Chilling Holocaust ignorance among our youth

tags: Holocaust

Michael Gerson is a WaPo columnist and served as a speechwriter for George W. Bush.

Several years ago, I attended the bar mitzvah of a friend’s son. Uniquely in my experience — and, I’d bet, most people’s experience — all of the boy’s four grandparents were Holocaust survivors. In the middle of the ceremony, one grandfather interrupted: “I have something to say.” He recalled holding his grandson for the first time 13 years earlier and exclaiming aloud, “Hitler, you bastard, I beat you!”

Most Holocaust survivors did not have the option of direct vengeance against their oppressors. They counted their victories in survival, in descendants and in the transmission of memories. But nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the stock of living memories is dwindling. Not many remain who can still address the Fuhrer in the first person: “I beat you.”

According to a recent global survey by the Anti-Defamation League, two-thirds of respondents either had never heard of the Holocaust or believed historical accounts were exaggerated. The ignorance is concentrated among the young. This school year, in California’s Rialto Unified School District, eighth-grade students were asked to write an essay on whether they believed the Holocaust “was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

Note “scheme” and “wealth” — words that Jews have heard before. School officials were forced to cancel the assignment. Which National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke described as a “damn shame” — the cancellation, not the assignment. Cooke complained that academic discussion is too often “conducted between narrow and sternly policed rails.” The purpose of education is to cultivate critical thinking, not “to indoctrinate our children with the values of the state.”

The application of ideology in this case — an all-purpose conservative critique of political correctness — is intellectually lazy. But the assumption of two-sidedness when considering the Holocaust is positively dangerous...

Read entire article at The Dallas Morning News

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