We Must Stop Trivialising the Holocaust – Conservative Article
The Holocaust is one of the most tragic events in history. 6 million Jewish people were murdered and a further 5 million civilians were killed. However, the severity of this genocide has been trivialised for far too long, and this is getting progressively worse.
A recent study has shown that 1 in 10 Americans under 40 think that Jews caused the Holocaust. If this is not shocking enough, 15% said that they thought the Holocaust was a myth or has been exaggerated. This study has made light of two clear issues; there is a clear gap in Holocaust education and there is a pattern of Holocaust trivialisation that pervades our social realm.
When I first attended university I was shocked to find that I had friends that had never even heard of the word ‘antisemitism’. Having attended a Jewish school, I expected to know a lot more about the Holocaust than other undergraduate students. I did not, however, expect university students to know so little about such a prevalent part of European history. This issue does go further than education. Culturally there is a dismissive outlook towards the Holocaust that is continuously growing. Holocaust trivialisation is a result of this ignorance.
There is a clear link between the trivialisation of the Holocaust and social media. A recent example of this would be the #holocaustchallenge on TikTok. The challenge saw many teenagers dressing up as Holocaust victims in point-of-view style videos. The Auschwitz Memorial has said that this trend is ‘harmful and offensive’. This is absolutely true, but I would go even further to say that this is the product of decades of Holocaust trivialisation.
A tweet comparing the Holocaust to the current Uyghur Muslim camps in China has recently gone viral. It states that ‘China has officially passed the death count of the Jew victims in the Holocaust with Muslims in the concentration camps yet everyone is silent. You heard me, we are living with a huge genocide happening amongst us.’
Whilst this tweet was most likely shared by people trying to raise awareness of modern-day genocide, there are multiple issues with it. The first problem is that there is simply no way to fully understand how many Uyghur Muslims have been murdered at the hands of the Chinese government. This is due to the state suppression of information. The second issue is the demeaning language used to describe the Jewish people. In using the term ‘Jew’, the author of this tweet is using a noun to describe an entire ethnoreligious group, which is extremely dehumanising.
Over the years, the word ‘Nazi’ has been used regularly in politics when describing opposing views. This has occurred so much that people have become desensitised to the actual meaning of the word. This problem is prevalent throughout both sides of the political spectrum. Donald Trump has often been described as a ‘Nazi’ by the left, and the right has created the damaging term ‘feminazi’ to describe feminists. The casual use of the word has to stop. It takes away from the terror of the Holocaust, but it also makes it so much harder to challenge current genocides when people become desensitised to this use of language.
The Holocaust is one of the most widely known genocides. Using it as a point of comparison certainly helps to raise awareness of the severity of current genocides. It is vital that we push this message across. We must, however, ensure that in pursuit of amplifying this message, we do not undermine the history and experiences of the Holocaust victims.
It is abundantly clear that the trivialisation of the Holocaust permeates the social and political realm of our present day. We must do what we can to tackle the way this part of history is represented. If we do not, then how can we expect to fully comprehend the severity of current genocides?
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Rebecca Selt
Point of Information
Holocaust trivialisation leads to darker things – A Liberal Response
I am in firm agreement with Rebecca here. We must stop trivialising the Holocaust. If we don’t, we allow Holocaust distortion and even denial. By using the Holocaust as a throwaway reference, we risk committing two very dangerous crimes.
First, trivialisation desensitizes people to the nature of the Holocaust, something Rebecca points out well. The casual use of the Holocaust diminishes the severity of the tragedy. Trivialisation fuels overfamiliarity, which leads to complacence.
Holocaust trivialisation also removes the tragedy from its historical context. In the process, it strips the victims of their memory. That memory is then recklessly appropriated in an entirely different historical situation. Misusing historical memory weakens the historical context of that memory. A terrible cycle is created.
Both errors are very dangerous. They pave the way for Holocaust distortion, as the historical background loses its meaning. This has some very real consequences.
Take a look at Facebook. The ‘#holocaustchallenge’ videos on the site, directed many viewers to Holocaust denial videos. Many viewers, lacking a proper education on the Holocaust, were left at the mercy of antisemites. Trivialisation led onto denial here. It also left viewers without any real historical knowledge to refer back to. In fact, by creating an illusion of truth, the ‘#holocaustchallenge’ made things much worse.
We can do better, we can push schools and institutions to promote a respectful education of the Holocaust. We should remember the Holocaust, as with other genocides, as an event needing its own individual context. Finally, we must fight against trivialisation.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
There is a greater need for further, detailed discussion – A Labour Response
Misconceptions surrounding the Holocaust is a very important topic raised by Rebecca. The Holocaust is one of the greatest crimes against humanity. The victims should rightfully be remembered and honoured with dignity. However, it is a sad reality, as Rebecca has mentioned, that over time this massacre has become a tale and, like all tales, people developed misconceptions about its brutal reality.
I’m not surprised to see that most Americans have no clear idea of what the Holocaust was. In fact, to be brutally honest, America should never be taken as an example of general knowledge questions about the world and its history. Numerous surveys of Ipsos Mori clearly indicate that the US is always among the topmost ignorant countries as far as general knowledge of the society is concerned. So the Holocaust is not an exception; the average American lacks factual knowledge on pretty much every issue. And, I’m not just talking about historical events, but also current affairs like the immigration issue.
There is one thing however that I want to explain. That when a certain group or community passes through extremely difficult times, it makes them stronger. And later on, the memory of those times keeps them strong and keeps them going. So it is essential for every community that they let the memory live on for the wider world and especially for their own community.
One of the best examples of this would be how Shia Muslims organized the gatherings in Muharram to commemorate the death of their spiritual leader. Because of these properly organized events, most Muslim countries with a Shia population are aware of the incident or at least have a rough idea on how they mourn death. I feel that the issue of the Holocaust has not been explained enough to the larger public for a random person to be fully aware of it. People might have heard the word Holocaust, yet have no clear idea of what exactly it is.
Another problem is that the world that we live in today has become so fast for us to digest information. Most information is very short-lived. Something comes into trending, grabs everyone’s attention but, in the blink of an eye, it disappears like it never lived. This does not give us enough time to absorb and feel the issue. Hence, humankind has become less sensitive than it was before. This is the reason you see people imitating the victims without realising the sensitivity of the issue and considering the sentiments of the related people.
Moreover, the unrest in the world has become so normalised that we are not moved by random terror attacks until it hits our home. If we really want to commemorate and honour the victims of the Holocaust, there is a greater need to respectfully discuss the issue on every possible platform.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Shamamah Dogar
I am a third year student studying English and Film Studies at the University of Exeter. After completing my degree, I will be converting to law to begin my journey of becoming a commercial lawyer. As an avid reader of the Financial Times, I have begun to understand how important the commercial market is in forming global politics.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.