The Truth Matters

“Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

At the risk of piling on, I just can’t let go of the story of the former Spanish River High School Principal who questioned whether the Holocaust happened.

The story made headlines all over the world and prompted quite a local outcry as well with Boca Mayor Scott Singer and County Commissioner Bob Weinroth among others weighing in with strong words on social media. Here’s what the mayor said:

“Holocaust denial is a sadly frequent effort by bigots to rewrite history. Deniers’ attempts to lie about the incomprehensible suffering of the millions who perished outrages me as a human being. The Holocaust is a fact. It is a very painful fact for all of humanity, and not merely the families of the six million Jews and millions of others who were systematically murdered because of hate. Those families happen to include my own, as my children are the great-grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor.”

Bravo, Mr. Mayor.

In case you somehow missed it, William Latson got in hot water when The Palm Beach Post reported that he wrote an email that stated  “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

He went on to write: “I can’t say that Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”

Really? That’s preposterous.

The email was sent to a parent who reached out to Mr. Latson after being concerned about Holocaust education at the school.  Since 1994, Florida law has required that the history of the Holocaust be taught in public schools.

Mr. Latson apologized for his comments, before issuing a bizarre parting email to staff that made things worse.
Regardless, he’s gone from Spanish River High as he should be.

But the stench remains and it bothers me. It bothers me to my core.

Apparently, there are some folks who don’t think we should teach the Holocaust because they don’t believe it happened.

Tell that to the six million who perished or to my late uncle who survived a Concentration Camp and bore the emotional scars for the rest of his life.
What’s annoying these days is this notion that we are entitled to our own set of facts.

So if you don’t believe the Holocaust occurred, or if you don’t think slavery happened or if you don’t like what settled science says well you can just adopt your own reality.

Former Senator Daniel Moynihan used to say that you are entitled to your opinion but you are not entitled to your own set of facts. He was right of course. But these days…we’ll just turn the channel and join your own echo chamber.

For society to function, we need to agree on objective facts.

You can’t wipe out a Holocaust  because a few fringe characters didn’t think it happened. You shouldn’t be able to double down on lies when you’re exposed and then insist that your viewpoint is as legitimate as those backed by the historical record, or scientific inquiry.
Friends it just doesn’t work.

Back when I was a young reporter, “Schindler’s List” came out and director Steven Spielberg created a project called “Survivors of The Shoah.”
The purpose was to film and document the stories of Holocaust survivors so that humanity would never forget.

I volunteered, went for training and was selected to conduct interviews with local survivors.
It was a transformative experience.

We sat across from aging survivors and urged them to tell their stories so that future generations could bear witness.

I would tell those who question whether the Holocaust was real to watch the videos of the survivors and ask themselves whether they are lying.
They are most assuredly not.

The Holocaust happened. Slavery was real.
A lie is a lie.

All of us are entitled to an opinion.
None of us are entitled to deny reality. And educators who can’t tell the difference between facts and bull crap have no business teaching our kids.

Comments

  1. Frances Bourque says:

    Bravo!!’

  2. Steve Lampel says:

    It should be so simple to be objective about what is factual
    Information . However, in today’s world one can have an opinion
    Or distortion of truth and try to make it real!
    We see these lies every day as we watch what is going o
    On in this country.
    The inappropriate comments by the principal really bothered
    Me. I am glad so many people spoke up.
    However , what happens in areas where there is no Jewish population? Hopefully as time goes on this particular
    Distortion does get more credible

    Thanks Jeff for always trying to do the right thing!
    I have so much respect and admiration for what you try to do.

  3. Kerry Koen says:

    I am reminded of the comments made by Justice Robert Jackson at the Nuremburg trials. Generally, he said that it was not essential to deal with the commanders of evil forces and armies that killed over 6 million Jews and countless others in court because the evidence was compelling and the facts were clear. Historically, the victors would just kill such people and be done with it. Jackson held that the rules of law had to be applied even to these crimes; and the trials had to be public so that the world could know the facts. Essentially he said the process was NECESSARY to preserve the truth and details of these grave offences so that future generations COULD not ignore them or water them down so that eventually the facts would be doubted or even forgotten. This recent event proves that Jackson was correct. Society must always be on guard to keep the facts and truth before the world.

  4. Susan Lebrun says:

    The scary part is that this guy was able to rise up the ladder to become a principal.
    What else will we find when we lift up the rug?

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