According to the Forward on January 26th, remembrance of the Holocaust will be incorporated into the Super Bowl this year. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, where any of the hundreds of thousands of people flying into the city for the game will fly into, is going to display the “Transfer of Memory” art exhibit. According to the exhibit’s website, “Transfer of Memory” tells the story of Holocaust survivors that now live in Minnesota. The exhibit features large colored photos of the survivors with their story written out below it. It will be displayed for the month of January and February in the airport’s terminals.
The intention of the exhibit is to tell the story of the survivors, spread awareness about the Holocaust and its survivors, and serve as a reminder of this horrific event. The “Transfer of Memory” exhibit truly gives a face to the survivors and impacts of the Holocaust even after 72 years have passed.
I think the significance of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport displaying this event is that it shows that the history and stories of the Holocaust are still very relevant and important. For the Holocaust to be remembered in conjunction with the Super Bowl- such a mainstream, American- tradition is a huge effort for mass, significant remembrance to take place. Thousands and thousands of Americans, on their way to see a football game, will be able to take one second to look the faces and read the stories of these survivors.
As we have discussed in class, the Holocaust in recent times is acknowledged in many ways, many times negatively through derogatory jokes or representations. Yet, the “Transfer of Memory” exhibit remembers the Holocaust in an appropriate way, using art and photography to give a visual memorial of the Holocaust. The survivors story’s serve as a historical account of the events and help us understand what the victims went through. I was excited to see that this will take place and that so many people will be exposed to the exhibit. The survivors stories are so meaningful and must be told. It is easy for those who were not affected by, do not study, or are uninformed about the Holocaust to forget about this tragic piece of history or feel disconnected from the victims. The “Transfer of Memory” counters this and will remind Americans that the Holocaust must still be recognized today.
On Bill Maher’s talk show, “Real Time”, last night, Maher discussed his favorite subject, Donald Trump. On this particular show Maher also decided to make a Holocaust joke. Maher started by talking about how Melania and Donald Trump’s wedding anniversary was the other day and how Melania was supposed to be on a diplomatic trip with him, but insinuated that because of the allegations of an affair between Trump and an adult film star Melania stayed home. The comedian finished the bit by saying that Melania went to the Holocaust Museum, which she went to on Thursday to honor Holocaust Memorial Day, in order commiserate with the victims. Maher was implying that Melania’s situation of being married to Trump was similar what Holocaust victims, joking that she wrote “I know the feeling” in the guestbook at the entrance.
To me, jokes like this minimize the reality of what Holocaust victims and survivors went through. For someone to say that a woman who made the choice to marry a billionaire and has everything she could ask for is in a similar situation to Holocaust victims because he doesn’t like the person she married isn’t original or funny in my opinion, and even the crowd groans when he says it. As we have discussed in class there are certain situations in which it might be possible to make a joke that has to do with the Holocaust, but I don’t think the context of either the comedian’s relationship to Judaism or the context of the joke makes it work. My concern with jokes like this is that people who see it but don’t know how horrific the Holocaust really was will never take the time to learn what happened, which is exactly how we get wide spread ideas that the Holocaust doesn’t matter or that Jews need to stop talking about it.
I’ve also attached a link to the Washington Examiner article that I first heard about the incident in: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bill-maher-makes-a-holocaust-joke-about-melania-trumps-marriage/article/2647302
Posted on Facebook on Monday, January 22, a woman explained the story of her great grandparents’ struggle in Nazi Germany. The author describes that she is applying for her German citizenship to be restored so that she has a place to flee if need be. She relates the political atmosphere in the US today to the atmosphere in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, suggesting that they are quite the same. The author included images of Holocaust paraphernalia in her post as a reminder of what hate could lead to.
As easy as it is to jump to conclusions, I believe ideas like this are quite problematic. It seems that comparisons like this undermine the impact of what actually occurred during the Holocaust. The author simply points out that the labeling of groups of people is problematic as it looks similar to the Holocaust, but the Holocaust was much more than labels. As well, one commenter referenced the movie “Schindler’s List” as a parallel to what is happening in the US today. I find this problematic as well, as Hollywood depictions of what occurred during WWII cannot be good representations of history. If the woman who shared this post and those who support it knew more about the gruesome details of the Holocaust, I don’t think these comparisons would be made. It seems that the American memory of the Holocaust has always been one presented in movies or novels as a sugarcoated representation. As discussed in class, many people during and after WWII had a difficult time understanding what really occurred in the Holocaust. This post reveals that perhaps not much has changed since then as the author of the post and some commenters seem to recall a more light-hearted depiction of the Holocaust than what actually occurred.
These old documents below are a reminder of what hate looks like and its insidious nature.I am applying for my German…
On January 18, 2018, while I was scrolling through different articles on their website, the Anti-Defamation League had a huge issue with politician Roger Severino utilizing a Holocaust anecdote to promote the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. The issue here is the fact that this division is basically an excuse for employers and other companies to deny healthcare services to people who they believe do not deserve it. A prime example of someone who could be affected are transexual people or anyone who do not identify as heterosexual; the healthcare agency could easily deny them services based on a religious or moral ground. Using the Holocaust in this light seems to be almost ironic in the sense that they are using it as a means to discriminate against people which is exactly what the Nazi’s did. Hitler even claimed that the reason he wanted to exterminate the Jews was on moral and religious grounds, how dare they try to flip this around as a means to allow religious discrimination.
Although this is not an example of an area of pop culture where the Holocaust is referenced it still raises an issue of how it is being used in America today. This is an example of a current politician using it specifically as a means to okay discriminatory practices among healthcare providers. That is just insane to me. The Holocaust is something that should steer us away from discrimination and lead us to a place of inclusivity not the opposite. There is really no excuse for a politician to use the Holocaust as a means to better the name of their Department.
On Thursday the 17th, the Anti-Defamation League released their annual report of extremist-related killings, and in 2017 white nationalists topped the list. While not all of the killings done by white supremacists were related to Neo-Nazi ideology, at least two of the murders detailed had ties to such organizations. First was the murder of Richard W. Collins III, an African-American student in Maryland who was killed by a member of the Neo-Nazi Facebook group “Alt-Reich Nation”. Second was the murder of Heather Heyer in August at the “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia. I found out about the report from an article that was posted on Tumblr, a blogging platform, that discussed the rise in white supremacist related murders since 2016. The report, as well as the press release that accompanied it, go into depth about both the incidents themselves and the motives of the extremists. I personally found it interesting that while it is statistically correct to say a majority of the crimes were committed by white supremacists, the two examples above were the only ones that explicitly mentioned Neo-Nazi ideology as a factor in the crimes. While I know there are many white supremacist organizations, I think the recent visibility of Neo-Nazi organizations and ideology made me assume that more of these incidents would be related to those. This is an important reminder to me that while Neo-Nazis are certainly still a massive problem that is gaining pop culture recognition, there are many other organizations that are doing similar work and harm.