Ladies and gentlemen of the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review:
I want you all to know why the ABR’s vote on Chik-fil-A affected me personally.
I was born in Rheine, Germany, in 1935, the same year that the Nuremberg Laws, which curtailed Jewish life in Germany, were passed. There were heavy penalties if anyone broke them.
Among other sections in the laws, some made it impossible for Jews to earn even a meager living. My dad and his brothers, as were their ancestors before them, were respected cattle dealers in North Rhein. The Nuremberg Laws made it a criminal activity for gentiles to do business with Jews. My dad and his brothers now couldn’t buy or sell cattle to gentile farmers. There were few, if any, Jewish farmers.
The laws made it a crime for gentiles to sell raw materials to Jewish businesses. Jewish shoemakers could not obtain leather or rubber for heels and soles. Jewish candy makers could not obtain milk, sugar and other candy ingredients. Jewish doctors could not obtain medicines, nor treat gentile patients. Jews lost all government-affiliated jobs, from clerk to university president.
In later years, the laws were expanded and Jewish businesses, including the largest department store chain in Germany, were literally stolen for miniscule amounts of money and turned over to Nazi Party members or to the party itself.
Any gentile who helped Jews were warned — once. The second time and it was off to jail. A Nazi Party member in my mom’s hometown of Sinzenich was expelled from the Nazi Party for lending money to my family and playing cards with them. I have an official copy of his official expulsion document.
When I learned that certain ABR members had used Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s religious (not political) views as means of preventing the opening of his legal business and also had attacked his constitutional guaranteed right of free speech, I was immediately taken back to what had happened to my family under totalitarian rule. I was angry!
All five members of the ABR, including Stephanie Poole, Christopher Gilliland and Kirk Gradin, whose excuses for abstaining do not ring true and who abstained in the vote for a staff approved and minor change in the store’s landscaping, should be given the chance to resign before all are fired.
Bettie Weiss showed herself to be the professional that she is by overruling this terrible injustice to Cathy. She is entitled to well-deserved congratulations from the people of Santa Barbara, whom she has served so well for many years.