Monday, February 26, 2018

My Jewish Grandfathers Loved America: An Answer to the Executive Beast of the NRA

My Jewish Grandfathers Loved America

By David Hartley Mark 

"You should be frightened. If they seize power, if these so-called European socialists take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid, they get the White House again, our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever." 

--Wayne LaPierre, 30-year Exec. VP of the National Rifle Ass'n, and fulltime fascist lunatic 

My two Jewish immigrant grandfathers were European socialists 
No, not really 
Zaydeh Yonkel came from Poland to America because he didn't want  
To fight the Japanese for the Czar 
He bought a red wagon and a nearly-new horse 
And started a small moving business 
And joined the Democratic Party 

My maternal grandfather, Henry ne Hershel 
Came to this country at the age of seven 
With brothers and sisters 
Henry became a CPA 
And bought a brownstone near Gramercy Park 
He became a Democrat, too 

In Europe, they would have had to step off the curb 
If a nobleman, a poritz, came by 
To allow him, their superior, to pass
Because they were Jews
And hence, less than human

They both loved America 
With all of their hearts 
For giving them a home 

Neither was a Socialist,  
Though many Jews were 
Gentiles, too 
As was their right 
As Americans  

He and Celia, my Nana, 
Had two daughters: 
My mother and my aunt 
Ethel became a teacher, 
Charlotte, a nurse 

Those were the only options 
Open to women 
In those days 

Grandpa Henry loved this country 
With an immigrant's adoration 

Then came the day of the parade. 
Ethel, my mother, always loved parades: 
Also firetrucks and circuses 
She loved excitement and laughter 

She was coming home from school one day 
It was nearly May in New York City 
And she saw a group of ordinary folks marching with signs: 

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE 

RISE UP LOSE YOUR CHAINS 

POWER TO THE PROLETARIAT 

My mother was very young 
But she did love parades 
Firetrucks and Circuses 
And these marchers were singing 

So Ethel walked a little way along with them 
It was a beautiful spring day 
She felt a warmish breeze 
Summer was coming 

She marched with them 
All through Union Square 
On the sidewalk near S. Klein  
On the Square 

Nearly to the East River 
But her legs were tired 
So she went home 

It had been a fun parade 

That evening, Poppa Henry presided over dinner 
Sitting at the head of the table 
Wearing his three-piece suit 
He had one for every day 
A real American suit 

He smiled benevolently 
On his loving wife  
And sweet daughters 
And, as he customarily did, 
He asked Ethel and Charlotte about their day: 

Charlotte reported about school: 
Her friends, the teacher, 
And what they served for lunch 

"Good," said Henry, 
Turning to his elder daughter, 
"And how was your day, Ettie?" 

My mother smiled, 
And said,  
"I was in a parade." 

"Parade? What sort of parade?" 
Asked her father, puzzled. 
"The people were carrying signs," 
Reported my mother, 

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE 

YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS 

JOIN THE COMMUNIST PARTY TODAY 

Henry trembled within. 
It was the days of the Red Scares: 
Bombs were going off in Chicago and elsewhere, 
Attorney General J. Mitchell Palmer was deporting "enemy aliens," 
And Henry was fearful of being lumped together with them 
Someone had gone so far as to bomb Palmer's house in DC: 

Henry was scared 
For the lunatics were threatening his family,  
And His country 

And now his daughter was marching with Communists? 

Henry rose, 
Leaned over the table, 
And slapped Ettie's face 

He never did that, 
Not ever again 

Now: I am not a Socialist, 
Though I did study their platform 
Back in the days of Michael Harrington 

But I believe in my country (and yours, Reader) 
And our right to espouse any political beliefs we wish 
As long as we don't hurt anyone 

Which is where Wayne LaPierre 
Fails miserably 
At being an American 
Or a human being