Thursday, May 19, 2016

Jerusalem 1545

I'm at Yad Vashem, the largest Holocaust memorial in the world and probably the most depressing place I've ever been.

It's important to remember what happened, maybe now more than ever, and Yad Vashem does a great job of remembering the victims as well as gentiles who risked their lives to help others, often complete strangers. But everywhere you look around the complex, you're confronted with murder, atrocity and man's inhumanity to man. The message is positive. Despite the genocide, people survived and life continued. But the Holocaust Museum is difficult to walk through and the Children's Memorial is just heartbreaking.

I can almost understand racism, as an abstract psychological theory. People in different cultures do act and look different. I grew up in Minnesota, so to me, people in California and New York are weird. Then I moved to China. California is weird, but China is like a completely different world.

If you're the kind of person who has a problem with others doing things differently, it might be easier for you to hate them. I spend some time online. Probably too much. I see a lot of people who are outraged when someone does something differently. Add different skin colors and religions and the internet would be a war zone if it wasn't online. And when your politicians tell you to hate the people who are different, that makes it easier, I suppose. That almost legitimizes your blind hatred.

But there has to be something seriously wrong with you if you want to murder people for being different. That's just insane. And killing children – tiny, innocent people who don't even know why you hate them. That's just evil.

There's a picture in the Holocaust Museum of some Nazi asshole about to shoot a mother holding her baby. He's smiling. He's going to kill this woman who's not a soldier and her baby, who's definitely not a soldier. And he's having the time of his life. And why is he killing them? Because their religion is slightly different from his.

Nazis were not monsters. They were far scarier. They were humans who voluntarily abandoned their own humanity just because their political leaders told them to. Yad Vashem does a great job in pointing out that this was not an anomaly of mythical figures rising up and killing people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nazi leaders were opportunists who took advantage of terrible economic conditions and a disaffected public. This was not an isolated incident. This was something that can easily happen again and again.

The entrance to the Children's Memorial is a like cave. It gets darker the deeper you go inside. Once you're in, it only gets a lot worse.

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No hate, please. There's enough of that in the world already.