Thursday, January 31, 2008

Commemorating Or Denigrating The Holocaust?

A friend emailed me this article from Reuters:
A Carnival float with a pile of model dead bodies commemorating the Holocaust is causing unease before the lavish parades in Rio de Janeiro this weekend.

The Viradouro samba organization, or school, plans to feature the grim display when it marches in the Sambadrome parade strip on Sunday, despite objections from a local Jewish group.

"Really, it makes no sense addressing this theme with drums and dancing girls," said Sergio Niskier, president of the Israelite Federation in Rio de Janeiro state, referring to the slaughter of Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two.

"There are still survivors of that horror who have the marks of that tragedy on their skin," he said.

Rio's Carnival is famed for the parades by samba schools with glitzy floats and costumes and street parties where costumed revelers drink and dance all night.

...Viradouro's parade theme is "Shockers" and it includes floats depicting the shock of birth, the shock of horror and the shock of cold.
The Holocaust and samba--is this the only medium to introduce the Holocaust to the man in the street? Is there a float for 'the shock of bad taste'?

The same person who forwarded me this article, also forwarded this to me with the same complaint. What do you think?:
An ambitious campaign to collect 1.5 million unused crayons has been launched by members of the teenage youth group at Congregation Temple Israel in Creve Coeur, MO.

The crayons are to commerate the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust, according to Jennifer Patchin, co-advisor to the Temple Israel Federation of Temple Youth (TIFTY) group.

...The group has currently collected more than 400,000 crayons. Of these, 150, 000 will be used to create a permanent memorial at Temple Israel. In the memorial, one crayon will represent every 10 children who perished, Schultz explained. The remainder of the crayons will be distributed to area elementary schools, along with a coloring book promoting tolerance and diversity that the youth group members are designing.
Tolerance and diversity appear to be an important goal--
“I’m especially interested in the cultural awareness that this project will generate,” said 17-year-old Molly Finn, chair of the crayon campaign. “I hope it will serve as a reminder of what happened, but also as a reminder of what is going on now in places like Darfur. Promoting diversity is important, and people need to know that it’s not OK to hate.”
I don't know if this is another instance of trivializing the Holocaust--after all, this is for children. But here too, the Holocaust is being repackaged for the audience--in an age when hating evil, never mind waging war against it, is considered barbaric (if not downright Republican).

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