Tuesday, October 12, 2010

trivializing the symbols of hatred

In preparation for a class I wanted to find a photo of crowds cheering for Hitler. I teach Holocaust, and at the moment we learn about Hitler rise to power. I googled: "crowds welcoming Hitler". Every other photo was with President Obama. What the fuck, people?! This is offensive on so many levels... I am not even talking about the obvious ignorance of people posting it, but the lack of any understanding, any comprehension of what it actually means to compare anyone to Hitler... this is simply beyond me. It's not only offensive to Obama, as it would be to any normal person, but it is to the 11 mln victims of sick, perverted racist hatred spilled by Hitler all over Europe. It might be that I am extra sensitive, being Jewish and from Poland. There, Hitler is still subject of jokes (as himself), but is never used as a serious attack on anyone, I can't remember anyone ever being likened to him as a way to criticize or express one's dislike of opponent's policies.

The word "Nazi" is never used in a silly way, but the word is still heavy and smells of blood, even a few generations later. I cringe every time I see "grammar Nazi" and similar creations. Or see icon with Hitler and his troops for "admin/moderator". Most Nazis were walking, breathing killing machines, throwing infants out of windows, cutting women's bellies open, burning people alive or shooting dead innocent crowds humiliating and robbing them first. All of them preached extermination, death, supremacy of one kind of a human over another. These words should be remembered for what they stand for, with their real meaning.

The same goes for "Holocaust". This name is reserved for a particular even in History. There is no "animal holocaust" nor "zombie holocaust". There even is no "Armenian Holocaust", but Armenian Genocide. There are "massacres", "mass killings", "destruction", "annihilation" and other terms that could be used, depending on a context.

I have nothing against using Hitler in historical or political comparisons. Using facts, real numbers and events. Real words, speeches and policies. Studied them first in depth and not based on half-truths, stereotypes and myths. Hitler is not a symbol one can stretch to one hateful heart's desire. He was a real person, living in real historical context.

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