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Addressing Holocaust trivialization

By McKenzie Ward

Between 1941 to 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators orchestrated a genocide that systematically murdered over 6 million Jewish people and millions of others.

Not only did the Nazi party target Jewish people, but they targeted and killed people of other groups including Roma, Slavic people, members of the LGBTQIA+, disabled people, and people of different political opinions, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

By the end of the war, every two out of three European Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, according to the USHMM.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, a concentration camp located in Poland, was only liberated 77 years ago meaning there are only 77 years separating us from the horrors of what happened in Europe under the control of the Nazi party. There are still survivors who are alive today and who continue to tell their stories.

Despite the tragedy which stems from this genocide, over the years Holocaust trivialization has become prevalent in the world and it needs to be addressed.

Holocaust trivialization is any inappropriate comparison or analogy of the Holocaust that was meant to diminish the magnitude of the genocide, the actions of Nazi Germany, and of the murders of millions of individuals in Europe. In the last two years, I have seen a concerning number of people trivializing the Holocaust in the name of their own political agenda.

In May 2021, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attempted to require that all members of Congress wear a face mask on the chamber’s floor. In response to Pelosi’s request, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) compared the face mask rule to the steps the Nazis took to control Jewish people during the Holocaust.

“You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about,” said Greene.

I was repulsed to hear someone compare being asked to wear a face mask during a pandemic caused by a virus which is passed through droplets from an infected person’s breath, cough, or sneeze to the Nazi Party’s requirement of Jewish people to wear the Star of David on their clothing as a way to discriminate against them.

Pelosi’s request for members of Congress to wear a mask in order to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 is in no way comparable to Nazi decrees mandating identifying badges which were used to segregate Jewish people from the rest of the population.

In Washington, state Rep. Jim Walsh, a Republican, wore a yellow Star of David on his shirt during an event to “protest” the COVID-19 vaccine and the mandates associated with it, according to NBC.

When Walsh was asked at the event if he was wearing the Star of David to make a point, he responded with, “It’s an echo from history. In this current context, we are all Jews,” according to NBC.

These are just two examples of individuals trivializing the Holocaust in order to advance their political agenda. And while many people called Greene and Walsh out for their antisemitic comments and actions, they are not the only ones making these harmful comparisons.

According to the Combat Antisemitism Movement, there have been over 60 million online engagements linking pandemic-related issues with Holocaust terminology.

These acts show a lack of understanding the significance of the Holocaust and the impact these statements and actions have on the victims and survivors of this genocide. In no way is asking someone to wear a mask even similar to the concentration camps, death marches, or the systematic killing of millions of people that occurred during the Holocaust.

Rather, these vaccine and mask mandates have and are continued to be implemented to prevent further deaths, and as of Feb. 10, over 912,000 people have died from COVID-19.

Greene, Walsh, and others who use the tragedy of what happened during the Holocaust – you should be ashamed to use this atrocity to advance your political beliefs when you should be spending this time to educate yourself on what has happened.

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