I don’t forget.

TW for a laundry list of Holocaust references, nothing graphic.

This is going to be quick and dirty, because I don’t have time for links or images. I have other things I’m supposed to be doing with this day. If you’ve read my Twitter feed today, a lot of this is going to sound familiar.

We wanted Steve Rogers to be bi, and Marvel gave us a Nazi. His unofficial tagline is “The Bisexual America Deserves,” and now, whoopsie, he’s a sleeper agent! For a neo-Nazi organization!

Are these two things related, do you think? Is this punishment for something, on some level? Swear to god, if he kisses a man at any point in this run, it will be such blatantly offensive queer-coding. Because obviously, queer people are always evil. Obviously, you are only allowed to be queer if you are already beyond the pale. Like being, for example, a Nazi. (Who weren’t so crazy about the queers, if I recall correctly, and you bet your ass I do.)

Look, this is a longer post for a different day, but I have always thought that Steve and Bucky are Jewish-coded and queer-coded. I believe in that, and as a queer Jewish woman, it brings me much joy. So, yes, this is a problem for me. It’s a huge problem for me. One of the first things he ever did was punch Hitler in the face. He’s the quintessential power fantasy, the Ubermensch, but for the good guys. (Spoiler alert: the Americans are supposed to be the good guys in this fantasy.) He was created by two Jewish men in 1941. He’s supposed to be hope. He’s supposed to be the best ideals we’ve got. He’s the son of immigrants, for god’s sake. He grew up in Brooklyn. The qualities in his heart even though he wasn’t as strong as the other guys, even though he was skinny and bullied and asthmatic and drew comics that made him capable of being Captain America.

But whether you sign on for my Jewish and or queer reads of them or not, can we at least agree it is specious and wrong to make Steve Rogers, LITERAL CAPTAIN AMERICA, even temporarily struggle with whether LITERAL NAZIS make some GOOD POINTS? It’s insulting. It’s dangerous, in the current social and political climate. It’s dangerous to ME.

Marvel, you do remember what the Nazis stand for, right? You do know why they’re the worst bad guys you can come up with in the modern Western canon, right? You remember?

I remember. I remember a lot of things. Not because I was there. Because I hear the stories. Because stories matter. Stories about packed train cars and smokestacks, stories about being separated from your family, never to see them again. Stories about death, starvation, rape, “medical experimentation.” Purple triangles. Yellow stars. Stories about the people in power wanting me dead. About how that can always happen again, and we have to watch for it, we have to be ready, because it could happen again.

Steve Rogers is not supposed to, even for a minute, believe in those things. Steve Rogers is not supposed to make me afraid.

So no, I am not going to be here for Steve Rogers grappling with what Jews managed, through vicious, vicious difficulty, to have accepted as universal evil. With antisemitism on the rise again against Muslims and Jews, and violence against LGBTQ+ people, I do not have one second of patience, one moment of sympathy, for this. Do it with some other character. Do it with someone who doesn’t wear the stars and stripes. Or don’t do it at all. Give us an enemy to fight, how about a blowhard billionaire who wants to be president? That could be compelling. And topical.

I’m learning more dark things about what really goes on in my country, what people are really willing to believe, than I ever wanted to know. Than I ever thought remained. I was naive, and I was wrong. But that’s why I loved Captain America. That’s why Steve matters to me. Because he’s on my side. He punched Hitler in the face in, what, 1941? Before America even officially entered the war?

Why do you think he did that, Marvel? What do you think he was responding to?

Right now he looks a little bit too much like who you are. Not me. No. Steve Rogers, currently, even for a second, believes I am subhuman. You did that, Marvel. You sat around and decided to do that.

This is awful. This is awful, and upsetting, and I have other things to do today.

Passover, Family, and Time

I don’t make a big deal out of being Jewish. I try to underplay it most of the time. For one thing, I am not observant in any way, so it’s a cultural thing at most. I do not like jokes about Hitler, the Nazis, genocide, or gas chambers, but I like to think I would find them tasteless and disturbing anyway. I like Jewish folk music, and klezmer, and Torah scrolls send a bolt of pure delight into my heart for their artistry and the fact of them, but that’s about the extent of my obvious Jewishness. More deeply, I have a commitment to knowledge and a love of wordplay, and I can’t claim those as strictly Jewish traits, though there is a correlation.

Tonight is the first night of Passover, and for the last few weeks, I haven’t wanted to celebrate it. Part of it might be laziness, and part of it might be discomfort. Our long suffering and non-Jewish correspondent is coming, and I think I might feel a little awkward about showing him what all of this means to me. Because it does mean something to me, as much as I do not like the effects of organized religion, as angry as I am sometimes. It’s part of who I am. It’s tradition. It’s the ritual that reminds me who I am, and where I come from.

At the center of all this, I don’t want to break the chain. I always felt like, if in other places and other times I would have been persecuted for what is, essentially, an accident of genetics and history, I might as well wring as much meaning as possible out of it. I still feel that way. That means that I do consider myself Jewish, as far as it goes. (And with me, it’s not that far.) I do feel a connection to Judaism, even though I don’t believe in gods. Judaism resonates with me because it preferences your actions over your beliefs. You need to do good deeds, be a good person, and what happens in your head is between you and your god, if you have one. And I do not.

But the songs get to me. Some of the observances get to me. A professor in college told us the way one of her very religious friends described belief to her was by saying, “I am not living in the past. I am living in all time.” There is an idea some very religious Jews have that we are always receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. That we are always being led out of Egypt. This resonates with me, even if not in a strictly religious sense.

We are always transitioning from one thing to the next. We are always on a journey, arriving and departing every moment, never stopping for anything. Anything you believe you possess is meaningless. In the story, the Hebrew slaves only had time to take what they could carry, and the same is true for all of us. Our real possessions are our memories, our minds and our hearts, and there is no way to leave those behind.

So we go on the journey, marking it year after year. We tell the story again, and we eat the food again, and I chant the way someone has always chanted, even if it wasn’t me. I hear, echoing down thousands of years, the hopes and the prayers of a community who managed to do what so many others did not. They survived. Through the power of their stories. If anything can resonate with me, it is that.

We can’t stop. But we can make memories to take with us when we inevitably have to move on to the next moment. Tomorrow night, when as much of my family as possible is gathered around the table, I’m going to do just that.