Editorial: Dramatic high school incident highlights need for history teaching

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A group of Manitoulin High School students thought the perfect Halloween prank would be to make their way through the halls of the school singing a Nazi hymn. Fortunately, staff intervened, but the question continues to be asked: “Is this too early?” The answer is, and always will be, a “yes!” Categorical.

It is unlikely that the students involved in this incident were aware of the gravity of their actions. No wonder when you consider that around 16 years ago even Prince Harry fell into the trap of trivializing one of the 20th century’s most gruesome events when he attended a costume party in as a Nazi officer. The international media fallout generated by this error in judgment was both swift and brutal.

The Manitoulin High School students involved in this more recent event were likely not yet born when the Duke of Sussex made his own blunder, and the events of the Holocaust must certainly seem like ancient history to these students. . True, they wouldn’t be as attuned to the nuances of public perceptions as someone who ranks sixth on the British throne and whose every waking moment was governed by protocol and procedures.

Yet, coming so soon after our National Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to honor the memory of those who died in the service of their country, many of whom fought the Nazi threat when they fell on foreign fields, is particularly annoying.

The school board said it was a lack of understanding and education, saying appropriate steps had been taken to rectify the situation.

But we are left with the question: how did our young people not realize the gravity of their actions?

We are not talking about isolated rural children. As heavy consumers of social media, which most young people seem to be these days, it seems impossible that the students involved are not aware of the growing incidents of anti-Semitism that have taken place in our country in recent years, in particularly with the rise of the alt-right.

MSS student Jocelyn Kuntsi deserves great respect for her courage and eloquence as she uses the internet and social media to explain how the thoughtless actions of these students have come through her life. As the descendant of those who lost their lives as a result of the murderous actions of the architects of the Third Reich and the “final solution” of the Nazis, Ms. Kuntsi speaks with great authority on the subject.

As the haze of years cloud our collective memories, those of us whose experiences of anti-Semitism are suppressed third or fourth, without personal connection, might convince ourselves that this evil has been pushed to the confines of our society, celebrated only by a small minority of lunatics. But it was a small group of largely ostracized “fools and fools” who succeeded in uniting the hatred and fear of “the other” into a force that toppled one of the most educated and civilized countries in the world. at the time, leading Germany to commit the murder of six million Jews and millions of “others”.

Homosexuals, the vulnerable, the disabled and the mentally handicapped, all were sent to the Nazi death camps. There would not be a single family in this nation that would have escaped their depravities unscathed.

There were other horrors that took place, both before and after the rise of Nazism and fascism in the run-up to World War II. None of these events should be celebrated or trivialized by being caricatured. It is not just a “waking” moment.

Those who history has called “the greatest generation”, the people who endured the Great Depression, who crowded the beaches of Normandy, Anzio and Guadalcanal to defend liberty and liberty, were horrified by the revelations our soldiers discovered in those Nazi death camps.

Canada as a nation was not innocent in this horror. Good, strong “honest” citizens were part of the groundswell of public opinion in this country that led to the MS St. Louis incident. On June 7, 1939, the MS St. Louis entered Canada with 907 Jewish refugees on board, refugees fleeing Nazi atrocities already perpetrated in Europe. They were refused entry to Canada. The ship returned its passengers to a “safe port” in four European countries. As the Nazi juggernaut swept across Europe, 254 of those MS St. Louis passengers perished in the Holocaust.

Today we see a new generation of “honest citizens” demanding that our government deny entry to these coasts to refugees fleeing other murderous regimes.

In the weeks to come, as we don our poppies and attend solemn ceremonies for our deceased service members, let’s take a moment to make sure our children understand the gravity of what happened to Western civilization and stress that it will be. always “too early” to trivialize the Nazis and their ideology.

Let’s not forget that.

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