“Never again” has turned into “Again and again.” Again and again, the response to genocide has been too little and too late. During the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, the world’s response was denial.” … The International Campaign to End Genocide
In early April I had the opportunity to listen to Ann Wright speak about the crisis in
A man in the back row stood up and spoke an accent and speech impediment that made it difficult to understand what he was trying to say. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or emotionally distraught. But one determined declaration came through loud and clear. “From now on” he said “I will deny the Holocaust.”
No one reacted audibly to those words. Ann didn’t pursue that part of his statement, and soon enough other questions were posed and the moment disappeared into the night.
I had always considered denial of the Holocaust to be a rejection of historical facts or anti-Semitic race baiting. Yet my initial reaction wasn’t to view this Palestinian man as either ignorant or a Muslim extremist. He didn’t fit into either mold. His words “from now on” meant he was obviously aware of the historical reality, and there was no one in the audience he seemed to be challenging.
Literalism is fraught with conclusions that lead to irresolvable conflict, and I realized I had been caught in one that promoted ignorance and prejudicial judgment on my part. It made me wonder about how Americans demonize Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for making the same statement. Is there more to their meaning which we conveniently choose not to consider?
Whether it was pain or anger, the Palestinian man was genuinely sharing his grief regarding the Israeli attack on
I’m not suggesting that
“Never again” begins by seeing that we are all susceptible to labels, stereotypes and other forms of prejudice. It prevents us from the difficult work of understanding the way other people see our world and its history. "Never again" is our responsibility to an end the collective suffering that discriminatory judgments impose on people of any ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Our responsibility in "never again"
Posted by Rich in Juneau