In a letter to The Guardian, a reader looks at the dark legacies of “economic hardship and social deprivation” and sees in Bernie Sanders, who lost several family members in the Holocaust, a presidential candidate who grasps that social security and empowerment function to perform the crucial service of protecting a population from the potentially deadly “seduction of scapegoating” minorities and the underrepresented.

“Several members of Senator Bernie Sanders’ immediate family died in the Holocaust,” writes Rolf Pechukas of Wellfleet, Mass. “His aunt Chana Reibscheid and her son Leopold Reibscheid, his uncle Jakob Gutman, and his half-uncle Abraham Schnützer were all executed in Limanowa, Poland, in 1942.

“I only bring this up to underline the fact, perhaps already evident in his bearing, demeanour, and conduct (Inside the mind of Bernie Sanders…, 19 June 2015), that politics is not and never has been a game for Senator Sanders; it is serious, life-and-death business. Rhetoric can be dangerous. Combined with economic hardship and social deprivation, it can be deadly. In the hands of a gifted and twisted demagogue, it can be catastrophic.

“The antidotes — genuine social security (think about what that term meant, when it was first coined), and the potential for empowerment, engagement and upward mobility — are not just moral imperatives, and humane necessities to ensure. They are what protect a population from the seduction of scapegoating. Bernie is not trying to give away ‘free stuff’; he is trying to save lives (perhaps lives that were lost long ago). He is trying to build the safe and sane framework to keep his fellow countrymen on track, on board, and in it together. Because he has seen, in vivid personal detail, where the other way of doing business leads.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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