Educate kids today to avoid repeating the past tomorrow

When the midterms roll around, think about the kids and what kind of future they’ll have

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

As the midterm elections fast approach, the main issues on the docket seem to be the same as they always are: taxes, infrastructure and healthcare, among others. One issue that I feel needs to be stressed is education. The education system needs help and students need to learn how not to repeat the horrors of the past. This is evidenced by the horrors that just keep repeating themselves.

In the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, the reality of antisemitism in the United States is being shown across the country. There are those who argue that antisemitism shouldn’t be an issue in a country that mandates the freedom of religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution — and we all know how much Americans love their first amendment rights — yet here we are.

The shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is the most recent in a string of antisemitic hate crimes. While on the surface, it appears that the United States is growing more accepting towards the Jewish community, there’s no denying the hostility in the air. This unease came to a head in Charlottesville last year when protestors holding tiki torches chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”

I wonder, in this supposedly enlightened age of technology and knowledge, how the spread of anti-semitism continues throughout the world. I would hope that past genocides would’ve taught us the value of human life, but unfortunately there are areas of the country where students are not learning about these tragedies.

There are growing numbers of children in the United States who are in school systems that view the Holocaust and other genocides as material too horrific to be taught in schools. While I respect the desire to keep kids from the darkness of reality, that doesn’t excuse people my age not knowing what the Holocaust is.

When I learned this, I was shocked. How, in my mind, could we possibly skip over teaching our young people about these horrors when the political climate at this exact moment is seeing a resurgence of antisemitism?

According to a document from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “The impact of contemporary antisemitism is not limited to Jewish people, individually or collectively. By cultivating ideologies anchored in hate and prejudice, antisemitism threatens the realization of all people’s human rights and the overall security of states where it occurs.”

This UNESCO document, titled Addressing Anti-Semitism Through Education, is drafted specifically for policymakers to craft education systems that both eradicate prejudice and create space for tolerance. Education can be the difference between cultivating tolerance and idly standing by. By educating the young people, the aforementioned ideologies of hate and prejudice won’t hold onto their hearts so tightly.

This is larger than a demand for a better educational system. This is a cry for tolerance in a country that decides to avoid speaking about the tragedies that the United States has perpetrated in the past and continues to perpetrate. This is a call to learn from the past and create a future where these horrors will never occur again.

The midterm elections are Nov. 6. They represent a chance for direct action to change the future.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].