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The German teacher

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So today I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Newport Beach, basking in the sun, working on the syllabus for my upcoming class.

There’s a woman behind the counter; about my age; speaks with a German accent. She remembered me from my last visit, said, “How’s your daughter?”

We exchanged pleasantries, and she told me she’ll soon be returning to Germany for a month. She lives here now with her American husband, but is going on vacation. She also told me, excitedly, that she recently earned her United States teaching credentials. “I had them in Germany,” she said. “Not here.”

We talked a bit more. About the summer. About the waves. About my late grandma, who came from the town of Karlsruhe some 80 years ago to escape Naziism. I said to her, somewhat reluctantly, “I don’t know how you feel about Trump, but when I hear him and I think about what my grandma used to say about Hitler …”

Her face turned white.

“Hitler,” she said, “used to speak to the uneducated in beer halls. He’d buy them beers and talk to them about all the problems people were causing them.” A pause. “It’s so similar, to scares me so much … I don’t know how people here don’t see it.”

I nodded.

Yesterday the president announced transgender members of the military can no longer serve. The Justice Department argued gay rights aren’t civil rights. More and more undocumented immigrants are being ripped away from their families and sent away.

The right dismisses Hitler comparisons as vile hyperbole.

They are not seeing.

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