Friday, May 27, 2011

The American Devolution

by Tom Kando

A hot debate in California at this time is whether or not to build the high-speed rail. Voters approved $10 billion for this in 2008, the Obama administration has appropriated nearly $3 billion, and California will receive several more billion reallocated to our State, after Florida, Michigan and some other states declined to participate and returned their share to the Feds (speaking of cutting your nose to spite your face!). The total cost, though, will run at least $45 billion.

So this brings up, again, the fundamental issue of the day: are public projects and the public sector good or bad?

There is now a second American Revolution going on. It’s actually an American Devolution. All the arguments for and against California’s High-speed rail can be generalized to other public projects and to the entire public sector.

There is today in this country, at all levels, a push to dismantle a century of social democracy, and its funding. From progressive taxation to Medicare and Social Security, from State and local parks to libraries, pubic transportation and public education.

The excuse for this has been the country’s indebtedness, mixed with a tinge of demographics: We know that our aging population increases the dependent sector while decreasing the productive sector. Each year, fewer working tax-payers must support more retirees and elderly. The conclusion drawn by the rich, the Republicans and the rest of the brainwashed population is that we must therefore dismantle the welfare state.

In the 1930s, when the country was in trouble, FDR responded with a glorious New Deal and magnificent public projects such as the TVA and the Hoover Dam. There was an elan of social awareness and collective action. Today, the response is the opposite.

Elsewhere in the Western World, the right-ward trend (which is what this is) exists, but it is much weaker. This, despite the fact that (1) their populations are aging more rapidly than ours, (2) their deficits often exceed ours (Japan’s is over 200% of GDP!) and (3) their public services and infrastructure are superior to ours. For example, California has been debating high-speed train service for 16 years, while France, Germany, Japan and even Poland have HAD it for many decades.

The difference? More of that dreaded thing called “Socialism,” or, if you prefer, FDR’s New Deal approach.

Because you see, the choice is NOT the one which House Budget Chair Paul Ryan and the Tea Party want to impose on us: The Status Quo vs. Dismantling the Welfare State. The solution is NOT the privatization of Social Security, Medicare, schools, prisons, juvenile institutions, reducing the entire service sector to a for-profit nightmare.

The solution is to IMPROVE the existing system, through simple and yes, sometimes draconian measures such as raising Social Security and Medicare age significantly (after all, we live much longer now), raising SS and Medicare contributions significantly, and above all: making taxation much, much more equitable, as it was until a generation ago. To begin with, return to the pre-Bush era tax rates on corporations and on wealthy individuals. Where is it written that the Federal budget should not exceed 20% of GDP?

To claim that the welfare state is not sustainable is to be ignorant of history and of the foreign experience. Despite two catastrophic wars - an entirely different topic - the Europeans have maintained successful welfare states for centuries, as have Japan, Canada, Australia and others. And they are not about to dismantle them.

The alternative is a devolution comparable to that of the Roman Empire - where roads, schools, public safety, literacy and the quality of life gradually wither, like vines in the winter... leave comment here

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The History of Food Revealed

by Madeleine Kando

A 1999 BBC series on the origins of pornography inspired me to write a spoof. Rather than take sex as the subject however, I decided to replace it with food.

Before the 'Great Obesity Epidemic' of the late twenty-first century, when millions of people died from overeating, food and the consumption of food were a very inoffensive, daily activity that people engaged in without any shame or secrecy.

In previous decades it was customary to eat when one was hungry. There were even special places where groups of friends, husbands and wives, children and parents, sat together at a table and ate food, right in front of each other, there in public! These places were called 'restaurants'.

Before the 'Big OB-epidemic.', food was not considered taboo. But when more and more people became the victims of overeating, when women lost their ability to become pregnant and men became impotent, the government HAD to take steps to save our society from destroying itself.

Slowly, food consumption came to be seen as unnatural, something that was best practiced in secret.

Congress first passed the 'food obscenity' law, legislature that prohibited any kind of graphic display of food in public places. The second law prohibited parents from eating in front of their children. Many couples were denounced by their neighbors and faced severe prison sentences.

Soon, other laws followed: eating in public was deemed offensive and common decency required that any activity involving food consumption, talking about food and showing pictures of food be restricted to the privacy of one's home.

Believe it or not, but the expression 'May God curse you with a voracious appetite' did not exist before then. Other profanities, such as 'suck you' or 'eat cake' are fairly recent as well.

Black market trafficking of 'food-ography' (pictures of people eating together and other lurid depictions of food-related subjects) became a profitable business and people who could afford it joined secret societies where all manner of food perversion was the order of the day: strippers stepping out of giant cakes, food fights, movie showings of how food was produced and worst of all, members engaged in food orgies where they ate at nauseam and regurgitated their food in order to eat more.

As might be expected, all of this repression had the opposite effect of what was intended. Children who innocently walked to school were harassed by individuals who exposed themselves eating cake. The papers were full of articles about food voyeurs who had been caught in the act of looking at pictures of food. Some individuals developed severe cases of food fetishism for which they needed special psychiatric treatment. Virtual labs were developed where one could experience all the pleasures of eating without ingesting a crumb.

Soon there was so much censored, underground material available, on the internet, in chat rooms, on video, that people cut their workday short in order to secretly eat while watching movies about food.

People started to gain more weight than ever before. The simple pleasure of only eating when one was hungry had been lost, seemingly forever.

The Y.U.M. organization (Young, United and Mad) lobbied Congress to repeal the anti-food laws and eventually won. The circle was closed. Food slowly became a part of life again.

Some people still like to abuse food and occasionally succumb to the pleasure of eating in secret, but in general this period was a wake-up call for most of us. Who knows, maybe some day we will be able to let go of our inhibition and enjoy each other's company while eating in those quaint places called 'Restaurants'.

When tempted to eat in secret, repeat the mantra: ‘food is food is food is food..’ and don’t stop until the urge has passed. leave comment here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who is Guilty - Dominique Strauss-Kahn or American Criminal Justice?

By Tom Kando

Fresh back from vacation, I can’t resist weighing in on the fascinating debate triggered by Madeleine’s post “The DSK Affair.” Many good things were written on all sides. I am like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,”- “You are Right, and you are also Right.”

Synopsis: Madeleine’s starting salvo is eloquent and correct. No need for me to re-iterate that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is a pig if he is guilty.

But Csaba is also right - everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Steve is also right: this incident is another opportunity for the never-ending Anglo-Saxon - Gallic culture war to flare up again. Marc, too is right: there is too much trial by the press going on, and the legal lines (consensuality and statutory age distinctions are problematic).

Then, Madeleine and Marc begin an exchange about cultural relativity and sexual mores.

I am proud of the high quality of exchange found on our blog.

Let me add my two bits worth: First of all, it is important to remember that this is (also) a feminist issue. It is logical that Madeleine empathizes with the pain of Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim more than we men do.
And there is a second way in which Strauss-Kahn’s (largely French) apologists are being assholes: their claim that the French (journalists, etc.) are superior to Americans because they keep politics out of the bedroom, etc.

But then, just like Tevye, I also find myself in agreement with former Culture Minister Jack Lang, when he indicts the American Criminal Justice System for its cruelty. Here, I speak as an expert, having taught criminology for decades.

By some measures, the American Criminal Justice System is the most punitive on the planet. For example, we lock up nearly 800 people per 100,000 population. No other country comes even close to this, not China, not Iran, nobody. In Europe, they lock up between 50 (Denmark) and 80 (the UK) people per 100,000.
California today has 10 times more prisoners than when I moved here. The likelihood of a black male doing prison time during his life is over 50%. And a majority of prisoners are there for non-violent offenses such as drug possession and parole violation.

The obscenity is that this is driven by economics. It’s the Criminal Justice-Industrial Complex. It’s a job-creation program. The system must be fed. When I started teaching at Cal State, the budget for Higher Education was three times that of the Department of Corrections. Now it’s almost the other way around.
Increasingly, Republican state governments have succeeded in privatizing prisons and juvenile detention facilities. Prisons become for-profit businesses! But all of this is well known.

So part of the problem, basically, is that there is more panic about crime in America than elsewhere. And this at a time when crime has been in decline for many years!

Also, as some of you imply, there is more panic about sex in America than in France and elsewhere in Europe.

My advice to everybody: If you are going to f...up, better not do it in this country. We have the most unforgiving C.J. System. Remember Roman Polanski? He committed statutory rape 35 years ago, but there is no statute of limitation on such crimes, so the US authorities are still after him.

I have no problem when the high and the mighty fall. Billionaire white collar criminals, throw the book at them. Strauss-Kahn, if found guilty, throw the book at him.

At the same time, if I were a foreigner, I would be pretty afraid coming to America. You never know what sort of piling on and magnification could take place, even if you only mess up a tiny bit, say you have consenting sex with a 17.5 year old, or you are caught with a .9 blood alcohol content while moving your car in a parking lot, or you are caught with a joint in your pocket.

My advice to foreign visitors to our shores: be very prudent. Here, law enforcement and the judicial system are a crap shoot. leave comment here

Saturday, May 21, 2011


by Madeleine Kando

I just returned from The Netherlands, which usually causes me to go through ‘road-shock’. The roads are so unblemished over there that falling asleep at the wheel is the highest hazard of driving. I had gotten used to the smooth asphalt of the Dutch highways.

On my drive back home from Logan Airport it felt like our car had entered a giant pinball machine. We were dodging potholes and cracks left and right, while trying to maintain an appropriate speed. Many of the signs had pieces missing and the lettering had peeled off which makes it hard to know where you are. But when I saw the familiar ‘No -assing’ sign on Lexington Street I knew I was home.

I remember a time when the American highway system was the envy of the world. I used to watch Hollywood car-chase movies in my small Amsterdam apartment with areal views of the typical four-leaf clover and six-story highway exchanges. It was still a sight to behold, a symbol of what American engineering could accomplish.

Since then, American roads and byways have turned into one of this country's worst nightmares. Being rated number one in the 1960's, America now ranks 23rd in quality of road infrastructure, somewhere between Spain and Chile.

The question is why? Why is America's transportation system so bad? Doesn't the sheer size of the US call exactly for that kind of investment?

For the past 30 years America's roads and bridges have been left to rot while smarter nations have been building, improving and maintaining their roads, bridges and canals. Since the 1970’s America has gone from spending 5% of GDP on infrastructure to only 2.4%. China spends 9% of GDP.

Although we complain about gas prices being so high, Europeans pay much higher taxes on cars and gasoline. Funding for transportation projects comes from the European Investment Bank, a non-profit organization whose shareholders are the member states. This allows the different EU countries to get cheap loans for their projects. The Kerry/Hutchison plan tries to create a similar funding apparatus and hopefully will pass the house. But I am not hopeful. Simply put, Americans are not willing to pay for an improved road infrastructure.

Compared to many other nations, high-speed trains are practically non-existent in the United States. China, which is about the same size as the United States is spending $50 billion this year alone on a speed train system that will travel at 220 mph. Compare that to the $8 billion that Obama proposed which, of course, went nowhere. The current infrastructure would not even permit bullet trains to go at fast speeds over bridges and through tunnels that are currently in such need of repair.

Another very obvious reason why our infrastructure is crumbling is the way projects are run these days. It took a little more than one year to build the Empire State building and only four years to build the entire Golden Gate Bridge. Compare that to the little overpass over interstate 95 in Waltham which has been under consruction since 2004 and still isn't completed.

What happened to the America that I admire? The innovative and efficient nation that everybody else looked up to? Bickering continues in Washington and there is a clear lack of vision. Like an old woman sloshing around the house in her slippers and robe, America doesn’t bother to take care of herself any more. She lets herself go. Future generations be damned.

Some of this information is found in an article in the Economist of April 28th, 'Life in the Fast Lane'
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The DSK Affair

by Madeleine Kando

I have been following the recent 'DSK affair' with fascination. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested on charges of attempted rape of a hotel maid in his New York hotel, is now held without bail at the Riker's Island prison, nicknamed 'the tomb'.

The French are shocked at pictures showing Strauss-Kahn, handcuffed and unshaved, forced to take the 'perp walk', a tradition of making a suspect walk by a row of media cameras.

Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture and a good friend of Strauss-Kahn, is quoted as saying: 'The American Justice system is an inhuman system that crushes the individual that falls between its hands.' (translation is mine, sorry). And 'Nothing justifies a man being treated with such disdain and violence. Knowing the American justice system, it is not unimaginable that the judge is after smearing 'a Frenchman'.

Well, maybe French politicians could use a dose of healthy smearing. It's not like Strauss-Kahn is innocent of previous acts of sexual misconduct. For example, when Tristane Banon, a French journalist was allegedly sexually assaulted by him back in 2002, she wanted to file charges. But her own mother, Anne Mansouret, who is an important figure in the socialist movement, advised her NOT to. As a senior sociaiist figure she felt that Strauss-Kahn was too important and didn't want his name tarnished.

France, it seems, has very strong libel and privacy laws which allows public figures to reap the benefits of being public without bearing the consequences of misbehaving privately. In other words the French like to have their cake and eat it too.

It sounds like they are still stuck with their old, aristocratic moral code. The rooster is still king in the chicken coop. But the American justice system doesn't go for that kind of preferential treatment. Rich or poor, famous or obscure, it makes no difference.

Strauss-Kahn sounds like an arrogant, oversexed individual at best and a sexual predator at worst. He didn't suddenly become that way in a New York hotel. He is 62 years old. All this time the French must have ignored that side of him, all in the name of their 'don't ask don't tell' philosophy. What does that say about the French?

They are fond of making fun of America's puritan attitude towards sexual misconduct. But when it comes to allegations of attempted rape, it's a different story. They might not agree with the treatment that Strauss-Kahn has undergone, but hopefully they are as shocked as I am at this man's behavior. leave comment here

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Taste of Emergency Health Care in Holland

by Madeleine Kando

I went to see my ninety-eight year-old mother-in-law in Holland last week. She lives in a small community called Mierlo where I usually drive around in circles for the good part of an hour trying to find her house in an endless maze of identical looking villas. While my Dutch sister-in-law, Lise and I were shopping for dinner, her cell phone rang. It was 'Oma' who said that she had just fallen and hurt her arm. Lise was quite calm about it, asked her if it was serious and that we were coming back to see.

Oma was in a chair holding her right arm which she had wrapped in a towel. A large piece of skin had been scraped off when she fell and her arm looked like a raw, bloody piece of sirloin. Lise immediately called the local hospital. Since the emergency room there was closing at five (the Dutch are very particular about not working after five), they referred her to the hospital in the next town over, which was only a ten-minute drive. (that's the nice part about Holland, it’s so small that everything is pretty much accessible, like on the Little Prince's planet.).

She made an appointment for us to arrive there at six. This is was the first of many surprises in the Dutch 'emergency health care' system. You don't just rush to the emergency room unannounced. You call, tell them what time you will be coming and there will be someone there to expect you.

We drove to Geldrop, parked the car in the 'emergency room' parking lot and walked in. We waited about twenty minutes and a tall, young and very handsome doctor came out. We all followed him into the treatment room like little ducklings following the daddy duck. He had a trainee in there that was just as young, tall and handsome. It made me doubt my previously held opinion that Dutch men aren't the best looking breed in the world. Maybe Dutch medical schools screen for looks as well?

Anyway, he was incredibly charming, efficient and had none of the pedantic style that often comes with the territory. I was so impressed with the whole thing, I was just standing there in the corner, my mouth gaping. After he cleaned out the wound, I watched him put back the hanging flaps of skin with a small pair of tweezers, which an attending nurse had pulled out of the drawer. He neatly covered the raw piece of meat and explained that skin makes for a perfect band-aid. He didn't use penicillin, shots, ointments, disinfectant... nothing. He covered the whole area with two pieces of non-stick gauze, wrapped Oma's arm neatly with regular gauze and taped it together with what looked like scotch tape.

I couldn't help myself. I had to ask him about the penicillin. He was very clear on that subject. No, he would not use penicillin, even if it got infected (which he said it might), because he had very rarely seen this kind of wound become 'gangrenous'. (I guess they only use penicillin as a last resort here).

That was it. No fuss, no extra wrapping, no face masks, no medication..

He gave some instructions on how to take care of the wound: Oma's caregiver who comes to visit her every morning to keep an eye on her, (compliments of her socialized medicine health insurance package), should change the bandage every day and her primary care physician should make a house call twice a week (a house call!). He reassured her that she would grow new skin over the next three weeks or so.

'Good-bye', he said, as he politely shook our hand one by one. And off he went to his next heroic life-saving case. I could see the emerging traces of a permanent frown on his young handsome face, probably carved there by the many terrible things he had already witnessed in his young doctor's career.

Well, I don't know about you, but it seems to me that Holland is one of the best places to injure yourself and end up in the emergency room. The emergency care in this small Dutch community is far above average and the doctors on-call look like they were cut out of a fashion magazine. I wonder how many of their female patients fall on purpose just to be able to come and undergo their treatment?leave comment here

Friday, May 6, 2011

Talking Houses and Now History

by Marc Hersch

I was prompted to write the following post (originally a comment) by Madeleine Kando’s very evocative, bittersweet essay, “If Houses Could Speak…“ I think her post resonated for me in part, because in 2004, I too visited Amsterdam, Holland during a long layover between the Canary Islands and San Francisco. While there, I took the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank house and stroll the neighborhood. Madeleine’s post put into words a feeling I had back then. Some houses can speak.

I was born in 1947, an “American Jew”, which is to say that my family was very assimilated. My religious training wouldn't fill a thimble. The central tenet of my Jewishness consists of something my mother told me at a very tender age.

She said, "It doesn't matter if you feel like a Jew or think like a Jew or believe like a Jew. All that matters is that there are people in the world who will classify you as a Jew, and when they come for you, there is nothing you can say or do that will keep them from doing to you what they think they should do to Jews."

To be raised an atheist or agnostic, I don't know which, but be born a Jew in the still-simmering melting pot of post-WWII America, was to come of age in a kind of limbo---belonging and not belonging at the same time. As a child, the storied events of WWII were distant history to me. As sure as the sun rose each day, the storied horrors of the past could never be repeated in our enlightened age, and occasional shouts of "Jew boy" not withstanding, reason would rule the world forever and ever.

Distant-history became near-history when, soon after graduating college in 1970, I set out to travel the world. I spent my first year afoot in Europe, just another backpacking American hippie abroad.

I first encountered real Jew hatred during a frightening meeting with the police in Switzerland. They rousted me for sleeping on a bench and when I tried to explain, they shouted, “Shut up you dirty Jew!”;

In Bavaria, where I lived and worked for some time, not far from Munich and only a short time before the massacre of the Israeli athletes, I first saw the Nazi flag displayed on the walls of some small town beer halls filled with boisterously singing Germans. One time a burly German grabbed me by my shirt, spraying me with spittle as he shouted, "You MUST speak German."

I stayed for some time with a very kind family in the university town of Freiburg im Breisgau and worked at a local factory. The patriarch of the house, a one-eyed veteran of the war, was fond of saying after a few beers, "Hitler vas bad but ze var vas goot!"

Did he know I was a born Jew? I never brought the subject up.

My travels throughout Europe consisted mainly of meeting wonderful people and having delightful experiences, but my rare encounters with anti-Semitism and the vastly more ubiquitous post-WWII guilt, transformed distant-history into near-history. Paradoxically, it seemed to me, the passing of time had brought the past nearer to the present.

When I traveled the following year in the Middle East and Asia I realized that in Europe, and pretty much Europe alone, the Christian myth of the Jew as "other" is deeply rooted---more than a thousand years deep---and generally speaking (which is how we sociologists tend to speak) the peoples of Europe have little or no choice in the matter of Jews. The mythical Jew—the “other”--- is cemented into the foundation of their consciousness. They can no more will it away than give up their abiding taste for copious amounts of beer and wine.

Last year I read the recently published "The Third Reich at War" by Richard Evans. In it he gives a meticulous accounting of the disposition of European Jews during WWII. Most disturbing was that, despite some admirable exceptions, all of the nations of Europe, without exception, were complicitous when it came to ridding themselves of “their Jews” and confiscating Jewish property.

A month ago I visited friends in Israel and France and what had become near-history during my travels years ago, became now-history. As is common knowledge, liberal Europe on the whole, and France in particular, have become deeply critical of Israel. The Jews cast out from Europe were never, as the popular European story now goes, rabid ideological Zionists seeking hegemony over Palestine. They were the remnants of European Jewry who had nowhere else to go. Although Israel was granted legitimacy by the Europeans in 1948, the reality is that those who sought refuge in that faraway land found solace only in shared purpose--to survive. But their battle to survive has raged on unabated.

It seems that now-history remains in practice, the same as near-history and distant-history. The deeply rooted Christian myth of the Jew as "other" abides. The Jew continues to be seen as a secret aggressor, possessed of magical powers out of all proportion to his numbers, and he continues to work wherever he is, to undermine God's good and true natural order.

The Arab-Islamic world, in which anti-Semitism is virtually non-existent, has a very different axe to grind but has learned to use the European myth of the "other" to great advantage as they press forward with their grievances.

Like many people who have lived more than half a century, Marc Hersch’s life experiences are many and varied. Years ago he worked in the fields picking beans, in steel mills as a ladleman and in oil fields as a sandblaster. He studied the Sociology of Education at university, taught in public schools, and worked for years as a consultant to various organizations. As a youth he traveled around much of the planet with a pack on his back, mostly chasing girls. Later in life he raised a family, did what families do, and spent six years sailing with them half-way round the world and back again. He currently calls Santa Cruz, California, home as he has for 30 years. As he looks back on it all he’s not sure what to call himself at this point in the game, other than human being. Suggestions, so long as they are civil, are always welcome. Marc’s blog can be found at:
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Obama Trumps Osama

By Tom Kando

Is this a good title or what? My wife came up with it.

Lately, the news has been coming fast and furious. The most prominent recent issues have been demographic: Kate and William (marriage), President Obama (birth) and Osama Bin Laden (death).

Here is my take on the British Royal wedding: it was real nice. How is that, for excellent political analysis?

As to the other two issues mentioned, it is also difficult to make any meaningful comments about them at this point, since just about everything has already been said over the past week or so. Just this, maybe:

If Houses Could Speak..

by Madeleine Kando

I went down memory lane again during my most recent visit to Amsterdam. I like to stroll down the old familiar streets, inhaling the smell of a cosmopolitan city and generally enjoying my brief visit to the town I grew up in.

My favorite pass-time is to walk through the old neighborhood, peek through the windows of the house I used to live in. I like that ritual. This time, however, my visit took on an added dimension. This time I got caught up in the city-wide effort to honor the Jews who were taken from their homes by the Nazis.

So here I was, together with my Dutch friend Edith who lost her entire family in the holocaust. She took me by the hand on this incredible journey, like a good teacher does with a student and we followed the trail of the thousands of Jews who were taken from their homes and herded to the Station to be shoved onto the cattle trains that were going to the concentration camps.

We first went to the house where her parents met and fell in love. It was one of those amazingly quiet side-streets that makes you wonder where the city has disappeared to, together with all the traffic noise. We looked up at the windows where her mother and four aunts had lived. Her aunts were taken from that house and sent to Auschwitz. We rang the bell but there was no-one at home. What did the aunts feel when a Nazi soldier rang this same bell on an equally quiet day in 1942? Did they know what was in store for them? We continued on to our next stop, the Achtergracht.

It’s a cute ginger bread-like house with only one room on each floor. As I stand there I realize that the house speaks silently to me of all the tragedies that it has witnessed, the many lives that it has harbored, one of which was mine as a young girl. The paper in my hand says that a ‘Mozes Frank’ lived here. He was married to Eva Frank. He was taken from this house by the Nazi's in 1942.

Did he sleep in my old room? Did he wake up and look out, like I did onto the barges where men covered with soot were carrying off sacks filled with coal? Did he walk on the cold wooden floor to the little bathroom and had to sit sideways because the space was so small? Did he go down the three flights of steep stairs to make coffee in the tiny little kitchen? Why was he taken from this amazing house instead of me? What if I had lived there in 1942 instead of him? Why wasn't I born yet and he was?

Tomorrow, on May 4th, thousands of Amsterdam residents will put a poster in their window to mark their house if a former Jewish resident was arrested or deported to Nazi death camps during World War II.

This poster idea is the initiative of Frits Rijksbaron, a marketing executive who hopes to remind Amsterdam's citizens how different Amsterdam would have been had 61,700 Jews not been removed from their city.

More than seventy percent of Dutch Jews were killed by the Nazis. Children, babies, grandmothers, fathers and mothers. I am on the Dutch ‘Jewish Homes’ website staring at the list of thousands of addresses. Every address has one, two, five names.. All gone, wiped out, removed. The sheer number boggles the mind. It’s true that Holland deported the highest proportion of Jews of all of Nazi-occupied Western European countries. The Dutch are still trying to figure out how that happened.

Now I am back in Boston, writing and watching the morning break outside my window. My little ranch house here in Boston doesn’t have that much of a history. It is ignorant of so much suffering. Too young and unbranded. It might not make it to a ripe old age anyway because, unlike my house on the Achtergracht, it wasn’t built to last. But if houses could speak I am sure everyone of them would want to tell a story. leave comment here