Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Roscoe Bartlett

Dear Representative Bartlett,

A couple of hours from the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, I am writing to you to discuss your comments from a couple of weeks ago when you argued that advocating for federally-funded student loans leads down a slippery slope to the Holocaust. I happen to disagree with your assertion that student loans issued by the federal government is unconstitutional. The founders did not address this issue, so it's open to interpretation. I am offended by your insinuation that my position would lead down a slippery slope to the Holocaust. Though we disagree, I do not believe your position is reminiscent of the Nazis or the Khmer Rouge. I would hope you'd feel the same way.

But I'm far more than offended. I am deeply hurt. Two of my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. I have heard many offensive comments about the Holocaust, but yours has had a greater impact than most. That might be due to the fact that I am now a voter in the sixth district, so you represent me in Congress.

Today, I visited my dad's grave. In the cemetery, there is a memorial to the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah. I was overcome by a rare spark of emotion standing beside the memorial and thinking about your comments. I wish you could have seen the tears rolling down my cheeks as I thought about your use of my family's misery to score cheap political points. I wish you could have seen the pain in my late grandmother's eyes. She and my grandfather endured torture that you could not fathom. Their families were tortured, dehumanized, and murdered in the Holocaust. It did not begin with them receiving federally-funded student loans from the invading Nazis.

You clearly are either ignorant of the true horror of the Holocaust or are a malicious person. I prefer to believe the former. Might I suggest reading Elie Wiesel's Night, Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, and Leo Bretholz's Leap into Darkness. After you read their accounts, I find it hard to imagine that you'll ever bandy about the memory of the Holocaust in such a callously frivolous manner.

In the wake of your abhorrent comments, I believe you should resign. It would be the decent thing to do. But I'm aware that decency has no place in American politics, where power and party rule. So I ask that you learn about the Holocaust. Be more sensitive and understanding when discussing political positions with which you disagree. I hope your honor is more important to you than your career.


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