Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy Birthday to a Woman of Valor and My Mother

9781468573909_COVER.inddPICCSince my first post in Holland’s Heroes, my writings have included articles about the Holocaust, information about Dutch Jewry leading up to and during the time of Nazi occupation, essays of current events, videos, and tributes to special people, either living or passed on.  Till now my most important, meaningful, and emotional tribute was remembering my father on the anniversary of his passing in June.  What I write today holds a special meaning unlike any I have written till now, for it is about someone incredibly special, inspirational to so many, and thankfully still strong enough and healthy enough to be able to hopefully appreciate and enjoy what I am writing in her honor.  The tribute is to my mother, Sipora Groen, on her 91st birthday, today January 1, 2013.

To begin, making it to 91 with a strong and healthy body coupled with a mind sharper than many half the age, is in itself a remarkable accomplishment.  I learned many years ago that although it takes God’s blessing to live a long life, it is still to be seen as an accomplishment in and of itself.  The responsibilities of life, the heartbreak, the illness, and life’s various struggles, all take a toll on an individual as they reach this more advanced age.

Now let’s look at this particular individual, my mother, Sipora Groen.  Born on January 1, 1922, she lost her mother when she was a young child of 13.  She took care of her younger brother and held responsibilities around the house most women are not given till they are at least 5 years older.  When the war broke out she was engaged to be married and studying to be a nurse.  Little did she know her life would be turned upside down and go a different direction than she had ever dreamed.  The Nazi destruction of the Dutch Jewish community would claim the life of her father, her brother, her fiancé, and numerous friends and family.  It would also thrust her together with my father, Nardus Groen, who fell in love with her and took it on himself to do whatever possible to see her safely through these horrible times.  His bravery and resourcefulness would be part of what would save her life, but equally if not more important, her inherent strength and incredible courage over the 5 years of occupation, allowed her to live on and build a life together with the man who had fallen deeply in love with her, and she had learned to love and appreciate in the hardest of times.

I have often said that my father saved my mother’s life during the war, and that my mother saved my father’s life every day after the war.  Strength is impossible to measure, but it is possible to recognize different types of strength.  What makes my mother’s strength so remarkable is that it is natural.  So many of us access our most inner soul at the hardest of times and utilize whatever strength we are fortunate enough to find.  We need to be strong and we try to be strong, sometimes with greater success than others.  My mother is strong every day of her life.  It is what allowed her to not only survive the war, but to do so with her sanity.  It is what allowed her to be the matriarch and cornerstone of a new family now almost 30 strong, and it is what makes it possible for her to read this post, or as is my hope, have it read to her on her birthday.

If it is even the slightest bit of a mystery to someone reading this how much I love and respect my mother, you have not read the book  “Jew Face”.  My feelings for both my parents are extremely obvious in my writing, and for this I make no apology.  Instead I say today, on my mother’s 91st birthday, thank you Mom for being an inspiration, a pleasure to have around, a friend, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, but most of all for me, a wonderful mother.  I write this knowing that what I say is a sentiment I gladly share with everyone else who calls her Mom, and hope to be able to say this till she reaches the age of 120.

And for those on Facebook and any other social media reading this, I ask you to give my mother a special birthday gift by posting this article on your timeline so that the people you call friends are aware of this remarkable woman and have the opportunity, if they so wish, to learn about her remarkable life as I portrayed it in “Jew Face”.

Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you.

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A New Years Blessing

picprAt the end of each year it’s common for people to look back at the year that passed, sometimes with joy, sometimes with sadness, and almost always with a degree of nostalgia.  We have seen new life begin, we have seen life end.  We have loved, we have lost, we have either been ill or seen illness to those close to us or close or to people we care about, we have earned and spent, believed and doubted, laughed and cried.  Maybe one or more of our dreams have come true or maybe one or more of our dreams have been replaced with new dreams or no dreams at all.  We have felt positive and we have felt negative.  We have given joy and we have hurt people.  We have found our belief in God strengthened or weakened, but hopefully never destroyed.  We have created or enjoyed a creation which we have enjoyed and complimented, or not enjoyed and criticized.  We have been outspoken and we have been silent, and we have shouted and whispered.

Chances are that when we look back at those generalities we can almost say that this year was like every other and will be like all the others we are blessed to still have ahead of us.  What may have changed is our perspective and specific experiences or accomplishments.  It is my hope and prayer that all of you have a perspective that allows your life to be a little more fulfilled than last year and not as fulfilled as this new one that is about to begin.   May you be blessed with wisdom and understanding in the coming year so that every day is an opportunity for happiness and accomplishment.

To all of you who have taken the time to read what I write on here, buy the book “Jew Face” or both, I thank you for letting me into your lives and hopefully making some positive impact on your lives and your perspectives.  Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy 2013.


A Day of Funny Mishaps, Good Company and Chocolate Wine

chocovine_originalThe purpose of Holland’s Heroes is primarily to promote the book  “Jew Face”.  As many of you already know, I often use this forum to discuss matters of the day and personal views or philosophies.  In this particular post however, I will be doing none of the above.  Instead this is me keeping a promise and sharing the events of what was a fun day filled with a series of minor incidents and mishaps, none of which would spoil the festivities.

As I do not use this forum to discuss my personal life in any detail, and since I believe in honoring and respecting the privacy of others, I will be somewhat vague in regard to the people involved when telling my story of December 25, 2012.

The plan was for me to be at the home of a special friend (the use of the world special here is all any of you nosey ones will get) in Queens by 4:30 so that we could travel from there shortly after 5 to her mother’s friend who had invited all of us to enjoy the Christmas festivities.  The woman we were visiting, a very friendly woman I had met just a few days earlier, was kind enough to invite me to her home and enjoy excellent company, food, and drinks.  I must say, as someone who is a lightweight, it feels like I’ve already had more alcohol between Thanksgiving and today, as I write this the date is December 27, than I had the previous almost 11  months of the year.  And that is before I even celebrate New Years and my birthday which will fall this year the day after New Years.  If you are scratching your head you passed the “is the reader paying attention?” test since New Years is on January 1 every year and my birthday falls the day after New Years every year on January 2.   Anyway, I arrived near my friend’s home, got off the bus, ran across the street, tripped over the island, stumbled, regained my balance and made it to the other side just ahead of the oncoming traffic.  Incredibly lucky to be alive (the drama is just for effect, it wasn’t THAT close), I made it to my friend’s house and waited with the 2 lovely ladies for the car service that was to take us to the party.

When the car arrived we put 3 large bags in the trunk of the car.  Being the man in the group, I decided it would be appropriate and mildly macho to carry 2 of the 3 bags, so when we arrived at our destination I went to take out the same 2 bags.  As I pulled away from the trunk I saw something in the trunk that might have fallen from one of the bags.  I moved forward to double check the trunk exactly at the same time that my friend, someone who I thought actually cared about me, pulled the hood of the trunk closed on top of my head.  The assassination attempt was not successful however and I still live to tell the story, even though I had to wait 2 days till my memory returned and the headaches subsided (more nonsense since 5 minutes after it happened I felt perfectly fine).

The house was filled with Christmas decorations.  And when I say filled, I mean it did not matter which way you turned your head.  Lights, ornaments, statues were everywhere.  The only problem is that since most houses are not equipped to use as much lighting as the Empire State Building, within 10 minutes of being there different fuses took turns turning off.  Of course the upstairs fuse went off just as we were walking up the stairs to drop off the coats, but despite my wobbly condition I made it up and down safely.   I did manage to knock down some decorations on the staircase, with the help of my friend’s mother, but it was dark so I honestly have no idea what it was we knocked down anyway, which means it is almost like it never happened.  Shhhh. Honorable mention goes out to my flashlight app on my smart phone.

The food was delicious, the wine was good and getting better by the glass, and little by little more people made it to the party.  I had Chocolate Wine, which, I am proud and happy to say came from Holland since it was quite good.  If it sucked I never would have written about it and certainly not shown a picture of it.

The food was heated on sternums, so when it was time to clean up there was one large aluminum pan that I helped the hostess carry to the kitchen.  Only half of the water in the pan made it to the sink, the other half ending up on my arms and on the legs of the hostess.  At least this wasn’t life threatening, even though I was fearful of drowning at one point (more nonsense).

I discussed fantasy football with the hostess’s son, much to the dismay of my friend, and then proceeded to watch his young daughter open approximately 250 presents (another exaggeration), but she was a cute little girl so everyone enjoyed watching her having such a nice time.  Plus I got a scarf from the hostess so I was happy too.

The cab came to pick us up, I was not attacked this time, and we all made it home safely albeit it a little ill from the constant stop and go of the car.  The only explanation I can come up with is that the driver was practicing for when he does drive in traffic, because there was none on this night and he still managed to drive like he was on the Van Wyck Expressway North at 5PM on a weekday.  On a personal note, I had a great time and thank all those responsible for making it a fun time for everyone.


A Modern Day American Nazi

Why is the book “Jew Face” important? Why is this website important? This is why.  If I had not heard it with my own ears I would not have believed it.


Being Jewish on Christmas

jewishchThe most intriguing thing for me as I sit and write this is the question continuously going through my mind.  Although I write this for everyone, is this piece more important for those close to me who are Jewish, or those close to me who are not?  Maybe I’ll have my answer by the time I finish it, but for now let me first begin by wishing all those who celebrate the holiday a very Merry Christmas.

Now that I may have lost the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Atheists among the readers let me continue.

Let me begin by stating the obvious.  Jesus, as we all know, was Jewish.  So being Jewish on Christmas is a complicated concept to begin with.  This past week I had a mini debate with someone who insisted that Jesus converted to Christianity.  I insisted that was not true.  This person insisted they were told that in school, while I assured them they were never told any such thing.  Now of course I can’t be sure what the teachers actually said, but to the best of my understanding Jesus lived as a Jew and died as a Jew.  Christianity was the religion formed from those who followed him and believed him to be the Messiah as understood by Jewish teachings.  To the best of my understanding Jesus never turned away from Judaism, he just created a following of those who felt he was the Messiah, or Savior which subsequently caused him to be seen as a problem by many in the Jewish hierarchy, an issue that causes some to accuse the Jews of killing Jesus, even though in reality it was the Romans.

Now that I may have lost the ignorant and anti-Semitic among the readers let me continue further.

I was very fortunate to grow up in a household that was, in many ways open-minded.  Christmas decorations, movies, and music were all appreciated for their beauty and not seen as a threat to our religious makeup.  The result of this is me being an adult Jewish male capable of enjoying the atmosphere in households with Christmas trees, decorations and Christmas music and lights.  It’s all very nice and uncomplicated and allows me to enjoy whatever situation I am thrown into, or dare I say even pursue this time of year.  What all this does not do is answer the one question.  What does it mean to be Jewish on Christmas?

Well the first answer is very simply, it depends on the person.  I know that to some Jewish people it means nothing.  Although some do find it diametrically opposed to all they believe in, for many of those that fall into this category it is not something negative, merely something insignificant.  I understand this point of view because to those who focus entirely on the religious aspect, Christmas is something to be celebrated only by those who believe in Jesus being more than a man.  I remember a trip I took to London that included me being there on December 25th.  The majority of my friends, people who I went to an Orthodox Jewish day school with, were getting together with their families for “Christmas dinner”.  In fact I was told that in the days leading up to Christmas the Kosher butchers sold turkeys by the dozens and ended up selling out of them completely.  To these friends of mine this was clearly not a religious pursuit, rather it was an opportunity to get together with their family and have good food and some fun.  Not unlike Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

I dare say that to some Jews there may even exist a phenomenon that could be called Christmas envy.  It is why sometimes we say Merry Christmas first, just to get a “same to you” response.  After all, who wants to be excluded from “good will to all men”? I sure as hell know I don’t.

Now that I may have lost those who feel the use of the word “hell” is inappropriate and not Godly let me conclude.

I like Christmas.  It is a nice holiday, filled with good food, pretty sights and the best of intentions.  If you believe as I do, that the major difference between Jews and Catholics is really only whether or not the next coming is the first one or the second, you have no trouble with any of the religious significance.  When no religiously motivated hatred exists on either side, all that really matters is the fact that people are getting together with those they care about, or at the very least like enough to be at a party with.  For many Catholics who indeed celebrate Christmas, the religious significance is not what is even important to them about the holiday. Instead it’s the decorations, food, and family, making it not at all complicated for me to justify my enjoying it as well.

So to all of you who celebrate, or to those of you like me who have a good time any time I am invited to be part of the celebration, Merry Christmas.

And should there be any out there who I lost at this point because they felt that as a Jew I should not be so comfortable in speaking of the beauty that can surround Christmas, I urge you to read the following excerpt from the book “Jew Face”.  It is indeed one of my personal favorite excerpts and speaks of my parents and their experience on Christmas Eve 1944 in what was then Nazi-occupied Holland.

 

 

Excerpt from “Jew Face”:

Christmas Eve

It had been close to a year now since Sipora had arrived in Lemerlerveld, and although she hoped and prayed that she would not have to live out her days in the conditions in which she currently found herself, the te Kieftes had been extraordinary in their treatment of her and Nardus, and the people of the village had made her feel as much at home as they were able to under the circumstances.

There was no hatred toward the Jewish people in Lemerlerveld. However, being that the population of the town was mainly Protestant, Jewish practices, customs, and holidays were not part of the life here, and living there meant that Nardus and Sipora could not practice their faith. With the positive treatment they received, they were welcomed by Bertus and Geeske, as well as their family and friends, to celebrate their events and holidays.

So on December 24, 1944, as the German forces had fallen in the south, and the Allies moved closer to what they all hoped would be the end of the brutal occupation of Europe, Nardus and Sipora were invited to join the Christmas Eve dinner and celebration at the Oosterwegels household.

For one night, it felt like all the horror, sadness, and tragedy was frozen in time. The night was a special one. The atmosphere was wonderful. The home was filled with the warm glow of candles and the aroma of a special meal. The guest list was a mix of people from town, Bertus and Geeske with their two children, Bertus’s brother with his family, underground activists, Communists, and Nardus and Sipora. Maybe the specter of an impending Allied victory made the evening more special, but the warmth and joy present on this night was something neither Nardus nor Sipora would ever forget.

There are days, events, and situations when the world feels like one place, when people who come from different backgrounds and different beliefs come together under God’s watchful eye and show that even with all the force and determination of evil forces, good still survives and, on occasion, even thrives. When the manner in which you worship takes a back seat to the basic fact that you do worship. And all that has happened and will happen doesn’t matter for those moments that get frozen in time, bring joy to many, and give everyone the hope that there will be a reason to continue on with life’s efforts.

Christmas Eve 1944 in Lemerlerveld, in the Oosterwegel household, was one of those nights, and Sipora and Nardus were glad to be part of it.


Remembering a Friend

YCThe most important thing to me about the book “Jew Face” has always been the fact that it is about real people and real events.  There are real friendships in the book and friendships that developed amongst the generations that followed those people spoken of in the book.  Sadly, people pass on, and we only hope that the people they leave behind continue their life and legacy.

Today we mourn the loss of Ester Abram.  Ester was the wife of Sam Abram, a childhood friend of my father.  Following this post I will put up the excerpt from the book that speaks of the events that took place between my father, Sam, and Sam’s sister during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  But first we remember Ester Abram, who together with her husband Sam would end up being a lifelong and cherished friend of both my father and mother.  On behalf of my mother and our entire family we express our deepest sympathies on her loss and pray that she rests in peace.

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Jew Face

Saving Nettie

 As the Germans were to come in on various occasions and raid neighborhoods, the Jewish community in Amsterdam became smaller and more dispersed. Those either not willing to accept the evidence or whose innate courage prevented them from leaving their home would ultimately find themselves shipped off to what we now know would ultimately be their cruel treatment in concentration camps, and in most cases, death.

Throughout 1941, Seys-Innquart, Aus der Funten, and his other henchmen were in the process of determining a location to use as a deportation center for the Jews of Holland. The two most logical places were the Esnoga, the Great Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, and the Hollandse Schouwburg, the great concert hall of Amsterdam. After reviewing it carefully, the Nazis felt that the Schouwburg was the more logical choice. Because of the large amount of Jewish patronage over the years, the proximity to the Jewish ghetto, and the purpose in which it was now going to be used, the Nazis changed its name to the Joodse Schouwburg and prepared it for use as a deportation center.

The plan had in many ways already been put into action. The concentration camps of Westerbork and Vugt were set up in the north and south, respectively, and beginning in January of 1942, after mass roundups, Jews were no longer allowed to live anywhere in the Netherlands but Amsterdam or the two camps. When arriving in Amsterdam, these people would either live in the homes of others or would reside in public institutions such as schools or hospitals.

The Schouwburg had been set up and was used for Straf Gevaals (“S Cases”) and for whatever group of random Jews the Nazis chose to keep there until deportation.

Meanwhile, the death camps of Auschwitz and Sobibor were close to operating at full capacity. The Germans were taking the process of eliminating the Jewish population of Europe to a new level. Once they reached that stage, in July of 1942, the system in which they handled the Jews of Holland was cut and dry. Homes and institutions were raided, and if not emptied out in full, they were left devastated and in shambles. Most of the people picked up in these raids were brought to Westerbork, where they would stay for a short while, days at most, before being transported to the death camps. Those not sent to Westerbork went through Vugt. The majority of the remaining was first processed in the Schouwburg and then went through the same pattern of Auschwitz or Sobibor via Westerbork.

Even before the mass deportations of July of 1942, the Grune Polizei (“Green Police”), the Nazi police force patrolling Amsterdam, would make regular raids and roundups in Jewish neighborhoods. Many of the Jews who had an understanding of what was taking place went into hiding before they were forced to leave their homes. For many, this was the reason they survived, although, as was the case with everyone who hid, some were more fortunate than others.

The situation in Amsterdam was worsening from week to week. Thousands of people had already been taken from their homes, and it was becoming more and more clear that this was going to get a lot worse before it got better.  Most of the people being seized from their homes at this point were individuals. Families and couples appeared to be spared for a large part, but it was a tenuous situation at best, and the future had a very ominous feel to it.

 One day early in 1942, Nardus was approached by one of his good friends, Sam Abram. Sam lived close to Nardus, and they had attended Yeshiva together, frequented the same gatherings, and knew and liked each other very much. Sam had a younger sister, Nettie, and he was concerned that this young, attractive, single woman would be in danger of being sent to one of the camps. And his fears were justified. Many of the women in the neighborhood had disappeared, and with the incidents of brutality leaking out, no one wanted to spend too much time imagining what this meant. They just knew that is wasn’t good. So Sam asked Nardus if he had a way to help Nettie stay out of the camps and remain in Amsterdam.

There was really only one way Nardus could help her: He had to marry her. In so doing, he would at least be able to delay her capture. So Nardus and Nettie Abram were married in an effort to save her life, and for now it appeared to be working. As a married woman, she was able to remain in Amsterdam long enough to allow her to find a family where she could hide. And once the Nazis started taking everyone away, married or not, Nettie would need that hiding place.

Nardus and Nettie remained married through the entire war. Any resolution to the situation would not be able to take place before the war would end. Nardus knew this but did not care. Marital status meant nothing right now. What mattered was saving as many lives as possible. Right now, he had the chance to save the sister of a good friend, and he would do so. What he did wasn’t much, and it gave no assurances for the future, but it gave her a chance. Nettie would be safe, at least for now.

 


The Solution Starts with the Media

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If there is one thing the majority of people opining since last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Ct., myself included  have in common, is that we have said a lot, spoken of what we like and don’t like about the current situation, and have offered no solution to the problem.  Part of this is due to the fact that many of the responses are emotional, so in essence the comments are reactions and expressions of how we feel, and since the tragedy caused so many to feel strong emotions, it is easy to understand why this is happening.  In this post however, I offer my solution, conceptually if nothing else.  Where does the solution lie?  It lies in the middle.

Let me start by saying something that may shock those who know me well.  My views have somewhat changed in the past week.  As a result of speaking with people, reading articles and posts, and watching news programs, I have moved somewhat away from my extreme view of wanting to ban guns from the common citizen.  I have spoken with some very good people who own guns.  The country does not become a better place by taking away their guns.  I have read posts on social media outlets and articles in news agencies from people who are not angry or hateful people, who feel owning a gun is important to them and give every indication of being thoughtful people who know that guns are dangerous if misused or unaccounted for.  The country does not get better by taking away their guns.  I watched Bill O’Reilly a few days ago, and was impressed by the insistence of a well-known Republican celebrity and gun owner admitting that there is a problem and that something needs to be done.  So now there is me, someone who has in the past made the statement that I question if the American people have lost their right to bear arms, thinking that the best answer may very well be one that allows people to continue to have that right.  However, they may need to make some sacrifices to help improve the chances that others don’t end up making the ultimate sacrifice.  I make no claim to know the technicalities of the current gun laws, but this post will not be dealing with technicalities, instead it will be dealing with a concept that I feel is critical to our civilizations survival.

I came up with my “solution” after going through a thought process brought on by a combination of factors.  One factor was the attempt by lunatic organizations and the Iranian government to somehow connect Jews and even Israeli military to the shootings in Newton, Ct.  It’s so insane that it’s gotten very little play outside the inner circles of those who fabricated the stories, but enough that many of us have heard it.

The next thing I considered was the situation between Israel, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.  All reports indicate that tensions are now rising in the West Bank and that radical organizations are trying to get another Intifada started.  The key and extremely important word there is “radical”.

I also read about those so-called religious leaders and organizations that blame the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary on the lack of God in the school and in our society, implying, sometimes saying outright that it is our behavior as people going away from God that caused this and other tragedies to happen, even those not caused by man directly, such as Hurricane Sandy.

The final thing that helped me come to my conclusion was the frustration of a good friend who, after looking at many of these issues, concluded that there appears to be no way to solve any of them.  This was coming from an otherwise positive individual who was feeling tremendous frustration at the apparent futility of any of the answers provided by anyone out there with any influence.

So what is the answer?  The answer lies in marginalizing extremists.  Over the past week I have seen a very clear distinction, on both sides of the political spectrum, between those who attack policy and those who attack people.  Those who without provocation attack the people who do not agree with them are always extremists in one way or another, while those who attack the issues are sometimes extremists, often not extremists, and generally not the problem.  Although I believe that the influence by their leadership has caused a large percentage of Muslims to at best dislike Jews and Israel and be people who would not mourn the loss of Jewish life, I absolutely believe that the majority do not want to murder anyone, including Jews.  I am confident that the majority of gun enthusiasts find making America a safer place to live just as important an issue as those who push for stricter gun laws.  In fact, it needs to be said, in fairness, that many gun owners feel this way because they in fact do not feel safe without one.  This means that although stricter gun laws may be important, they need to go hand in hand with finding ways to make citizens feel safer.

So how do we go about marginalizing extremists?  We call on, actually we demand help from the media.  The Mayans may or not be correct about the date, but unless we do something dramatic, they have a really good chance at being correct about the outcome.  Except at this rate the world is headed more towards catastrophic implosions than cosmic explosions.   Here is my call to the media and why I feel the answer lies in the major media outlets working together.  Most people hold views that fall in a safe zone somewhere between the far right and the far left.  By safe zone I mean a place where even if they are clearly Liberal or clearly Conservative, they are not dangerous people.  I also believe that even if a network like FOX News has a Conservative agenda, and MSNBC has a Liberal agenda, they both agree on the issues that have the greatest impact on our survival.  Neither advocates terrorist activity, mass murder, or outright bigotry.  These networks have enormous influence worldwide, and if they took it on themselves to work together in discussing the issues they do agree on, they might be able to impact society towards a middle of the road mentality.  In fact I feel that on a daily basis the major networks should coordinate a simulcast for at least one hour where they discuss the issues they agree upon regarding our safety, health, and basic ethics, and leave the harsher philosophical battles for the rest of the day.   Imagine Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, and Bill O’Reilly on the same broadcast, shown on all 3 of these networks discussing the heroics of the schoolteachers of Sandy Hook, Ct., or condemning terrorist who blow up buses or kill dozens in roadside bombings.  They can discuss their feelings on the specifics of gun control laws on any other broadcast, but if they got together for one hour a day and spoke of ways to improve mental health or identify potential murderers, imagine the good they could do.

There has been much talk this past week on the need of our society to change its mindset.  I believe everyone agrees with this in one way or another.  However, with all the time being wasted on blaming the extremists on both sides, we may be missing out on a great opportunity to begin the shift towards a more civilized world.   I don’t lay the blame on the media, but I do think that it has an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility to marginalize the radicals and extremists who either are only concerned about their own personal or agenda or are so far gone they no longer care about anything important.