We must now make a decision. Until now, the phrase, “Never again,” has been applied to the Holocaust as an affirmation that we must, collectively, make a binding resolution that no one will ever be rounded up and exterminated for what they are, and for no other reason. However, that has been called into question in Chechnya, where gay Chechnians are being rounded up, imprisoned, tortured and executed right now, even now as I write this article.
So what was “Never again” all about, anyway? Does it really mean, “No more Jews,” or does it mean that our civilized society, as we call ourselves, will no longer tolerate human rights abuses on this level?
I could tell you some stories that I have read and heard so far about what is going on in Chechnya. I will content myself to say that their president is telling the world that the gay problem is going to be resolved by the end of this month. That is to say, all the LGBT people that the government can round up ought to be dead by then.
I confess: my title was a rhetorical question. This is not okay. I am asking—I am pleading and imploring—that the people of New York City will take to the streets if they have not done so already. Chechnya does not have embassies or consulates that we can protest all over the United States, as some nations do. We need hundreds of New Yorkers with signs, hundreds of them circling the United Nations building every day and night.
For the rest of us, first we need to catch up on the news stories and find out what the situation is. Then we all need to make donations to the Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization that is helping LGBT citizens escape from Chechnya. Just type the name into your search engine, click, go there and donate. Finally, remember the old poem by Reverend Niemoller: when they came for other people I did not speak out, and then one day they came for me and there was no one to speak for me.
This has to stop.