Racism and Anti-Semitism: Ignoring Evil Does Not Make It Go Away

Swastikas on columns in Union Station in Washington DC
Holocaust Remembrance Day was yesterday, January 27. Today, Bo Erickson of CBS News reports that there are swastikas drawn on almost every column in Union Station in Washington, DC. 

In Tennessee, a school board banned the teaching of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus. That novel teaches about the Holocaust. It is based on the experience of the author’s parents. They survived Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother later killed herself. 

The McMinn County Board of Education thinks the novel is disturbing and too adult for high school students. 

The Holocaust is an obscenity. Learning about the Holocaust SHOULD be disturbing. 

Art Spiegelman, the author of Maustold the New York Times

“’This is disturbing imagery. But you know what? It’s disturbing history.’

“After reading the minutes of the meeting, Mr. Spiegelman said he got the impression that the board members were asking, ‘Why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?’”

That’s apparently what Texas wants, too. Back in October, NBC reported

“A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “opposing” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.”

Legislators who passed the Texas law requiring multiple perspectives on “widely debated and currently controversial” topics say that’s not what the law means. Teachers remain legitimately fearful.  

Anti-Semitism and racism walk hand in hand. 

That crazy comment about opposing viewpoints on the Holocaust came the week after the same school board reprimanded a teacher for keeping an anti-racism book in her classroom.

NBC News gave anonymity to six teachers they interviewed, who were afraid of what would happen if they spoke publicly. 

“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” an elementary school teacher said. “There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”

On Sunday afternoon, January 24, more than 30 car-loads of Trump supporters surrounded the home of Ohio State Representative Casey Weinstein. They carried flags demanding that he “Stand for the flag, kneel for the cross.” Weinstein is Jewish.  

ABC News in Cleveland reported: 

“Weinstein said that his children were very worried during the incident and that his four-year-old daughter asked if it was safe. 

“‘They were worried. They had a lot of questions. My 4-year-old asked if we would keep her safe if we were sure we could keep her safe, which is like a punch to the gut as a parent,’ Weinstein said. ‘They didn’t know. They’re saying, ‘Why are they so angry? Why don’t they like you?'”

Weinstein says he does not know the particular issues that the mob advocated. The mob didn’t know either. Among their demands: support for veterans. Weinstein and his wife are both U.S. military veterans. 

“I just truly think the underlying intent was intimidation of me and my family,” Weinstein said. “I promise you this, we’re not intimidated. We won’t be intimidated.” 

Three days later, on January 27, the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day. Sometime during the night of January 27-28, someone drew swastikas on the columns of Union Depot in Washington, DC. 

Anti-Semitism and racism walk hand in hand. Right now, both are swaggering together across the U.S. political landscape. Ignoring them will not make them go away. We need to fight back. The first step is telling these stories, telling all of our stories, telling the whole of U.S. history—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and not allowing our voices or histories to be silenced.

x x x

Sources:

Jenny Gross. “School Board in Tennessee Bans Teaching of Holocaust Novel ‘Maus.'”New York Times, 1/27/2022.  <https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/us/maus-banned-holocaust-tennessee.html >

Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton. “Southlake school leader tells teachers to balance Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views.” NBC, 10/14/2021. <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/southlake-texas-holocaust-books-schools-rcna2965&gt;

Camryn Justice. “Protesters allegedly supporting Trump gather outside state Rep. Weinstein’s Hudson home.” ABC News, 1/24/2022, updated 1/25/2022. <https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/democracy-2020/ohio-politics/protesters-allegedly-supporting-trump-gather-outside-state-rep-weinsteins-hudson-home&gt;

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