Historical Amnesia
by Jerry Gilio
June 2, 2007

People never cease to amaze me, and not in a good way.

Last night I attended a performance of "The Diary of Anne Frank" at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. As I left the theatre I overheard someone comment, "It would have been cooler if it had been a true story."

You must understand that there were posters in the lobby of the theatre describing the actual events. There were photos of Anne Frank and her family. There were photos of letters Otto Frank wrote to try to obtain visas to come to America. There were photos of the extermination camps where they died.

We all hope that the world will never again see the horrors that became Anne Frank's life. But I wonder how we can avoid them if people can be so ignorant about the truth of those horrors and how they came to pass.

Such cruelty never springs into the world fully formed. It grows little by little over time. The reemergence of the political techniques that nurtured such horror is what could pose a threat to the future. The only way to avoid these manipulations of society will be to recognize them for what they are and put an end to them before it's too late.

So the next time you dismiss someone as an alarmist when they draw comparisons between contemporary events and historical ones, make sure you know the history. No nation was ever convinced to kill millions of innocent people by accident. No group was ever convinced to launch a suicide attack and kill thousands of innocent people by accident. It's always carefully planned. History is the only way we have to recognize such plans if we see them again.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
spacer- George Santayana (1863 - 1952)

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