Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Accepting the ugly ghosts of American history.
On Monday, I was listening to a local NPR program called Charlotte Talks. The guest was historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff bka "The Last Nazi Hunter." Dr. Efraim tracks down Nazi’s worldwide and attempts to bring them to justice. You can tell by listening to him that he was passionate about bring these former criminals to justice. I was surprised that some countries that Dr. Zuroff found Nazi’s in did not want to cooperate with him. He has a tough thankless job and his only reward is when a Nazi is convicted. During the interview, only one email into the show gave the whole “Jews made the Holocaust up” speech…yada yada yada. These are the same people that debate the actual numbers of slaves on a slave ship.
While I was listening to this fascinating man I had a thought. What would happen if a minority historians spent their lives tracking down people that terrorized their ancestors? Would the legal system prosecute cases starting from the founding of America until now? Better yet - would people even care? It seems we live in a society where history is in the process of being re-written. History Revisionists are trying to make their ancestors look less culpable in violent acts that took place on American soil. Other History Revisionists aren’t teaching their children the history of their ancestors because they are ashamed. Unlike these revisionists, Dr. Zuroff has chosen to embrace history. He has even embraced the parts that hurt the most. I don’t feel sorry for Dr. Efraim and I don’t think he is carrying around baggage. The people that should feel sorry are those Nazi’s he’s hunting.