Staff editorial: Holocaust comparisons are inappropriate

Editor’s note: This story was part of the Jan. 19, 2022 in-depth package that won superior in-depth package in the 2022 TAJE Best in Texas contest. It went on to win Best 0f the Best for Objective Writing. The in-depth package also received first place for best series/project in the Dallas Morning News high school journalism contest. It also won first place for in-depth news/feature packages in the 2022 ILPC contest.

Recently, a Tiktok went viral when an unvaccinated woman revealed her shaved head. She compared herself to the victims of the Holocaust who would have their heads shaved against their will, leading to many people speaking out against her. Though most anti-vaxxers don’t use the Holocaust to support their point, this is not an isolated incident. In recent news, we see pictures of people wearing yellow Stars of David to compare the oppression of Jewish people during the Holocaust to recent push for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

This type of casual, agenda-driven use of the Holocaust has spread to media outlets. FOX News personality Lara Logan compared Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the country’s COVID response, to Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor nicknamed “Angel of Death,” who subjected Jewish Europeans to gruesome experiments. These insensitive and harmful comparisons are antisemitic.

Often times, young kids are exposed to and participate in antisemitism without understanding the history behind it. It’s not rare to find swastika vandalism by students on bathroom stalls and textbooks around the country. Even if these hateful symbols can be erased, the effect it has on Jewish students can’t.

Students often don’t understand how important this part of history is to Jewish families. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly three-fourths of American Jews consider remembering and understanding the Holocaust an essential to their identity. At the beginning of World War II in 1939, roughly 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe. Today, there are only 1.4 million Jews in Europe, mainly due to the genocides that occurred during the Holocaust.

As Americans, we have the right to free speech, but for anyone to casually compare themselves to the roughly two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population who were murdered during the Holocaust is ignorant and insensitive.

Students read about the Holocaust or memorize facts for a test but they might forget that each of the lives lost was a mother, a father or a child.

Today, we have the resources available to learn history, and how it affects the world today. People should seek to understand and educate themselves and encourage others to do the same when they see antisemitism. For our community to feel safe to Jewish people, we need to start calling out hate and antisemitism when we see it.