ROSARIO: Horrific acts, tragedies should be considered without comparison
Opinion Column: The Mainstream
Many evils drag themselves across the ends of the earth.
Are those evils relative? How might we decide what the pinnacle of evil is?
People often hold the Holocaust as a pinnacle of mass tragedy and evil. Perhaps this is because people need to compare tragedies to understand the magnitude of certain events.
This is wrong.
The Holocaust was a mass slaughter of millions of people. Painful experiments were conducted on the living that often resulted in death, which reared its head through shooting squad executions, gas chambers, lynching and starvation.
In this very article alone, there is no way I can bring justice to how horrifying these events really were.
In light of this, the Holocaust should not be compared or contrasted to other tragic events. Not only does this take away from the event itself by attempting to move it into a category, but also it can, in some cases, undermine the severity of the Holocaust.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as Yad Veshem in Israel both display thousands of shoes from people in the Holocaust in large glass containers. It is a moving and beautiful metaphor. The piece brings life to the adage “put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” It is also a visual example of the amount of people who endured those traumas and were contained in camps.
In March 2018, thousands of shoes were spread across the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in solidarity with immigrants being held in camps in the U.S. This ode was respectful. It was beautiful and also moving. While it used a similar idea to the glass case of shoes, it did not go as far to make a direct comparison. To say it did would be overly-sensitive.
During the summer of 2018, an image circulated around Instagram. The top left of the image read: “(President Donald J.) Trump’s camp.” Underneath this was a bird's-eye view photo of large tents where immigrants were being held captive. Directly next to this, the top right of the image read “(Adolf) Hitler’s camp,” showing a bird's-eye view of the long red roofs and the courtyard of a concentration camp.
The bottom of the image was a quote by author Aviva Dautch: “I’ve seen several tweets comparing this to Nazis/The Holocaust and saying things like ‘this is how it begins.’ I teach Holocaust literature so let me be clear — this ISN’T how it began. This is already several stages along the way”.
Firstly, this post very much used the Holocaust as a measuring stick. On this stick, the Holocaust sat on the scale as the highest evil.
The image coupled with Dautch’s quote insinuated that a mass genocide of Latin American immigrants had already started in the United States. While this very well could be a possibility, it is unlikely. There were no immigrants being shot down by gun squad, no experiments and no lynchings.
The political climates and previous histories do not line up. Yes, the Jewish people were ostracized in 1930s Germany. Yes, immigrants were and are wrongly being expelled and held hostage in this county. Yes, many people compare Trump to Hitler, and at times, rightfully so.
But, it is just too big of a comparison to make. Germany and America in the 1930s are very different than today.
Today, technology is more advanced. The advancement of technology alone makes the image’s comparison invalid. This is due to the fact that the media’s technology today has led to more free speech. Free speech has been amplified due to quicker reporting and the very power of social media, which allows for greater checks on society.
While it is important to remember the Holocaust so it does not happen again, with its prevalence in schools and curriculum, it should not hold it as a pinnacle of human rights issues.
Using the Holocaust in such a way as this image does, in order to highlight the distress of Latin American immigrants in America, takes away from the human rights issues that were and are currently going on. It should not be coupled or measured on a scale.
It is unique. It has its own problems and issues that must be addressed. Many children are displaced from their parents, many people are sick and living in extremely unsuitable living conditions. I encourage the media and other sources to do research and promote the things that are happening to these people in order to create a change through the rallying cries of the American people.
But, human rights issues should not use other events throughout history to show how bad the situation is, for each one is unique. Unfortunately, this is not the first occurrence of compassion as such, and it will not be the last.
Brianna Rosario is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. Her column, “The Mainstream,” runs on alternate Mondays.
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