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The Next Target

Their three elder sons, Nathaniel’s brothers, fulfilled Rose and Isaac’s deepest hopes by turning out to be blindingly inconspicous. The boys were so reliable and had so few characterestics it was hard to imagine what anyone could think up to kill them for. They were Jewish, of course, but even Rose and Isaac understood that this particular criterion was inoperative in the United States – at least for the time being.

– Deborah Eisenberg’s “Twilight of the Superheroes” (page 14)

Although it may seem a coincidence that one of the main characters is a young Jewish man who had parents escape the Holocaust, Eisenberg most likely had a deliberate meaning for this. One of the meanings that was discussed previously during class was the idea that September 11th will soon be this event out of a history book; one that feels far away and extraterrestrial to those who learn about it, just as the Holocaust is to students today. The Holocaust seemed to play a minimal role in this story because September 11th was the main focus. However, the Holocaust was once just as terrible, or some would argue worse, than September 11th.

What is the difference between these two tragic events?

In addition to that analysis, it could also mean something totally different. In the quote written above, it is stated as if there is always some group, whether they be classified ethnically or culturally, that will always be on the opposing side of the public spectrum. Past examples from history include racism against blacks and an example of today would be the anti-Muslim sentiment that has evolved from the events of September 11th. That group becomes the Them in the “Us versus Them” arguement. It could be argued that the statement is related to the idea that the radical fundamentalists theorized that the United States was run by Jews.  Propaganda that relates to the idea of a Jewish America.

Propaganda that relates to the idea of a Jewish America

Therefore, when the fundamentalists turned against the United States by attacking the twin towers, they actually turned against the Jewish world and the Jews, along with all other non-Muslims, were the Them in the “Us versus Them” situation. The United States would no longer be the safe haven that Rose and Isaac wanted for their children. In addition, the notion that anyone is safe, “at least for the time being,” makes me fear who will be the next target of the next horrible event in history. Overall, both situations make the use of a Jewish family a deliberate choice on Eisenberg’s behalf and without that particular character choice, the story could have taken an entirely different turn.

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