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May 15, 1992 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-05-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


A Sign We Need To Carry

A solitary man holding a sign.
He stood across the street from the en-
trance of the Shrine of the Little Flower on
Monday night. Inside the church, the
Ecumenical Institute for Jewish-Christian
Studies was sponsoring a tour of the Shrine
and a fund-raising reception. The organiza-
tion's funding is due to end this September.
The nearly illegible writing on the sign
was still clear enough to read. It said that
Father (Charles) Coughlin was right; Jews
are part of the communist conspiracy.
Father Coughlin, whose radio show
reached 40 million listeners during the
1930s and '40s, espoused the view that if
Germany chose Naziism as a way to over-
come "Jewish-backed" communism, then
the choice was proper.
While touring the dimly lit chapel with
its carved ivory and ornate design, one
wondered how a place dedicated to
godliness could ever have become as one
scholar called it, "the national center for
anti-Semitism in the 1930s and '40s."
The Reverend Monsignor Alex J.
Brunett, the church's pastor, explained to
the audience of about 100 people: Up until
1938, Father Coughlin was considered a
great Catholic leader. He had ecumenical
appeal and many Jews as listeners. Grad-
ually, explained the Rev. Brunett, Father
Coughlin started to demand change for
what he called "social justice," (the name
of his magazine). The suspicions furthered
when he started talking over the radio
about "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
There were attacks on FDR. There were at-
tacks on Jews.
The Rev. Brunett linked Father
Coughlin with an anti-Semitic outside in-
fluence, a priest from Ireland. It was that
association, according to the Rev. Brunett,
that changed Father Coughlin and brought
him down.
It would be wonderful if the Coughlin
chapter in history could be put to rest. To
some of the visitors to the Shrine on Mon-


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FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1992

day, contemporaries of this chapter in his-
tory, the issue is too difficult to forget. Us-
ing gallows humor, more than one visitor
was overheard saying that Father
Coughlin would be turning in his grave if
he knew what was going on in his Shrine
that evening.
But the Rev. Brunett reminded us all
that even if the time was difficult, it is still
important to dissect it and study it. With
leaders such as the Rev. Brunett, the Rev.
James Lyons and Rabbi M. Robert Syme,
who spoke on Monday night, the hope for
Jewish-Christian dialogue and understan-
ding will continue. That is why the need for
the Ecumenical Institute is as important
today as it was when it started 10 years
ago. That was the message in the same
church that heard something entirely diff-
erent 50 years ago.
But as hard as we work together, the
message that it could come apart or that
there are people still not willing to listen
was carried by a single sign on a quiet,
tree-shaded street outside the Shrine.
Someone suggested that it was good that
there was only one, not more. But even if
there were none, there is still more work to
do. The Rev. Lyons said that we spend a
great deal of time preaching to the already
converted. When we perform even the little
actions, such as stopping a friend from tell-
ing an ethnic joke, then we make a positive
step. Unfortunately, for most of us, the act
of refusing to hear a joke requires a great
deal of strength. Because personal accep-
tance, being one of the gang, is often more
important than standing for higher moral
When we laugh at that joke, then we
don't deserve to cry when we see a solitary
figure condemning us or anyone else on a
street corner.
By building each other up, instead of
tearing one another down, we'll one day
win. And that's a sign any one of us would
be proud to carry.



Dry Bones

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Don't Equate
Red Cross Units

I am writing to respond to
the May 1 article which men-
tioned the skepticism many
Jews have toward the Red
Cross because of the refusal of
the International Red Cross
to recognize the Magen David
What the article did not say,
and what your readers should
know, is that the American
Red Cross is one of the Magen
David Adom's most faithful
In 1989, the American Red
Cross board of governors
unanimously approved a
resolution reaffirming Ameri-
can Red Cross "recognition of
the Magen David Adorn
(MDA) as a national society
that forms a part of the Inter-
national Red Cross movement
and that adheres to and
serves to further the fun-
damental principles of the In-
ternational Red Cross move-
ment, and of the MDA's
emblem, the Red Star of
The American Red Cross
and its local organization,
the Southeastern Michigan
Chapter, fully support the
MDA in its desire to be
recognized by the Interna-
tional Committee of the Red
Cross and admitted to the
League (now known as the In-
ternational Federation) of Red
Cross and Red Crescent
Societies .. .
As a member of the board of
directors of the Southeastern
Michigan Chapter, I want to
encourage those who do not
know the fate of relatives lost
in the Holocaust to put aside
any hesitations they might

have about the American Red
The Red Cross can help
them try to get information
about lost loved ones. The-
local telephone number to
call for help is 833-4440, ext.

N. Brewster Broder

King Verdict
And Responsibility,

The tragedy of the Rodney
King verdict was made
clearer by the date of its
delivery, April 29. That same
day, the state of Michigan
held its official Holocaust
Remembrance program iri\

As Jews and people of good
conscience gathered to I
remember the horrors of Nazi
Germany, rededicating them/

selves to building a society /
based on equality and justice
events in Los Angeles re-
minded us of frightening
parallels between Nazi Ger-
many in the 1930s and '40s
and the United States in the
Times change, prejudicer.=_ \
change, but the basic point re-
mains constant: when a


minority is considered in-
ferior to the society in which
they live, state-sanctioned
atrocities are inevitable.
Rodney King was beater,_

because of his race, just as
Jews have been persecuted
because of ancestry. The of-
ficers who beat Rodney King ,
did not regard him as ant)
equal nor as fully human, as-
Nazis regarded Jews, gypsies,
homosexuals, Serbs and-\
Continued on Page 10

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