As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in huge numbers under our military care instead of S.S. troops.What disturbed me most in the Times’ report were the verbatim quotes from General George Patton, who was in charge of our country's Displaced Persons operation. Patton wrote in his journal, “Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals.”
Bruni's column was followed on the same page by the report about displaced concentration camp survivors, a positioning that seemed to trivialize Bruni's hand-holding observation. Still, the two articles in tandem underscored the progress against anti-semiticism and homophobia we've seen here and in other western coutnries.
In only a few years homophobia has been relegated from a legally buttressed norm to a widely condemned prejudice. At least, these are the best times to be gay if you live in London, Madrid, Auckland, or San Francisco. In many other parts of the world the plight of homosexuals is dire, even deteriorating.
It is not altogether a coincidence that, while gays are posing for wedding photos in ever more countries, in others they are newly afraid for their freedom, even their lives. In some places politicians are combining homophobia with nationalism to create a noxious, hybrid populism -- portraying gay-rights as a Western imposition and themselves as bulwarks against encroaching foreign depravity.
Activist and actress Laverne Cox became the first trans-person to grace the cover of Time magazine; “Orange Is the New Black,” in which Cox’s trans character also broke boundaries, was nominated for 12 Emmys. Amazon’s “Transparent,” about a father who is transitioning, hit gold as well.
Out in the real world, meantime, transgender people continued to be attacked and killed in shocking numbers. Murders topped 1,500 in the six years between 2008 and 2014, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project. And the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reported that 41 percent of people who are transgender have attempted suicide at some point in their lives, nearly nine times the national average.As I mentioned last week, my friend Ron -- who made the more difficult transition from female to male -- unfortunately ended up in the sad group of transgenders who attempt succeed and succeed.
Petrow's column notes that only a meager eight percent of Americans know someone who is transgender. I wonder what the percentage was back in the early 1980s when Ron and I were friends.
I think the extraordinarily rapid change in the public's attitude toward homosexuals was triggered by the AIDS crisis. Before that, most Americans thought of homosexuals as stereotypes: the effeminate gay or the butch lesbian. But this image was shattered by the thousands of gay men outed by AIDS, a group that included Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, and that nice young man who lived next door.
Now, 92 percent of Americans say they know someone who is gay or lesbian -- a reality widely acknowledged as a primary driver of mainstream acceptance.
With more than 1.5 million Americans identifying as transgender, it's very likely that more of us will get to know a transgender. Bruce Jenner -- with his reported plans for a reality TV series based on his own transition -- could greatly accelerate that process.