By Marcus White, Editor-in-Chief
On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer quipped that not even Hitler stooped so low as to use chemical weapons on his own people. This was in reference to the gas attack in Syria last week, where forces, supposedly in line with the Assad regime, used sarin gas on its own civilians.
There is only one problem with Spicer’s statement. It isn’t true, and there are six million Jews who would testify to Spicer’s false comment; but they can’t. Mr. Spicer also referred to concentration camps as “Holocaust centers,” rather than the death camps they really were.
As the vocal mouthpiece of the Trump Administration, these remarks are intolerable. One might think of these as Spicer being at a loss for words. While that defense may be legitimate in certain circumstances, Trump officials have sadly already shown they are tone deaf to a whole host of race-related matters as they affect the United States.
Whether it has been Spicer’s most recent comments, or Trump himself asking an African-American reporter to help him arrange a meeting with Black members of Congress. The list could go on; it’s not even worth getting into Trump’s (Muslim) travel ban attempts.
“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” These are the words of Elie Wiesel, a 20th-century writer and Holocaust survivor.
Memory and history are everything. Without them we cannot learn from past mistakes, and moving forward as a civilization is impossible. This is why as a society we have chosen to keep places such as Auschwitz and other sites of atrocities standing, to ensure they never leave our living memory.
Sadly, even with these monuments to tragedy, people have yet to learn. Last month, as reported on in the Promethean, several flyers were found on campus from a white supremacy group. While some may dispute that label, I do not, and I am choosing to call out the rhetoric for what it is: hate speech.
While this speech is protected under the Constitution, to dismiss it is a grave error. Across social media, including on our own website, we had plenty of comments from people who sympathized with the message of the posters. The problem is, it is doubtful any of them knew what the message was.
Just because something is cleverly hidden behind a legally acceptable medium, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have malicious intent. A quick look at the organization's website included more Nazi allusions thaen one could keep track of, including slogans such as “Take back Europe and America for Whites.” If this isn’t hate speech, then clearly the reader is denial.
The problem here, of course, is that America is not a white, Christian country. It never was and it never will be. Patriots take heed: the law of the land says there is no legal state-sanctioned religion. On top of that, this country isn’t white land either, it’s Native American land. We are solely here because many of our ancestors colonized the Americas for themselves and for hundreds of years following many more followed taking the land from its native inhabitants by force and then kidnapping millions of Africans to work as slaves on on the land they claimed.
It is this aversion to what history actually is what makes comments like the one by Spicer so problematic. Society has forgotten what it has done in the past to minorities. There are activists and others running scared in this country. From anti-Muslim rhetoric to the rise of neo-Nazi related incidents in the country to this week, with the Press Secretary being one step away from Holocaust denial, there are serious reasons to be concerned for the direction the United States is taking.
To those old enough to remember the World War II era, the Civil Rights era, or were raised in culture (such as Judaism) where past hatred hangs heavy over all that makes you who you are, these are indeed scary times.
Too much faith has been put in the status quo to know what is right and what is wrong. Organizations representing minorities have a duty to educate the rest of the country on who they are and why the willful ignorance of the white majority is poisonous to future of this country.
If you don’t believe me, speak to the descendent of a Japanese-American who was put in an American concentration camp during the 1940s. If you don’t believe me, ask one of your friends who is African American about how racial segregation affected their culture. If you don’t believe me, ask a Syrian refugee about the terror of ISIS, and the U.S. political decision to bar Muslim refugees.
And after all that, if you still can’t resign yourself, take a trip to Europe. Go to Auschwitz and tell me one more time why this country is headed in the right direction.