Saturday, August 12, 2006

A reminder of my history class

I grew up in the sixties and seventies and in my browsing around the net, stumbled upon Der Spiegel's english site (which I check out from time to time), and saw it included images of the WW2. It reminded me of my history class in highschool as we learned everything we had to know from way before WW1, the 1870-71 war between Germany and France, till WW1, the period between the two World Wars and of course, WW2 itself, including the one fought in Asia. We were not spared the atrocious images captured by the Nazi's themselves, but in light of us being teenagers, we were given the option to not watch it if it disturbed us too much. I always felt I had to stay. In fact, growing up, the time leading up to our rememberance day (in May), we'd see a lot of documentaries re. the war, its survivors, the stories, the battles, the (dutch) resistence, the hiding of Jews etc. In that context, it was not as if we were seeing things we hadn't seen before; the piles of amaciated people where Goebels himself looks over to see and then sees someone being alive and a soldier dutifully finishing off the poor subject. In the process of some remains flicking up into Goebel's face to which he leaps off camera to no doubt, throw up. (serves him right) We'd seen the images of Jewish prisoner after prisoner, looking more dead than alive in their bunkbeds, the images of Hitler youth, and always always the message of our history teacher, never again! Never again not just in terms of the attempted eradication of the Jews, but the senseless killings of all people, since we'd have plenty of other examples in history to look at. Our history teacher showed us plenty of times, the Dutch complicity in history's events. Dutch traitors during WW2, Dutch merchants shipping off slaves for North America, the Dutch 'Christian' arrogant attitude when dealing with the East Indian people and the lands and people we subjugated in the quest for trade and trade relations. In that light, I want to address KT, where he asked me politely (coming from him, it is not a way to call names to shut me up) if I am anti American. KT, I grew up with a lot of criticism leveled at our own people and gov'ts throughout our history. The Dutch had glory times, but human nature and the ignorance of its times also gave us plenty of examples how fallable 'man' is, and how one has to have the courage to face their own checquered past (sp?). My history teachers in highschool always put our history into context and never made us feel that we were or are superior, because of the flipside that is always present, or can be present. It is a matter of vigilance. You can love your country, but hate what is going on. I can seem anti American, but that doesn't mean I hate this country. Anti-americanism in my mind seems a typical American term that subconsciously says, you're either for us or against us. I know this is not your frame of reference so I respect your observation. I am frustrated to pieces (to say it politely) with the way politics, most of all federal, is being corrupted. The US does enjoy a wonderful civic society and as such, still provides plenty of opportunities to speak up and rally against. However, I do think that in terms of effectiveness, it is mostly symbolic, and not influential. The explosion of the blogosphere tells me, that people want to communicate, not just regurgitate, and want to discuss. I grew up with family gatherings, birthday gatherings as a kid where the adults (relatives and friends) would have serious discussions and serious disagreements (!!) on all kinds of political (domestic and foreign) issues, social and economic affairs. They agreed to disagree and they still had friendly relations. They still kept talking. It is a given, that those who come to my site, will mostly agree with me. I wish I could gather a group, a la my relatives, who could agree to disagree and who would always continue discussing, issues of importance. Not pop culture, not the latest on stupid little baby Suri (sorry little girl), or, don't make me heave Ann Coulter. I vent part of the time, but I really do want to have peopel meet in the middle, a place where they can agree without having to agree with everything. I am frustrated, and I am trying to get it out of my system by trying to do something productive. Hopefully my time at KOOP radio will faciliate that. As one letter writer to the Austin American Statesman said;, it's nice that people feel strongly about this war (talking about the current ME conflict), but perhaps these same people could actually try to do something like writing to their Senator, Representative or something else. So if I do sound 'anti-American' and just seem to spout my views, I will say this; I will try to put my money where my mouth is and do something. But being and thinking critical is part of my Dutch heritage. Nothing personal though.

PS, here is an excerpt (and example of the ability to look at one's own history critically) of Der Spiegel's 'images of World War 2':
Many soldiers also kept cameras in their field packs and managed to snap explosive amateur photos. Though the Nazi regime conducted almost absolute surveillance, it encouraged its soldiers to take photos as a way of strengthening the connection between the soldiers' homes and the front to improve morale. The Nazis couldn't control all the photography, anyway.

Most of the amateur photographers chose innocuous subjects for their snapshots -- other soldiers in their unit, landscapes, memorials and even people in the areas they occupied. The photos taken by these armed tourists often made it look like their work had all the severity of a school field trip.

Nevertheless, many of snap shooters felt a sort of magical draw to the horrors of the war of extermination in the Soviet Union. Many captured the mass shootings of Jews or the hanging of members of the resistance on film -- pictures that were strictly forbidden by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS.

Many such horror photos were taken out of the pockets of dead or captured German fighters by Red Army soldiers. The photos then became evidence in the trials against German war criminals in the Soviet Union and later in the legal processing of the Nazi criminals in Germany.

The same went for the photographic evidence of the Holocaust, and especially for the photos take by Allied troops after the liberation of the concentration camps. The argument that quickly developed over whether or not these photos -- some of the 20th century's most shocking and difficult to bear -- should be shown, has continued until today. Do the photos of the emaciated prisoners lead to a kind of emotional blunting? Do the pictures of the mountains of corpses dishonor the victims anew? Or do they serve the purpose of education?

But discussions, there are.


Anonymous Yohay Elam said...

I always thought that the Dutch were very open minded. I meet them abroad and I'm always impressed by their open mindness, kindness and the great number of languages that they speak. Well, except the many languages taught at school, I see that also history education is excellent.
Israeli history lessons stop shortly after the state of Israel was founded, in 1948. You get to learn about more recent history quite rarely. It's just to controversial.
For me, being critical of my government comes out of great care for my country. I want things that things will be done better, and thats why I speak up. Being critical and speaking up is a patriotic act for me.
I guess quite the same for you Ingrid.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Jeremiah Bullfrog said...

I remember my history class...I threw a lot of spitballs in thar I tell ya! I dont really remember anything we wuz taught, but I do know I was thar...

BTW, what was Vietnam? I keep hyarin librals say stuff like, "Iraq is another Vietnam"

5:55 PM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

No need to apologize, Ingrid. I think it's only a matter of time before someone calls me a "Commie Bastard" on my weblog, but that comes with the territory when you're a liberal.

Most people who say hateful things in the blogosphere can't comprehend the possibility that you can love your country and criticize it when it's doing something wrong. That's not anti-American. That's called showing compassion and standing up for your principles, two very American virtues.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Yohay, I agree a hundred percent with you. The ability to look within is quite rare but a mature and necessary (and wise) one.. the ego is a bad place for politics but hey,what's new!
Jeremiah, I hate to tell you about Vietnam because coming from this liberal, you probably wouldn't believe me anyway!
Robbie, it is good to 'write hot' and 'read cold' and I think here, what KT was referring to is something he, as someone who doesn't put me down, has noticed for him! He saw a common theme and just asked about it. Of all people, I do not mind him bringing things up, check out the full extent of his comment in the 'courtesy of the US' post. He's quite a gentleman. Anyone else might have used the term as a put down, but not him. Like Jeremiah (except he's not like JB), you need to get to know him. He's an honest communicator and that's alright..
good to see you back Robster, I am working on an answer to your proposal btw..hopefully tomorrow buddy,

7:31 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

ingrid, honey, welcome to the world of- if you ain't fer us- yer agin' us- mentality. i have had to face that accusation many times and you know what? i was born american and lived my whole life here. you don't have to explain yourself to these types of people- they won't listen anyway. i recently posted the quote by thomas jefferson- most definitely an american-"dissent is the highest form of patriotism." i am fighting for my country- against people who think it is ok to kill people who aren't americans. i am fighting for my country where these people are taking away the right of freedom of speech and other civil liberties. that may be anti american to some but it is 100% american to me. they will call you names- and it is their right currently to do so in a public domain- but you are doing nothing wrong. don't stop.

10:47 PM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

No worries, Ingrid. I was in the middle of a little "conference" with a Minuteman-type who didn't like some of my recent posts when I wrote that. I apologize to KT. I never read his comments and I'm not going to judge him.

I gotta run. Have to finish those WSOP screen caps for the second Tuesday show before I go to bed.

1:39 AM  
Blogger KT said...

Hi Ingrid,

It was such a beautiful day today that this is the first time I have had to sit and read your post which is extremely well written. Pretty normal for us all to feel challenged when someone questions or differs with us, and I really do appreciate the way in which you have handled my question.

You have it exactly right; it was a theme I noticed and wondered if you were venting or truly felt that way. If you truly did feel that way, how did you reach that point of view etc. It also struck a cord with me, because I have been frustrated with the way the world has dealt with Lebanese/Israeli crisis and was trying to sort out my feelings about the US’s involvement or lack of it as well as the other “civilized” countries of the world. I guess I just expect more in this day and age. As I've said before, I have no agenda other than to expose myself to a variety of views because they are of genuine interest to me and stimulate me to examine my own views on an ongoing basis. Thanks again for your patience and understanding.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Betmo, welcome! I have noticed that theme from day one when I moved to the US. I guess it comes from not really having much exposure to other cultures around you like the Europeans are used to. Well, I'm sure there could be a few reasons. It doesn't really bother me unless I feel fatigued by the politics of the day.. I do think that there are a lot of people in this country who are independently minded and think for themselves. It does not seem though that there is a lot of public discussions going on or discussions amongst people for fear of 'disagreeing'. Sports and general stuff I think are the most talked about as people are afraid for supposed confrontations if someone disagrees. Not in Europe, you'll get a lot for speaking out especially if someone doesn't agree but no one will hate you for it. Or call you unpatriotic that's for sure.
Robbie, I'm working on answering you still in a bit. I was thinking about you yesterday as this show 30minutes (I think I've only seen it once before) had this guy Frank, a Cuban American minuteman stay with an illegal immigrant family with the resulting, sorta transformation of being closer to them and understanding. However, once back, he's still a minuteman but doesn't participate in border controls anymore..wondered if you'd seen it. See, anything 'san diego' and anything 'immigrant issue'..I think of you!
KT, you're an asset to this little blog with your questions and thank you for the kind're welcome always asking anything always..
Keep the feedback and questions coming!

3:53 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

interesting post here. i do believe that there are a LOT of americans that believe you are anti-american if you say anything against the war, the president or anything bad about the country. i totally disagree w/ this, but... feel that it falls on deaf ears w/ many.

you say to write to your senator or such... hmmm... i sit and think about this and really wonder if it would make a bit of a difference. i tend to say NO!!! sadly enough.

i grew up in the 70s myself but didn't learn as much as you in history class!! yeah, american history but that was about it!

5:04 AM  
Blogger zazou said...

Ingrid- good for you. Very nice post, btw- and good for KT who is willing to try and inform him/herself.
I got this kind of attitude plenty (complete crap) while working at the news station- but, as Jefferson siad- dissent IS one of the most American of values in this country and it is NOT anti-American to expect both the country and its people to live up to their creed and higher selves.
That said, school is not where all learning takes place. If you bothered to learn to read (my fellow Americans)- you have no excuse- just because your school didn't teach you this or that, it doesn't mean you get an ignorance is bliss card- you have a responsibility to yourselves and your fellow whatevers to be an informed voter, if nothing else.
(more on this later, gotta run- keep up the good work!)

4:06 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Tooners, are we from the same generation?? I can understand when you say you cannot imagine that writing to your Senator will do any good. Did you ever read the 50 things you can do or what ever it is called from the people? One of them is to write to someone in office even IF they are not from the party you voted for because they will still like to receive feedback. One person related their experience doing so and getting invited etc.. It's stepping out of your comfort zone or your 'zone' of expectation..I'll put my money where my mouth is and do that too.
I'll see who I write to re. the book on the holocaust of Rwanda and the Sudan.
Zazou! you are right. Some people will never have any interest in engaging them in something beyond their own lives or who are plain not interested, and then there are those who do. I mean, I have no family or friends in Israel or that region for that matter, but still, it touches me that I want there to be lasting peace and healing of past hurts..and I am not really a softy either. It just speaks to me as something that is important..hence, I read and read and read some more.
KT is a gentleman reader sans blog but an honest and sincere commenter. One to listen to when he comments, as he doesn't always do so but I know he reads things. An open mind yes, but..I hope that we can all have open minds to hear 'another side' of things.. I'd like to think that he's in good company here!

10:13 PM  

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