Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Hitler's Hallowe'en

Oh dear, Cathy's getting serious again.  But I really need to, I want to share something and get your input.

On this morning's news I heard how a high school across the river in New York allowed its students to come to school in costume yesterday.  Mostly pirates, a few Gene Simmons' and one in particular which gave the principal another 100 gray hairs.  A senior came as Hitler.  The whole get-up, Chaplin moustache, swastikas all over his sharply pressed uniform, riding crop in hand, high leather boots ... the teachers were in cardiac hyper-mode, many fellow students duly outraged and of course, it made the news.  The young man explained he was a "parody" of a famous person from history, what's the problem?  And indeed, after pow-wowing this matter a bit, the principal could not get the boy to please either change or leave, he was being "offensive and disruptive".  They asked if his parents knew; he proudly exclaimed they knew and supported his "courage" in exercising his right to free speech, freedom of expression, all those good "frees".  So they were stymied - they left it as it was and tried to keep the atmosphere quiet, watching the clock and praying for it all to end. 

But I heard something at the end of the broadcast which made me think (sorry, I dared myself).  At the end of the day, the young man took off his gear, put on a large coat and made his way to the subway which he used to get home.  Isn't that odd?  Every other kid went home in costume, since that's how they arrived.  But this one didn't, something inside him KNEW he couldn't get on that subway, with adults instead of teens, with real people he didn't know, dressed as "a person of history" responsible for so much anguish and blood-letting and pain that it hurts just to think about.  He KNEW someone on that train might even be one of the slowly dying-out survivors of the holocaust, exactly what would he say to THAT person?  So he KNEW.

If I were involved in this mess in some authoritative way, I think I know what I would've done and I really want to hear what, if any, action YOU would've taken: 

I would've gotten comfy with the kid and talked about his parents a bit, he seemed to get along with them and they sounded like latter-day hippies (as an original, I can say that's not a good thing).  I would've told him I planned on wearing a costume myself, a "parody" of someone to use his wording.  I would've asked to see a picture of his mother, asked about her mannerisms, how she walked and talked, every detail he could think of.  I'd explain it was because I planned to go out dressed as a "parody" of his Mom.  My right, right?  Freedom of expression, of speech.  And perhaps to add to the fun I'd dress in the latest hooker gear, smoke and curse and go house to house offering the tricks a treat.  Something along those lines.  I'd ask him how this would make him feel, would he mind?  Any problem there?  Because God knows I wouldn't want to offend.  And I'd do it this way because if you ORDER this young work in progress to change his clothes, he'd never have the chance to find that place in his heart which told him the difference between a cursed act and just plain cruelty.     

When a teen does something outrageous like this, I think he's really just being young, and with the arrogance of that youth, doesn't see the hideousness of parading as Hitler for a laugh.  He knew he'd cause a stir, he did, and I really think that's all he wanted, nothing about the First Amendment was on his mind at all.  That was his parents, and therein is where I'd lay blame.  Blame and hopefully instill shame, that the people responsible for the formation of a decent human being could get things so mixed up and permit such a caustic, cruel act - worse, using their own son to do it.  He, of course, was happy to oblige as most teens are where causing a mess among order is concerned.  That's nothing.  I really would want to hear how these Constitutionally-minded  parents would explain it all to just one Jewish person, just one.  

But talk about scary, I pulled this thread out further and found a monster I couldn't talk away:  the monster of the future.  Right now, a kid could dress up as Alexander the Great and gets kudos and candy, no one would think twice and in fact cheer on his or her originality.  The millions who died at the orders of Alexander, again during times of war, surely have descendents living all over the world.  Maybe in New York.  I know there's no comparison to the two men, yet both were adored in their time by the people they killed for, those who demanded the death of others.  My real point is that no one would take offense today at a "parody" of Alexander the Great.  So could it happen, then, that someday in the future another kid would look forward to Hallowe'en with his HITLER costume, go out in public, get candy and kudos and no one is offended or outraged?  THAT'S the monster that would keep me awake at night, because it's happened already and will happen again - where humans allow the healing balm of time to dull memory, even historical fact, and on we go none the wiser for the lessons of the past.        

9 comments:

lanurseprn said...

I agree with everything you've written here.  I wonder though, what he would have said if you'd asked him HIS thoughts on Hitler. Did the kid REALLY understand who this man was?  And if he didn't, he has to be enlightened.  
If a kid shows up to school dressed like that, a teacher should take advantage of the day and change the lesson plan to include Hitler's regime.  I have found that more and more young people really don't have an understanding of what exactly this man did.  What a shame, too.  Because, if it is to be forgotten, it will surely be repeated.
Pam

siennastarr said...

I agree with you on this...   However, AT LEAST this boy did know that the person he was paroding  could cause much more that a mere ruckus if he were to wear it outside the school walls.
Think about this.  If someone went to school as Jesus, people would be offended by that too.  He was a great man, and we are told to be as much like Him as we can be, and yet if someone were to dress as Jesus on Halloween, people would be offended.  Ironic, isn't it?

Hugs
Jackie

pharmolo said...

You can imagine the outrage when (I think) Prince Harry here in the UK turned up at a fancy dress ball, dressed in Nazi uniform. A faux pas of the worst order.

bobandkate said...

Hi Cathy,
It was indeed Prince Harry who turned up at a party dressed as a Nazi from the SS or the Gestapo - I am not good on military uniforms of the second WW!!! It did cause a ruckus here in the UK, but no lasting damage to the royals!!! I do think that the issue here, as in so many of the horrors committed throughout history, is one of education. This boy is obviously too young to fully realise the horrors of the Holocaust, and as such made what is considered a social faux pas. Yes, he probably did want to cause a stir, and yes, he probably did realise that it was not safe to walk around outside the school dressed as Hitler. But does it deserve to be on the news? I don't think so. What I do feel strongly, though, is that people need to be educated about the Holocaust. People need to have the horror brought home to them, by films, books or visits to the sites of the former concentration camps. Without knowing history, we cannot prevent such things happening again!
Kate.
http://journals.aol.co.uk/bobandkate/AnAnalysisofLife/

treesrgreen7865 said...

I must agree with Pam (Lanurseprn).  It would have been a wonderful opportunity to enlighten this young man and the whole school of whom exactly what Hitler did.  There is much teachings in our schools today, but I feel the history of our fathers and the knowledge given to the young today of those times is very limited.   What better opportunity than for the principal to turn the tables and this young man and give a history lesson to all.  The fact he did change his clothes, maybe of his own accord or that of his parents wishes  makes me feel that  he was well aware that the adults of this world would not approve at all.  Indeed, I feel as you his parents are at fault here as well.

TreesRGreen78

ab45yui said...

This young man probably had no idea how much attention he'd get, but it is obvious he was going for it to wear such a costume.  I think they should of kept his coat and made him go home like that.  Peers and others would of found a way to get thru to him at their level, it is not acceptable attire.  I went thru the Holocaust Museum in Wash DC, and my heart,my heart.  He obviously doesn't know, and if he does know, God help him, because my opinion and freedom to express says "He is one sick puppy."

hugsdoodlewacky said...

((((((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU)))))))))))))))))I think the young boy was just getting atention and He knew better not to get on that subway.I wouldnt dress my kids up in coustoms like that,even thoe I dont have any kids.My family wouldnt do that to my neices and nephews.Have a ncie night.Thanks for sharing.

halliday0957 said...

For my opinions on this matter read Lanurseprm at the very beginning of these comments. she has expressed my opinion so well I have nothing left to say.

Jim Halliday

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