Discussing the Holocaust: How a Simple Discussion Shows Why We Must Supplement Our Children’s Intellectual Diet

It has been stated that children are sponges that absorb everything around them regardless of its truthfulness or accuracy. While being interviewed by a reporter regarding the flap between Jay-Z and the Anti Defamation League, my son was sitting close by listening to the discussion. Once it ended, he offered the following. “My teacher taught us about the Holocaust.” As a History Professor, I am always interested in hearing how such important topics are addressed by K-12 educators. I must share that although I was interested in what my son was about to share, I realized what he had been taught before he spoke.

I was unsurprised when my brilliant son shared that the Holocaust occurred during World War II with the Nazi’s killing Jews. Even the expectation of such a grossly slanted depiction of the historical record did not prevent me from cringing. The alluded to negative response was less about my son and more about the impact that such misinformation would have on the minds of American school children.

I have always taken issue with discussions of genocide or “The Holocaust” for one simple reason; it appears that the Jewish community has trademarked the concepts and words for their exclusive and highly beneficial use. When speaking about the most common use of the term “Holocaust” most dictionaries define it as follows.

Holocaust: Destruction or slaughter on a mass scale.

In many ways, it is ironic that I, a former fellow at the United States Holocaust Museum, have spent untold hours combating those who strategically seek to cordon off the word Holocaust in regards to its non-religious usage for the Jewish community. Despite their vehement and always volatile protestations, it is clear that although the mass slaughter of persons of Jewish descent is a crime against humanity that should never be forgotten, we must also realize that such an occurrence was not a one-time occurrence. Although I have no interest in comparing genocides, American teachers are remiss when they fail to discuss the multiple and simultaneously occurring Holocausts that laid the foundation for Western Civilization. Most notably, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the extermination of Indigenous Americans across the North American continent as well as throughout the Caribbean. In many ways, the removal of historical atrocities against non-white populations sits at the core of why there is so little sympathy for the contemporary plight of the aggrieved populations. Without an understanding of Manifest Destiny — the belief of Anglo-Saxons that their expansion across the entire North American continent was both justified and inevitable ‘by any means necessary’ — it is impossible to understand the current plight of the Indigenous population. The ‘white-washing’ of history in this matter allows for whites to believe that the Indigenous Population’s primary problem results from personal failings such as alcoholism and not the actions of marauding whites who had neither a care for their humanity nor their survival.

It is for this reason that it is imperative that we supplement the academic diet that our children are being force-fed on a daily basis in American schools. Because if we don’t they will develop a perspective singularly rooted in a fallacious belief that the reason we have not is that we have not worked hard enough. And as you well know, nothing could be further from the truth because no one has worked harder than African people to build this nation called America.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

2 thoughts on “Discussing the Holocaust: How a Simple Discussion Shows Why We Must Supplement Our Children’s Intellectual Diet”

  1. I have had the same reaction but have been consistently confused about the appropriation until you put it so well in this post. I have never understood the singular use of Holocaust for one specific act of genocide when there were so many before and so many after. And, as you pointed out, why the atrocities committed against People of Color are particularly missing from the discussion. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for reaching out and commenting. Quite possibly the most disappointing thing of all for me has been the manner that persons of African descent are ashamed of their Holocaust experience as if they perpetrated it. That may be the answer to the issue befuddling us at the present moment, the Jewish Community embraces their experience and even operates behind a sensible banner of “never again” while other groups would like to deny that their experience ever happened. Thanks again for your comment.

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