Ignorance Is Not Bliss

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Madelynn Honeycutt, Reporter

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The Nazi salute has a long and painful history. Two-thirds of the Jewish population was murdered because of a belief that Jewish people were to blame for the downfall of Europe and Germany. Millions of people lost their lives, their families, and everything they worked towards because of something they could not control – their religion. Women, children, and men were murdered in cold blood for absolutely no reason. This mass genocide occurred because some man decided that he simply didn’t like Jewish people. The Nazi salute symbolizes the murder of those six million people. This is what the salute stands for to me.

During the senior picture photo shoot, a senior held up the Nazi salute. The student defended himself by saying that his actions were covered by free speech and that the symbol holds a different meaning to him.

What he did stands for much more than just the Holocaust. It stands for the hate in this world that you can still see today. Whether or not this was a joke, it perpetuates the fact that people think they can do and say whatever they want because of their first amendment right – freedom of speech – without any repercussions.

In December of 1965, a pair of students at a Des Moines, Iowa school peacefully protested the Vietnam war by wearing black armbands. As a result, they were suspended. How is a peaceful protest against war an act of defiance, where a child holding the Nazi salute is not?

Hate speech is abusive speech or writing to a specific group of a different race, religion or sexual orientation. Though hate speech is covered by the first amendment, why is it that people such as Colin Kaepernick who peacefully protested by kneeling during the national anthem faces life-changing consequences, whereas people who throw the Nazi salute in public are free from repercussions?

There need to be more severe consequences for hate speech. People have been suppressed for so long because of the fear of what people will say and think.

It doesn’t matter how you say it or to whom you say it, it’s still hate speech. Regardless of it being your right to say these things. Putting other people down because you don’t like their skin color, or who they believe in, or even because of who they choose to love is hate speech. This student did the Nazi salute and because of his right to freedom of speech he gets to walk away. What about the 6 million Jewish people that died for a cause that wasn’t even fully explained by Hitler? Those people didn’t get to walk away.

I had a difficult time writing this article because I know this won’t change the amount of hate and contempt around the world, but I refuse to be a bystander. I want to be someone that fights for what they believe in no matter how minuscule it sounds. Some people might think it’s been taken too far but I don’t think it’s been taken far enough.

 

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