So, an article came up in a newsfeed the other day and I can honestly say I was more gobsmacked than I’ve ever been in my entire life on this earth (around 40 years or so… 🙄).
First of all, I want to assure you I have not, and will not, ever ever ever be a part of TikTok. I don’t really get the premise outside of people dancing and singing and making videos to share, and the only person I know who actually uses it watches young girls shake their boobs and behiners (he’s my age). I’m sorry…call me crazy (many have 🙄), but I think this is a bit creepy…to say the least.
Anyhoot, there’s something called ‘trauma porn’ and it’s where people either ‘pretend’ to be victims of something or they use their own story in a sensationalized way for attention.
I knew this existed (because I’m just so gosh darn smart) but when I saw this picture, I was speechless.
So in this case, we have these young women pretending to be holocaust victims. Peeps…please read that sentence again. These women are pretending to be concentration camp victims and my question is who, in the name of all that is holy, would ever…in a million years…think it’s OK to appropriate this tragedy and use it as a way to get viewers on fucking TikTok? Seriously? I’m speechless (which is quite unnatural for me to be 😳.
As I often do, I’m typing this outside on my laptop (while Eddie and Dottie frolic around…eating poop…and yapping at absolutely nothing) and my beautiful neighbor came out with her dog. She asked what I was doing and when I told her about this trend and that I was trying to write about it, here’s what she said: “You know, people my generation have never really faced trauma or tragedy anywhere close to the holocaust and how can they even imagine what it would have been like? How could they ever presume to know that pain? They’ve been shielded from so much anyway.”
Since I don’t think I can speak for this generation, I wanted her too and I think she said this well and I agree with her. Totally.
As of right now, only 15 states have laws mandating that the Holocaust be taught as part of the secondary school curriculum. Fifteen. And each of the mandates differ for the states…some teach this subject matter in depth, others not so much. And then research that was done compared high school texts from 139 countries, and only 57 of them described the Holocaust directly.
I do teach about the Holocaust in my Intro to Sociology classe and go into much depth since I was so taken aback that the text I use in this class (a very popular and well written sociology text outside of what I’m going to say) only mentions the Holocaust once in the entire book. Only once? Isn’t the Holocaust one of the most horrific (if not the most horrific) human tragedies to have occurred in the 20th century? Isn’t studying the Holocaust a MUST when looking at sociological issues such as ethnicity, religion, politics, etc.? At first I worried that students might have learned the info I was presenting already and was surprised (and saddened) when so many told me they hadn’t. A couple of semesters ago, I gave a sort of pre-quiz to my Intro class before I started lecturing and asked them these questions:
- What year did Hitler become chancellor in Germany?
- What was the first country Hitler invaded?
- Why did Hitler choose yellow stars for the Jews to wear?
- How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust?
- How many people total were killed in the Holocaust?
- When did the Holocaust end?
To me, these should be no-brainers. And if they aren’t, then we are doing a great disservice in educating students about this era. And guess what? Only a couple of students were able to answer these in my class…most could only answer 1 or 2 of them. But they aren’t alone…in a survey done in March of 2018, 31% of Americans and 41% of millennials believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Also, 41% of Americans and 66% of millennials couldn’t say what Auschwitz was, and 52% of Americans thought Hitler came to power by force.
I’m sure all of us have seen images from the Holocaust and to me, it’s unfortunate that they don’t ‘trigger’ as much compassion as they should. I don’t really understand this. Is it because people have seen the images so often they cease to be ‘shocking?’ Is it because people see so much blood, gore, murder, etc. in the news/movies/games etc. that these images aren’t much worse? When my students and I look at these I tell them this: every bone was part of a son or daughter…maybe a husband or wife…or a mom or dad…or a gramma or grampa. Sometimes that helps put it in perspective for them.
Then you have the Holocaust deniers which to be honest, make me want to throw up. This atrocity is the most documented genocide in modern history…how the hell can it be ‘denied?’ David Irving was a fairly respected historian until he became the face for Holocaust denial by writing that gas chambers never killed any Jews in Auschwitz and then said this in 1991: “I’m going to form an association of Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust and Other Liars – or the ASSHOLs.” Charmed, I’m sure.
Finally, apparently it’s OK to take smiling selfies while touring concentration and death camps while on ‘vacation.’ I can’t even.
So, let me sum this up: only 15 states mandate teaching about the Holocaust, only 57 countries out of 139 have texts that address this tragedy but it’s OK for these girls to dress up in tatters and talk about how they died in Auschwitz.
So why am I writing about this? I think it’s so important to face history…not deny it…ignore it…or pretend it wasn’t what it was. We are living in a society where the ‘political correctness’ in making sure no one is ever offended is superseding the need and importance of honest conversation. And it’s not just the Holocaust being pushed aside. I was watching YouTube yesterday and the word rape was bleeped out of the video each time it was referred too. This was strange since the documentary I was watching was about sexual assault.
I looked this up and apparently, words like rape are being bleeped because they are ‘trigger’ words. OK. I get that. I was sexually abused for 2 years but guess what? I still say it. Educate about it. Talk about it. Yes, hearing about sexual abuse brings things back to me, but ‘it is what it is’ and if we refuse to face real life issues that need drastic attention, things aren’t going to improve. Instead of worrying about bleeping the word rape, maybe we should teach about it in high schools including clear information on strategies to minimize your chance of being raped and resources that are out there for rape victims. Isn’t this more important?
Who gets to decide what issues/part of history is ignored anyway? Or what words are triggering? Couldn’t we argue that any word or issue could be potentially anxiety provoking in someone? What about the word murder? Or stalking? Or domestic violence? Why aren’t these words ‘bleeped’ too?
Take some of the most commonly read high school books out there: In MacBeth there are 11 murders with swords/poison etc. along with other issues like insanity. Hmmmm. So….we can’t say the word ‘rape’ which happens to 1:6 women and 1:33 men in the United States, but talking about murder is OK. Really?
You know, I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Phil (I used to want to marry him… 😐) but I do agree with what he says: “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.” He’s right. If we ignore the Holocaust and allow people to basically ‘mock’ it with no retribution, how can we learn from it to make sure it never ever happens again. In fact, why is it that a derogatory tweet about someone can end a career, but people can do things like this and it’s not ‘punished.? Antisemitism anyone? If we try to sugar coat things like rape and intimate partner violence, how can we educate about it and work towards lessening it?
All I know is this: tragedies should not be used for ‘likes’ on TikTok (no words for this 🙄) and not facing current issues going on right now is simply ignorant…and this is not bliss. Personally, I think we need to take a long look at our priorities and maybe make some changes.