Saturday, February 05, 2005

Taking History For Granted

A lot of people are using the term "nazi" these days, mostly for political purposes. It's coming from both sides of the spectrum, people trying to drive their point home that "those people are as bad as the Nazis." I want to discuss the relevance to us at IR Haven and why everyone should be a little more careful about what terms they use. The term "nazi" has a special place in history, as well as in infamy. It should not be used casually or out of proper context.

I was not even alive when the Nazis came to power and attempted to conquer the world. The end of World War 2 came over 20 years before I was born. I state this because some of the people using these terms are younger than me.

I did not really have a good understanding of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis until I did two things: I researched World War 2 on my own and I watched "The Pianist." That film chronicled the perspective of an actual Polish Jew who survived the occupation of his homeland, which included the creation of the Nazi ghettos (which is where the term "ghetto" originated) and the Nazi death camps.

"The Pianist" is the only movie I have ever watched that truly and utterly disturbed me in a way no movie ever has. I have only had that sensation one time before, back in the early days of IR Haven, when it had a forum. During a brief period, some racists would make seemingly harmless posts but include racists links.

One post at the forum led me to a website with a gallery of "art" by a racist. That art gave me a glimpse of what went through the mind of someone who has no regard for the life of someone of another race, who sees a group of people as less than human...lower than animals. I knew, in seeing the proud creations of this kind of mind, that I was looking at evil itself.

The Nazis killed millions of people, most of them Jewish but also gypsies, homosexuals, the elderly and the disabled. Hitler was a nationalist, a socialist, a euthenasist and an athiest. The Nazi military was smart and brutally efficient. They took advantage of every perceived (and real) weakness of every nation they occupied. They would have dominated the world like the Roman empire had they not been stopped by the Allied forces.

People on the Left call people on the Right nazis and vice-versa. While there is certainly room for healthy debate concerning political leanings in either direction, the use of the term "nazi" to describe either side is to disrespect history and the true victims of Nazism. I think everyone should research World War 2 and the Nazis from that era.

We who are a part of the IR community should have a special understanding of this. Some people have experienced discrimination. Some have even been brutalized, imprisoned and/or had their lives threatened. But if we did not live under the Nazis, first of all, we should thank God and second, we cannot call ourselves victims of Nazis.

I'll conclude this with a true story someone once told me. He was in a shop and a young man was there to get a specialty item. The shopkeeper was unable to accomodate him and the young man accused him of racism. The older man assured him he was not being racist. The young man said "What do YOU know about discrimination, old man?" Then the older man lifted up his shirt sleeve and showed the man the barcode branded into his arm from the Auschwitz death camp. Upon realizing what he was seeing, the young man walked out of the shop without another word.

Best Wishes,

No comments: