politics

How Playing the ‘Anne Frank Game’ Allowed Me to Break Up with Friends Over Politics

Close up of best friends using a mobile phone while at a cafe

I make bad jokes, inappropriate ones; even, sometimes, about the Holocaust.

Last weekend, for instance, when touring my friend Maria’s new house, I half-jokingly asked if she would hide my family when Trump’s Stormtroopers came for us.

Standing in the archway of her semi-hidden storage closet, a look of puzzlement, mixed with amusement, came across her face. What was I talking about?

“I’ll be like your Anne Frank.” I explained. “And you’ll be Miep. Stand in the doorway and let me take your pic for Facebook.”

Used to my childish antics, she obliged and we giggled.

Later that afternoon, though, I got to thinking: “Would Maria actually hide my family if it ever came to that?”

I would like to think yes, she would.

Then I wondered about my friends who voted for Trump, and honestly, I couldn’t think yes for them.

It was then that my ambivalence about breaking up with friends over politics—a common worry for many of us, these days—subsided.

In his acclaimed short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” which you can currently read at the The New Yorker, Nathan Englander describes couples playing the “Anne Frank game, “like the one I played in my head about Maria. He describes it as “a kind of preparation, an active pathology,” but then he goes on to say that “it’s a serious exploration, a thought experiment that we engage in.” At the heart of this game, he implies, are real truths about our relationships, and the lengths we’d go to to protect each other.

You see for weeks, I have agonized, wondering if I was being too extreme in my reactions to political disagreements. But the thing is, as a Jewish lesbian, I am scared to my core by the Trump administration. Recent threats to JCCs across the country, coupled with Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT agenda, make me fear for my family’s well-being. And it’s for these very reasons, that I broke up with friends: in my mind, they voted against us.

I am sure my now-former friends weren’t explicitly motivated by anti-LGBT sentiment or anti-Semitism; however, Trump’s rhetoric wasn’t enough for them to reconsider their vote. In other words, my life and well-being weren’t enough for them to reconsider their vote.

So if the “Anne Frank game” is the litmus test, then so be it. I don’t want friends who sit comfortably alongside prejudice. I want friends who will be the “righteous gentiles;” not only in my “Anne Frank Game,” but also in real life.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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