Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remember Them

Tonight I attended a lecture at my university about the ethics of euthanasia used during the Holocaust. Before they opened the Concentration Camps across Europe, the German Nazis had already began the process of eliminating those they did not see as worthy of living.

In the beginning, they would take deformed infants from their mothers, promising them the best care available. They would then slowly starve these helpless children to death. Later, they would move on to the mental institutions and hospitals for those with disabilities. A wide range of people could be euthanized, including alcoholics, those with TB, and the mentally handicapped. Even more, anyone who was related to someone with one of these broadly defined problems could be sterilized or killed.

German society supported these practices. These camps weren’t located far away from people. Often times, they were in the middle of towns and citizens had to realize what was going on. Society had scared them into supporting the euthanasia policies. Propaganda was spread about the cost of the disabled. Posters and moves advocated the superior Arian race that would one day dominate the world.

I tell you all this because I believe it should be known. I think people need to take time out to realize what humans have been capable of doing to each other in the past.

My mom works at a small, West Texas school. Recently a new boy moved from New York. His family is Jewish; although he doesn’t actively participate in the religion, the other kids at school still pick on him. They taunt him , calling him names like “Jew-Boy” in the halls between classes.

The bullying accelerated one day last week. A group of Hispanic boys wrote all over his car before lunch. They drew a large swastika and the Star of David with a penis drawn through the middle. The chalk they used severely scratched up his car.

The boy found his damaged car at lunch and immediately went home to show his mother. She was obviously extremely frustrated and called the school to complain.

This is where this story gets incredibly irritating to me. The school administration has been trying to ignore the issue and refuses to punish the kids who openly discriminate against a minority. They keep coming up with excuses and claim that they can’t prove who did it, but every teacher and student in the building knows just which group participated in the crime.

Allowing anyone to mock the Holocaust, in my opinion, is one of the biggest mistakes our society can make. History repeats itself and if we are not careful another group will take control and start weeding minorities out. How can anyone listen to stories detailing the appalling conditions in which six million Jews in Europe were murdered and millions of other “unworthy” races and individuals with disabilities were killed?

I’m barely out of high school, and I’m already looking at teenagers and wondering where our society is going. So many seem to have no real moral focus and are not bothered by the pain and suffering of others. Hand them an iPod filled with bawdy music and they will be happy. Why care about other people?

This attitude seems supported by so many parents and the administrators at school. My mother’s principal responds to her complaints of behavior issues with one standard answer: “That’s why I got out of the classroom.” He shrugs his shoulders and refuses to hand out punishment because he doesn’t think it’s his problem anymore. Why is he still in the school system? How can our teachers do their jobs when they have no real disciplinary action in the schools?

Furthermore, this story really bothers me because it involves one minority disrespecting another. This group of students often who claim they are being discriminated against if a teacher corrects a wrong answer and walk around with a chip on their shoulder if a white teacher happens to do her job. They understandably don’t enjoy being called “Wet-backs” yet they turn and openly mock the torturous killing of millions of innocent people because of their race or religion?

Some days I wonder what our world is coming to. If we can blindly turn our eyes to discrimination of a teenage boy based on religion and mock the murder of millions of men, women, and children, what’s to say that there won’t someday be another Holocaust? It is our duty to remind people of the atrocities that occurred during World War II and work to ensure that it never happens again.


Makenzie said...

you're amazing!! what a wonderful post!! i studied history to become a secondary ed teacher and i cannot believe that your mother's principal thinks that it is not his problem. how truly devastating!! i will pray for that boy tonight. this is not what he should have to experience here in america!! seriously- love the history post!!

hang in there with the roomies!! it is almost over!!!! like dory in finding nemo "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" :)

good luck on finals too!!