Saturday, April 28, 2018

All over again

 Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian:

In the next few years, Fawcett will be joined by a new memorial in Westminster. This one will be for victims of the Holocaust. When the idea was first floated, I was ambivalent. I wasn’t convinced it was necessary. Surely everyone knew that the Nazis and their collaborators across Europe had murdered 6 million Jews in a bid to eliminate the entire Jewish people. Did we really need to tell that story all over again?

 But this month brought news of a survey finding that two-thirds of US millennials could not say what Auschwitz is, while 22% of that same age group had not heard of the Holocaust.
Maybe education on this subject is better in Britain, but it was still possible for two Holocaust deniers to be adopted as Labour candidates for next week’s council elections, while the Conservatives nominated a man who once tweeted that he was “sweating like a Jew in an attic”. And it was possible for a supposedly humorous video, in which a would-be comedian repeats the phrase “gas the Jews” 24 times, to go viral.

In other words, the memory of the Holocaust is not secure, just as what seemed to be long-ago battles over racism and sexism have not been won. There is an amnesia abroad that is troubling, as if lessons we thought we had learned need to be relearned all over again.

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