Tomorrow Belongs to Me
A few months ago I attended a private screening in Pasadena of the 1972 film Cabaret, which lost the Academy Award for Best Film to The Godfather, and yet still put an Oscar on the mantel of director Bob Fosse, not to mention ones for Liza Minnelli, Joel Gray, and five others. The screening was hosted by film buff Alex Kozinski, whose day job is chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and whose parents are both Holocaust survivors. His friend, Cabaret producer Manny Wolf, was on hand to treat us with cinematic anecdotes and to answer questions afterward.
The first time I saw Cabaret I was too young to really appreciate the dark undercurrent of the story’s historical context. In the film, based on Christopher Isherwood’s book The Berlin Stories, the performers and patrons of a 1930s Berlin nightclub indulge in a raucous, desperately carefree decadence against the ominous backdrop of a growing National Socialist Party presence and increasing hostility directed at Jews.
In perhaps its most infamous scene, a fresh-faced young man captivates the patrons of a biergarten with a beautiful tenor rendition of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” The song is bursting with youthful idealism for a radiant future. But when the camera pans down to reveal the swastika armband on his Hitler Youth uniform, the scene’s tone suddenly turns chilling. The song gathers disturbing momentum as the Aryan patrons leap to their feet to sing along fervently:
Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
Your children have waited to see
The morning will come when the world is mine
Tomorrow belongs to me!
The song peaks with the young Nazi’s arm rising in the martial Hitlergruss, the stiff Hitler salute that is the very symbol of genocidal fascism.
“Leave your troubles outside,” Joel Gray announces to the nightclub’s audience. Cabaret’s garishly painted master of ceremonies promises them that “in here, life is beautiful.” But by the end of the film, the club’s doors are no longer a barrier to the ugliness of encroaching totalitarianism and Jew-hatred. The movie’s closing shot is a distorted reflection of the cabaret’s patrons, among whom are now visible a number of Nazi brownshirts.
Tomorrow did not belong to Nazism, because the Allied forces rose up against it – however belatedly – and crushed it militarily. Its raging momentum was largely (though not entirely) snuffed out in Adolph Hitler’s bunker. But not before genocidal horrors had been wreaked across the European continent.
Today, a new Jew-hating totalitarian force is on the march, this time not only in Europe but across the globe. Or rather, it is an old one that in fact reaches back fourteen centuries, but which rages today with a newfound intensity. For the most part the Nazis tried to keep their Final Solution under wraps, but these totalitarians don’t often bother to conceal their genocidal, imperialistic, and supremacist agenda. In the wake of the grotesquely misnamed “Arab Spring,” for example, countless thousands of Muslim Brothers in Tahrir Square last November chanted, “One day we shall kill all the Jews.” They don’t need to camouflage their message, because just as when we faced Nazism, too many of us are either willfully blind to the threat or secretly support it, particularly among the elites in government, academia, and the media, who busy themselves denouncing the mythical threat of “Islamophobia.”
As GLORIA Center scholar and PJ Media columnist Barry Rubin points out, “the greatest threat of hatred, ‘racism,’ dehumanization of the ‘other,’ and threat of persecution today – as the statistics for Europe and North America show – is not ‘Islamophobia’ but anti-Semitism.” And the storm troopers of today’s Jew-hatred are jihadists.
The Islamist hatred of Jews is so unbounded that they target Jewish children and pregnant women for butchery. A rabbi and his pregnant wife were tortured to death in the Mumbai rampage three Thanksgivings ago (the terrorists had been told by their handlers that the lives of Jew targets were worth fifty times the lives of non-Jews). The unrepentant Palestinian monsters in Israel who left the Fogel family house after hacking them to death a year ago went back inside to finish the job when they heard the cries of the orphaned three-month-old girl they had overlooked. A jihadist murderer in Toulouse last month targeted, among others, a seven-year-old Jewish girl – whom he chased down and snatched by the hair to steady her for the kill shot – and a Jewish father and his two very young sons – one of whom, in a terrible irony, had been named after the slain Mumbai rabbi.
And yet the news media and government officials ignore or make excuses for jihad in the name of political correctness and tolerance of the intolerant. The kneejerk response of the media is almost always to sympathetically depict the Muslim perpetrators of violent jihad as feeling alienated or under stress – as if the natural consequence of that is to seek out and massacre innocents, including Jewish children. About the Toulouse murders, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton drew a ghastly moral equivalence between them and “what is happening in Gaza” — as if Jews are equally guilty. French President Sarkozy assured the public that the self-proclaimed jihadist’s actions had nothing at all to do with the Muslim faith. And so the evil rages on unabated.
If Cabaret were being re-made in today’s Hollywood, would the new producers dare to replace the original’s Nazi storm troopers with jihadists? Would they be as willing to depict these new Nazis as the genocidal supremacists they openly admit to being? Of course not. Moral cowardice still reigns in Hollywood. The movie biz considers an anti-McCarthyism flick like Good Night and Good Luck to be a courageous statement. Like Cabaret’s emcee, Hollywood still asks us to leave our troubles outside the cinema and pretend that life is beautiful.
But as in that movie, willful ignorance is no barrier to the spreading wildfire of the new/old antisemitic totalitarianism. How many more Jewish children will have to die before we once again name the enemy – Islamic fundamentalists and their fellow travelers – and rise up to crush it? When will we call this what it is – a clash of civilization versus barbarism – and muster the righteous will to defend the former and extinguish the latter?
To whom will tomorrow belong?