Yesterday was YomHaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It occurs on the 27th day of Nissan, which is a constant, but on the Gregorian calendar, the date changes. This year, YomHaShoah was from sundown on April 18th to sundown on April 19th.
The intent of this day being recognized is so that the world does not forget what occurred, the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. It is a memorial day for people who died during the Shoah. Most of them were Jewish, but some were Roma (Gypsies) and Slavs, political and religious dissidents, the handicapped, and gays and lesbians.
So it was that yesterday, there were news articles and memorials around the world, talking about this day and the importance of remembering what happened.
On the same day, there was a news article about a new museum that has opened in Michigan – the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.
Perhaps it is not a good idea on my part, but being as I have an ongoing curiosity about humans, I sometimes read comments that are written in response to news articles. In fact, I am pretty sure this is a BAD idea, because it seems that the anonymity that the Internet provides people seems to bring out the worst in them.
Why was I surprised to find hateful remarks? I don’t know – perhaps I thought that people would respect the absolute horror of the events that have occurred.
I was wrong. In comments sections about both events, I could hardly make myself read things that had been written – everything from as mild as “what about (X group) and what happened to them?” (Answer – this is a day to remember victims of the Shoah, that’s why) to wishing that the job had been finished, or in terms of the Jim Crow museum, wishing for the “good old days”, to people saying the Jews brought it on themselves, the U.S. is soon going to cease to exist, etc. etc. etc.
I wish I could say that seeing things, hearing things, like this does not bother me. I wish I could say it does not bother me when people who have not been exposed to other racial groups casually toss stereotypes (whether they mean it with malice or not), when they attack other racial, ethnic, religious, sexual preference, or any other group that makes a person different. That seeing such words, written by the cowards who hide behind Internet anonymity – the same ones who hid and hide behind white sheets – does not hurt me.
What I cannot figure out is why these words hurt me. Is it because they are a reflection of a deeper, more frightening trend? A trend that started…well, at the time when humans recognized that they are different from each other, but a trend which has grown louder and more visible in recent times.
Perhaps I should have been a Sociologist, because the tendency of human beings to focus on our differences rather than similarities, to hate instead of love, to strike instead of reach out, is something of a mystery to me. Examples in today’s society abound – trends in Europe that show increased intolerance toward people from other countries, the out and out attacks on women and minorities in the U.S., the constant and unrelenting hatred against religious groups that are not Christians, the caste systems that persist in countries – I could list hundreds of examples, and never have any understanding of why.
And to be completely honest, I believe that it would change me if I DID understand why, because then, perhaps, I would agree with them.
I know that theories as to “why” people hate abound – it is how we are raised, religious fanaticism, the tough economic times, and all sorts of others. To me, they are excuses, not explanations. Somehow, I cannot help but think that there is something inside us as humans that seeks to dehumanize others, in order to make ourselves more human, and our actions acceptable.
But my question is – why does it seem to manifest only in some, and not in others? Do we all have latent hatred that we just keep under control? Do we all hold resentments against a person, a group, a nation, that we blame for our misfortunes?
I certainly hope not. And I don’t know how to end this post but with one more question, which is scary and not easily answered – What does this trend mean, for all of us?