This activity is designed to help students think more deeply about fighting prejudice. Using quotations from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism series, students portray their thoughts and feelings about a quotation through photographs selected from the Museum’s Photo Archive database. Some preselected quotations are provided below, but students may choose their own from the episodes on this theme.
After selecting photos, students will write an essay explaining their selections. The essay can examine some of the following questions:
- How does what this person discusses in the present relate back to the Holocaust?
- What about the photos you chose demonstrates this?
- Do the photos that you chose represent abstract feelings, concrete events, or a combination of the two?
- If you are matching images with emotions evoked from some of the quotations, whose emotions are you using? Your own? The victims or perpetrators? What emotions do you think the interviewee feels?
- Have you interpreted something in a way that another person may interpret differently?
- Is such interpretation subjective or objective? Explain your response.
- Is it difficult to put images to words, especially someone else’s words?
Students then create a PowerPoint presentation of the quotations and photos together. An example of such a PowerPoint using Michael Chabon’s Voices on Antisemitism episode can be found here.
“No matter where you live, where you come from, what language you speak or what religion that you subscribe to…we’re all the same people.”
“I learned as a young child that there’s so many different ways to do things—different ways of life, different schooling.”
“I didn't really experience a great deal of racism until I moved to South Carolina .… It was the first time in my life that people just didn’t like me because I wasn’t like them, I didn’t come from where they came from.”
“I always said that when I started playing basketball, and I was getting better at it, that the people who I hang around with, I’m going to bridge the gaps.”
“[The Holocaust] is about people being enslaved and people being annihilated. And this is a lesson, so slavery doesn’t happen anymore, so people don’t believe that they’re better than the next person. This is all about slavery. It just so happens to be spoken through the words of the Jewish people….”
“I totally understand the impulse to ban hate speech of all forms, including antisemitic content.”
“We can make people appear to disappear, but that doesn’t actually eradicate the underlying hate. And I’m deeply concerned that when we don’t see it, we don’t realize the fundamental damage that it’s doing within our society at large.”
“… I don’t see it as either effective at addressing the problems that we’re looking at or actually realistic in terms of truly banning it. I think it’ll simply go somewhere else and I think that it’ll go somewhere else that’s less controllable.”
“Hate speech has become very visible online in different forms and this automatically prompts people to feel very fearful—all of a sudden we think of it as there being more hate speech, rather than it simply being more visible.”
“… in some ways, when you see young people recognizing the darker sides of the world, they’re some of the most passionate people to really try to embrace and change the world, because they’ve got a long time to be living in it. And so… them growing up with the fact that hate is not ended at this point allows those with a passion for tolerance to really engage.”
“The number of people in the past two decades that crossed from the camp of reason to the camp of hatred is unprecedented. We are talking about millions and millions, perhaps billions of people crossing this line.”
“… one cannot compare what happened to Danny with the Holocaust. The size difference is unimaginable. …let’s not forget that even the Nazis tried to hide their deeds, either for shame or for fear. And here we have a bunch of people who boast their deeds, take pride in killing an unarmed journalist… they expect their audience to rally in their support. … their audiences do rally in support. So we are facing here a phenomenon which is unprecedented. The depth of hatred is not something that our recent history has encountered.”
“And this is a tremendous opportunity for people of good will to empower themselves with the electricity of togetherness and with the idea that they are not alone. That everywhere on that week around the globe, there is music being produced for tolerance and humanity.”
“So stop the quiet music that you have there, the quiet background music, and put something which shakes the listeners and calls for arms. A call for arms, yes. …Triumphant. Right. Ok. Good.”
“… we are all cracked vessels, meaning that as vanishing organisms in space and time, we have fears, insecurities, anxieties, sometimes even inner demons with which we all have to come to terms.”
“So the question is going to be: what kind of courage do we have to examine those prejudices that we do have in order to become more decent and compassionate human beings?”
“… the history of Jewish brothers and sisters and black brothers and sisters in the United States is a complicated one. …the age Europe, 1492 to 1945, where Jews actually are the degraded others. …1492: expulsion of Jews from Spain. 1945: indescribable concentration camps in Germany, Poland, and other places. Meaning what? Meaning that you had this history of a hated people, a despised people, a subjugated people, an oppressed people.”
“…in the United States, black people constitute the symbol of the internal exile, of the degraded other. … in the States, have the coming together of these two deeply despised, hated, and oppressed people, with their own paranoias, you know, with their own insecurities, but also with their own rich heritages.”
“But then you’ve got the actual interaction between Jews and black people on the ground in America. On the one sense, it’s magnificent, of course, because you’ve got significant number of progressive Jews who talk about southern lynching as pogroms, who are in deep solidarity.”
“Nanjing had a massacre. Japanese killed a large number of Chinese during the Second World War, but the Nanjing Massacre was not known or never taught until 20 years ago, when we learned about the Holocaust. How Jewish people realized Holocaust should be learned, should be studied, should be taught.”
“In Japan, there are always Nanjing Massacre deniers…China realized we should commemorate this issue, teach the younger generation so that they will not forget the history.”
“… they set up Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall; but after you finish this, you say, I hate the Japanese, because they used traditional way to present the case. But later on, they realized Jews did much better, to teach massacre in a different way. Not try to scare people, not try to create new hatred.”
“I believe antisemitism will come to China one way or another.”
“… the best way, I believe, is to help people to understand, give them background, and give evidence so that people can come to their own conclusion. Otherwise, they are not able to understand it and stereotype things, and antisemitism will rise among Chinese.”