Antisemitism is a Tool of Tyrants

Antisemitism is a Tool of Tyrants

My project involves extensive research on Jewish life in Europe between WWI and WII. One thing is clear: antisemitism is a tool of tyrants used to deflect attention from their abuse of power. Stereotypes that depict Jews negatively and manufactured theories about a “Jewish conspiracy” turn attention away from the true oppressors.

It also helps animate prejudice and violence against all marginalized groups. Nazi symbols are shorthand for hate against the other. Tyrants and their supporters use the images and language of white supremacy and antisemitism to keep the powerful in power.

In death camps and in the bloodlands of Europe, Nazis industrialized the murder of homosexuals, Roma, the mentally and physically disabled, and political dissenters, as well as Jews. Oppression of one group always extends to other vulnerable groups.

I stand with everyone grieving politically-driven emotional and physical violence. The atrocities of our times activate traumatic ancestral memories, as well as painful memories of abuse from our own lifetimes. The grief is deep, rooted in centuries-old cruelty that is extending its reach into the now.

The grief is profound and the anger is righteous. Over a year ago, I was told by many not to be angry at the heinous display of hate in Charlottesville. I was told I was being “just like them.” This was a profound misunderstanding and minimization of the truths of history. It is also cowardly. You do not indulge Nazis and white supremacists under any circumstance. To stand up to them is to stand for empathy, decency, and humanity.

Oppression is not just something that happens to “them.” It’s happening here, to our fellow human beings. As uncomfortable as it may be, we must all face the horror of hate. No one is exempt from this responsibility. No matter how seemingly small the effort, we must stand against hate and stand up for one another.

Remember this in your social and family interactions. Remember this in your political choices. Remember this in your art. There are many ways to act righteously and fight for a kind and just society.


  1. Valerie Heatter on November 2, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    These are scary times, but I stand against hate. Thank you for your writing and your art.

    • Johannah Knudson on November 2, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you, Valerie!

  2. Rachael Dhakal on November 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Thank you Johanna. I often read but have never commented, but felt compelled to this time. ❤️

    • Johannah Knudson on November 3, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you, Rachael, for reading and for your support!

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My Great Uncle Stefan
My Great Uncle Stefan