Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How do I explain this kind of hatred to my children?

Yesterday morning, a nazi-loving, white-supremacist went into the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC and started shooting, killing a security guard.

This man had a website spewing hatred and anti-Semitism that horrified me. According to his (self-written) bio, he is a WW2 vet, a member of Mensa (not sure if I believe that one), and blames his years of imprisonment on "a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal."

Well, good for that there Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals.

How on earth do I explain to my kids that there are still people like this in the world? He claims:
"There was no JEW "HOLOCAUST." There was a German Holocaust."
I’m sure the rest of the European Jews and their families appreciate that. Truly.

"History shows us that JEWS are compulsive LIARS. It is a genetic characteristic that all JEWS share. All JEWS know the "HOLOCAUST" is a lie - because they understand one another. Therefore all JEWS must be held accountable."

As a Jew, and as a human being (but most importantly to me, as a Jew), attempting to teach my children about their heritage and where they fit into the world at large is important. Teaching them about history is important. WW2 and the Holocaust is a big part of the religious school curriculum as children get older. The kids visit the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the LA Museum of Tolerance as part of the 7th grade curriculum. Jeff has been to the DC Holocaust memorial. It’s a brutal place. But an important one. One that teaches us about intolerance, and cowardice, and bravery. One that teaches us that if we allow people like Von Brunn to go unchecked and allow him to spew his hatred unchecked, we could have another Holocaust on our hands at any time.

The fact that there are still a large number of people out there that deny the existence of the Holocaust and believe that Hitler was in the right are terrifying to me. The fact that my children know some of them is even more terrifying. How do I teach them to stand up for themselves and their heritage when they are at an age where the inclination is to "go with the flow"? Not make waves. Fit in.

It’s so hard to speak up for what’s right when you are in your teens. It’s what separates leaders from followers. But try explaining that to a kid who just wants to be popular. Who wants to have a group to go to the movies with on Saturday night. We live in a town where the Jewish population is next to zero. Where when I complained about the lack of Hanukkah wrapping paper one year at the local drug store, I was told, "We don’t get too many of 'your kind' here." It’s hard to combat that kind of thinking. Especially when you are young. What do I tell my kids when they can see this kind of hatred spewed forth on the web? I can’t protect them from everything anymore like I could when they were little. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

As a Jew, I’m terrified that there could be another attempt to exterminate Jews. Intellectually, I know that this is already going on in other parts of the world, against other cultures. Darfur, Rwanda, Sudan... the list is endless, and unfortunately everyone turns a blind eye to it unless they are personally affected.

My heart breaks for the little boy who lost his father yesterday. And although I hate to say it because I really don’t like to wish death on anyone, I wish the outcome had been the other way around.

The fact that this web site, and other hate-filled sites that advocate hate and illegal hate crimes are allowed to thrive on the internet while people are being asked to put away their books because the covers are offensive is, frankly, completely disgusting to me. Others are worried about pronography. And while I agree that this is a concern, I’m more worried about propaganda and hatred. People, take a big gulp of STFU and learn what’s really important, for fuck’s sake.

3 People Gabbed:

Jennifer B. said...

My heart breaks here, my friend. No answers. Only love for you and your boys. And stirred memories of my own...of the Holocaust's impact on my father--a WWII soldier, there at Normandy and later, at the gates of a concentration camp. He couldn't speak of it, was forever changed and deeply scarred by it. There have many times I cried for him, for the young man he was before he became my father...they were crushing experiences he carried with him his entire life, all the way to his grave.

Wendy said...

I was talking about this with My Man last evening and marveling at how anyone could possibly think that the Holocaust is a hoax that never happened. It floors me! To which he replied:

"Wendy, there are people out there who think the moon landing was faked."

Ugh.

It is beyond frightening how many stupid, ignorant, hate-filled people are walking around on this planet.

I don't have an answer for you Lori - other than love your boys. Raise them to be "good kids." Ultimately you have to believe that they'll do what is right, and stand up for what they believe in.

Bookwormom said...

That story horrifies me. Unfortunately I can't say that I'm surprised. I guess that makes me cynical. I prefer 'realistic'. The stupid genes don't seem to be evolving out of the gene pool fast enough.

Men like James W. von Brunn eventually get what they deserve. If not here then in the hereafter. I have to believe that Someone, Somewhere will ensure that Justice is done.

Sidenote:

Two summers ago our daughter took a trip to Germany with our church youth group. I asked the teens & their parents if anyone wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum with us (we're locals). No one came with us. How pathetic is that?!

Several parents asked me did I think the museum was still relevant!!?? And didn't I think it was too intense for teens? Not only is it still relevant, it's blatantly obvious we've not learning anything. The recent history of the Western world has been shaped by events during WW II. And yes the Museum is intense, but teens are well able to cope with and discuss the information presented.

My daughter (and hopefully the others who went with her) learned a lot on her trip. They went to Dachau & to a cold war era nuclear shelter. The museum helped inform her viewpoint- she says that seeing all of these things made her history classes very real and present. And touched her heart forever. Dachau made a profound impression on her. She is a better person for going to these places. Would that we all could say the same.


~Amanda