I visited a Holocaust Museum in Germany years back and it was an unforgettable experience. The gates, (I’m guessing) are about 1o feet high and scripted over and over again with these words:
NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN.
And that IS the point of a Holocaust Museum. In my mind, except for a small number of militant skinheads, the deniers that the Holocaust ever happened have been swept away. I was in for a shock.
This denial in 1981 and in 1982, that the Turks obliterated 1.5 million Armenians is appalling and a warning of it’s own. I didn’t remember this denial. I do remember the Russians changing their history books to obliterate their pogroms of Russian Jews. The Holocaust always seemed to me to be about Jews, and Germany and the Aryan beliefs of hate spread by Hiltler’s culture of fear.
Rwanda is too soon forgotten in that far away country. The obliteration of the Tutsis by the Hutus, people who spoke the same language and were similar in character to each other; who had lived as neighbors for many, many years. Isn’t that true of the Germans and the Jews? In Rwanda, it started when identity cards were issued, stating everyone’s ethnic background The government leaders, ( denied by their president), and businesses, favored Tutsis over Hutus and with the cards they knew who was who. Tusis got the better jobs, better education and better pay. Divisiveness began long before the actually killings took place. But,when the killing started, it was tolerated by the United Nations. The United States did nothing to interfere, nor did other Democratic countries.
Most of the battles were without guns. They didn’t have the money or wherewithal to buy sophisticated weapons. In 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis were hacked to death while the world benignly looked on. United States workers were shocked at the barbarity of the crime and the toleration of such evil. One thing that came out of the Rwanda genocide is the recognition that rape is a weapon.
My second shock was the full realization that all but the Armenian Genocide happened during my lifetime.
The Kurdish cleansing. The atrocities in Darfur, Czechoslovakia…I can’t even remember them all.
Here, a German woman measures the skull of a gypsy, to see if she qualifies as a saveable human being.
It always starts with hate. Some ethnic group is chosen as the scapegoat for that hate. Weapons of internal warfare are about the same: Systematically burn down houses, rape the women; separate families.
Here a child tries to connect with his mother and brothers in a detainment camp.
Spread fear. Keep them poor, hungry and fearful. Cut education. Make them thankful they have any kind of job.
It can’t happen here you say?
I’ve been visiting the border towns with Mexico for a good portion of this year. I’ve watched as the Border Patrol goes hunting with their weapons, all terrain vehicles and dogs. I’ve listened to the hatred perpetrated by our lawmakers against immigration. And, hate is palpable in the air all around us. War on minorities is on the rise. Women don’t need the same pay for the same job as men. Religion is inserted into government in marriage, health, ethnicity. All muslims are evil. Don’t frequent that gas station. Protest the building of that temple. Build walls to keep Mexicans out. The politics of fear are pouring down upon us.
In some states there is a movement to require everyone to carry identity cards. Greyhound buses are allowing spontaneous searches and seizures on their buses. Only people with dark skin are questioned. It can’t happen here. Or can it?
The Museum teaches that it is important to speak up when people use racial slurs and disrespect others because of their skin color, or ethnicity. They give classes and educate children to reject the strong forces of hate and divisiveness. As adults, we mindlessly pass on jokes and patriotic speeches that reflect hate, or delete them without letting the sender know you object to them. Spewing hate is an epidemic in our country right now as we suffer economic hardships. Apply blame somewhere.
I thought skinheads were a small minority. I had no idea how much of this type of activity goes on, or that there are numerical codes disguising the forces of evil working to save our country for WHITE people only. (Not all shaved heads are “skinheads” the pejorative for active, militant gangs of white supremacists.)
I see clearly the need for constant rejection of any and all racial slurs and bias against another human. And, the necessity to guard your own language and thoughts against such bias clearly meant to get you to “take sides.” We need a reminder like the Intolerance Museum to strengthen our resolve.
The Museum is all volunteer and survives on donations. They have a website:
http://www.nmholocaustmuseum.org/ The museum also covers the years of hate and laws in America against African Americans, Native Americans, and Japanese Internments. Then there was intolerance for Chinese, Irish Catholics, Poles, Unionizers, LBGY…the list seems to go on and on.
Excellent post, thank you! Particularly pertinent today, when some celebrate the anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany while conveniently overlooking more recent (and ongoing) atrocities. Have you had the chance to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC? If not, I highly recommend it – it’s a phenomenal place, but it’s definitely an emotionally trying experience.
A very interesting post. It seems very unlikely that any of this would change in our lifetimes as it is something that has occurred throughout history.
We can only hope that we will never see that extreme in our country but, then again, we have the Civil War to look back to and the insanity of killing one another over something as indefensible as slavery.
Given our current political climate it would seem there is no reason to be hopeful as we seem to be moving to an extreme.