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Hateful sign at Minnetonka High School fuels anti-Semitism

Minnetonka student’s post represents a much bigger issue

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Hateful sign at Minnetonka High School fuels anti-Semitism

Tamar Gewirtz

Although anti-Semitism is far from new, it is not too often we hear about anti-Semitic activity taking place so close to home. When a Minnetonka high school student asked another out to Sno Daze using an anti-Semitic sign referencing Hitler, the incident was felt throughout all of Minnesota.

As a Jew living just one suburb away, in a community full of Jewish people, the anti-Semitic sign shook me to my core. Initially, I was confused as to how the couple could be so insensitive and how the school administration could have prevented this.  

I am not surprised, however, that such an event would take place in this day and age. The couple is a result of a much larger problem. Anti-Semitism did not begin and will not end with this couple. Minnetonka is simply a microcosm for the shameful environment we Americans thrive in: one that fosters hate and ignorance.

The current presidential administration hates certain groups themselves, as seen in the way they aim to treat immigrants and transgender people. Thus, it is reasonable to say that we can expect little else other than ignorant citizens to follow suit. When it is deemed okay to spread hate, especially by influential leaders, hateful people will not hesitate to do so. This is shown clearly in the rise in hate crimes, such as the infamous Pittsburgh shooting.

I do not know, however, whether the high schoolers were bigoted or whether they just thought they were making a joke. It was likely a combination of the two. This brings us to another widespread issue: these situations are not only a result of accepting hate but of accepting ignorance.

Perhaps then, it is not so astonishing to discover that one-fifth of millennials have never heard of the Holocaust, and an additional two-thirds have never heard of the Auschwitz concentration camp according to a New York Times Survey.

There is no doubt that Holocaust education does exist, and for the majority of people, the mass genocide is a serious topic. I myself have relatives that were victims of the Holocaust. Growing up surrounded by Holocaust survivor stories and education around the issue, it stuns me that someone could be so inconsiderate to make jokes regarding such a genocide.

I do not completely condemn the high schoolers for the unbelievable insensitivity that was exhibited by the anti-Semitic sign as they are ignorant and young; however, I do not want to dismiss this incident either. Although the students are at fault for their own actions, this should be an opportunity for those who are ignorant or hateful, to take it upon themselves to learn history.

By avoiding the past and by failing to educate future generations, people begin to forget what happened. As the prominent philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who do not learn history are condemned to repeat it.”

Furthermore, as Sno Daze quickly approaches, students should be mindful of signs they use to ask another student to the dance. Even if something is just intended as a joke, one should be extremely cautious; it is better to be safe than sorry. The situation in Minnetonka should illustrate that what one might find acceptable may actually, be humorless and insensitive.

As we move forward with our lives, it is not only crucial to remember the importance of understanding the past and educating future generations but to simply be aware of our actions to prevent such instances from occurring again. By doing so, we avoid the dangers of forgetting the Holocaust, trivializing it with jokes or the unthinkable: repeating it.

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About the Writer
Tamar Gewirtz, Writer

Hey, Tamar here! One of my favorite things to do is to travel, especially out of the country, mainly because I love trying new foods and seeing new places....

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Hateful sign at Minnetonka High School fuels anti-Semitism