I learned yesterday, a former colleague passed away. She was an interesting person whose history was a lesson in and of itself. Her mother escaped Nazi occupied Poland with her on her mother’s back as a toddler, running across a field with machine gun fire over their heads.
I think of this story when I hear of people who dismiss the evil perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II as a hoax or fake news. Over 6 million Jews died horribly and ignobly at the hands of the Nazis.
Context is important. Perspective is important. Dismissing or downplaying things as a hoax or not real does a disservice to those impacted. When I watch “Finding your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, invariably, when he looks at the history of people with Eastern European descent, the guests’ forebears got out of Europe just ahead of the pending genocide. The relatives of their forebears who remained were not so prescient and suffered greatly.
I have heard more than a few folks say COVID-19 is a hoax or not that big a deal. The outgoing US president has been one who has done both. Yesterday, my local newspaper indicated, by zip code, the rate of COVID-19 cases. In the richer zip codes, the case rate per 100,000 is about 50% to 60% of the rate in the less wealthy zip codes. Why?
The less wealthy zip codes have a greater preponderance of families with two jobs or more. They also include a greater preponderance of people who do not have the luxury of working from home and work more retail, restaurant and service jobs. The exposure is much higher, as a result.
My niece teaches in a private school that is up and running with needed mask, social distancing and hygiene precautions. She noted they have no known cases. Yet, when I made the observation above, she agreed there is that bias toward more healthier families. So, public schools have a greater risk given the cross pollination of exposure from more zip codes.
I mention these two examples as we must try to walk in people’s shoes. We cannot imprint our own experiences without recognizing that perspective bias. As for those who deny the Holocaust, that involves another degree of subterfuge beyond just not knowing. There is an effort in some countries, including the US, to white wash history.
If we don’t know our history, then we are destined to fall into the same mistakes. I am not a fan of drawing parallels to Nazi Germany, but the rise of authoritarianism is built on leaders denouncing the truth tellers and spreading misinformation. White washing history is not a new thing.