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Something that I learned while watching the coverage of today's horrific shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington DC, was that former Congressman, Senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen was at the museum waiting for his wife Janet Langhart.

Their marriage is probably something that James von Brunn, the accused shooter, would not approve of since not only is it an interracial marriage, but Cohen was born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, and Langhart is black. (HT to arodb for the correction...I'd stated Cohen was Jewish but now identifies himself as Unitarian)

But the purpose of this diary is not to talk about von Brunn ( directly ) or even Cohen and Langhart's marriage.

The reason that the Cohen-Langharts were at the museum is because tonight, a one act play written by Janet Langhart entitled:

Anne and Emmett

imagining a conversation between two more people von Brunn would likely have hated, was to be performed.

Anne Frank and Emmett Till, two people who have educated so many about the horrors of war, hate, bigotry, and racism.

The play is described as follows:

If Anne Frank and Emmett Till had the chance of meeting one another, what would they say to each other?

Can you imagine? I'd never thought about it until I heard about Langhart's play today which is the only good thing that has come out of the sickening events of today.

The play was originally discussed in a book written by Cohen and Langhart:

Love in Black and White: A Memoir of Race, Religion, and Romance

"Anne and Emmett" tells the story of a beyond-the-grave meeting of its two titular characters: Anne Frank, a 13-year-old German Jewish girl who hid from Nazis until she was sent to a concentration camp and died at age 15, and Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago who was kidnapped, beaten and murdered on a trip to Mississippi in 1955.

In the play, Frank and Till find many similarities in the slights that are part of their heritage. Both come from ethnic groups that suffered through slavery — the Jews, as told in the Bible, as the laborers of Egyptians, and blacks for hundreds of years in the United States. Both have been forced to live in ghettos — blacks in 20th century urban America, and Jews dating back past the Nazi occupation to the first ghetto, instituted in 1516 in Venice. Pre-1950s caricatures of Jews bearing horns and blacks having tails suggest a devilish or animalistic view of both minority groups, depictions of them as evil and worthy of hate.

"This is not only about race, it’s about hatred," Langhart Cohen said in a discussion held after the reading.

Hatred indeed. The kind of hatred that brought von Brunn to the Holocaust museum today. The kind of hatred and fear promulgated by too many in our society still. The kind of hatred that we ALL must fight against everywhere we see it. The kind of hatred that killed two teenagers before they even knew who they might be in life.

So as sad and angry as I am, we have to show this man and others like him that we are not afraid.

Originally posted to The Underground Lair of Vita Brevis on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 01:08 PM PDT.

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