Don’t abandon victims of party

By Lowell A. Dunlap

The stereotype party issue is not reducible to whether one or more of us “takes offense” to Nazi dress-up.

Rather, it’s whether we have the ethical capacity to not, once more, abandon the victims.

Primo Levi in his ‘The Drowned’ and ‘The Saved’ wrote this about a child he knew:

“Hurbinek was a nobody, a child of death, a child of Auschwitz. He looked about three years old, no one knew anything of him, he could not speak and he had no name; that curious name, Hurbinek, had been given to him by us, perhaps by one of the women who had interpreted with those syllables one of the inarticulate sounds that the baby let out now and again.

“He was paralyzed from the waist down, with atrophied legs, as thin as sticks; but his eyes, lost in his triangular and wasted face, flashed terribly alive, full of demand, assertion, of will to break loose, to shatter the tomb of his dumbness.

“The speech he lacked, which no one had bothered to teach him, the need of speech charged his stare with explosive urgency; it was a stare both savage and human, even mature, a judgment which none of us could support, so heavy was it with force and anguish.

“Hurbinek, who was three years old and perhaps had been born in Auschwitz and had never seen a tree; Hurbinek, who had fought like a man, to the last breath, to gain his entry into the world of men, from which a bestial power had excluded him; Hurbinek, the nameless, whose tiny forearm-even his-bore the tattoo of Auschwitz;

“Hurbinek died in the first days of March, 1945, free but not redeemed.

“Nothing remains of him; he bears witness through these words of mine” (p. 21). Solidarity with the “human demands” of Hurbinek and other victims requires us not to abandon them once again, this time to frivolous costume parties.