August 17, 2017 [St. Petersburg, FL] — Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director of The Florida Holocaust Museum issued the following statement today:
Each summer, The Florida Holocaust Museum updates a different section of our permanent exhibition, adding new artifacts and technology. As it happens, we have been working on “The Rise of the Nazis” section over the past few weeks. If anyone has pondered on the relevancy of teaching about the Holocaust in 2017, the events of Charlottesville should make that clear.
I’ve been asked over the last few days to talk about the new face of American white supremacy. While no expert in contemporary Nazism, I do not see a new face. The neo-Nazis of today marched through the University of Virginia campus, thrusting lit torches into the air while screaming racist invectives. Who could witness that scene and not immediately be transported to scenes of lynchings, pogroms and auto-de-fes of the past?
People throughout the centuries try to justify their own hatred and bigotry by exploiting the fears and prejudices of their contemporary societies, using the tools they had at their disposal to try to make hate palatable to the general public. The “new face” of fascism in America is no different. While they may refer to their narrative as competing or “alternative”, it is not new. It is the same narrative of hate, coated now in 21st century clothing.
At The Florida Holocaust Museum, we use the lessons of the Holocaust to help identify the ominous echoes of history. We believe that the best way to combat prejudice and bigotry is to educate about the terrible consequences of unchecked hatred.
In that spirit, the Museum has partnered with Eckerd College to present Frank Meeink, author of Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead. I invite our community to join us in Eckerd’s Fox Hall on September 7 from 7-9pm to learn more about the white supremacist movement and, more importantly, to find hope.
About The Florida Holocaust Museum
2017 marks a monumental milestone for The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) as the Museum celebrates its 25th Anniversary. One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The FHM honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered of died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.org.