disabled. We are called benefit scroungers, Spat at onin the street and- in the case of one of my friends- tipped out of hiswheelchair by thugs when he was just sitting in the pub having a drink
I am going to read out a list of statements
-These people are costing too much money. We cannotafford for them to be alive. Something has to be done
-They are nothing but a drain on recourses' this is whythere is less for you.
-These people must have done something to disserve it.Its there own fault
-we should be able to pay them less- I mean they areworth less
-Why should they have a choice what they do? They shouldbe thankful we are giving them a job
-Look you see here’s an example of one of those people-didn't we tell you they are all like that the whole group nothing but crocks.
I am sure we can all agree that we find these kind ofstatements disgusting, ignorant, presumptuous not to mention prejudice.
This is what they used to say about the Jews, Blackpeople, women, Gay people. In fact any one of these statements could have beenabout any one of these groups at one time or the other. Thank god that kind ofthing doesn't happen today. Right?
Only it does and is happening today.
What? No way notin
!We would never let that sort of thing happen to anyone in our countryespecially a vulnerable group of people Britain
Let me ask you a question
How many times in the news in the last say year have youseen story's about "benefit cheats" headlines like 75% of people onthe sick fit for work. Benefitscroungers living in million pound houses at the expense of the tax payer andso on...
The government’s welfare reform is happening not becausethis propaganda is true but because it needs to save money.
Rather than force tax invading banks and corporations topay what they owe they are working hard, and have at large succeeded, inconvincing the country that the resection has been caused by the benefits paidout to the sick and disabled.
The truth is most people with disability who are capableof working already are.
But the ones who cant are being used as the new popularcommon enemy.
They are being forced to have humiliating and inhumanassessments that are ,by the governments own admission not fit for purpose,flawed and that are performed not by unbiased doctors who rely on medicalevidence but by privet companies who's staff are given bonuses for every sick person they find fit for work.
Here are some facts
-only 0.5% ofdisability benefit claims are fraudulent.
-70% of those found fit to work by the new welfare reformassessments are later after a long and stressful appeal found to be unfit for work and awarded therebenefit.
-The appeals have cost the
tax payer £80million in the lastyear alone UK
-Whilst waiting months and in most case's years forassessments and appeals the disabled of the
are forced to live under povertyline. Suffering the humiliation of having to ask and really on charities tocover basic things like food, heating and housing. UK
-And are subjectedto abuse and random unprovoked acts of violence in public by complete strangers
But surely once a person has won there appeal they areleft alone in peace to live there life right?
They are recalled a few months later to be given anotherassessment and start the whole assessment , appeal , award cycle again.
How do I know this is true. Well because of thegovernments own published statistics and reports. But also because (and I am nolonger to embarrassed, to proud or to ashamed to admit it)
I am one of thosepeople.
The Nazi campaignstarted by targeting not the Jews but disabled people. They where quietlygassed in the first experiments with Zyklon B, these people were comparativelylow in numbers, were less likely to be missed, could not speak up forthemselves, and had no-one to speak up for them.
Then after a large propaganda campaign that tapped intothe populations anger about the country economic state ,the murder of millions begun
long standing prejudice's like.......
"they thinkthe world owes them something",
"They are a drain on the country's limitedresources"
" they do not work so they are worthless"
"It would bekinder not to mention cheaper to kill them, preferably at birth"
......Are stomach turning yet they are statements I hearfrom people and politicians every day. Maybe not put quite as frankly orbluntly as that but the underlining argument and sentiment is the same.
We are reminded to day that if you do not speak outagainst injustice, when you value a person only by how much they contribute toa community economically, Human life is cheeped.
We are taught as Jews to remember the horrors of theholocaust. But why is it so important to remember? Because if we do not we aredestined to repeat those horrors again and again.
I hope and pray that when we see the warning sighs ,recognize the same patterns that are there time and time again through out thehistory of human rights atrocities that we will stand up with our fellow humanbeings and fight against the mob rather than become part of it.
Let us, as Hilary Clinton put it in a recent speech tothe UN about LGBT human rights, always be on the right side and not the wrongside of history.