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May 25, 2022

Have we forgotten history’s lessons?

At the end of World War II when the European concentration camps
were finally liberated, Allied photographs revealed the plainly
obvious proof of the once-rumored treatment of their prisoners.
Editor,

At the end of World War II when the European concentration camps were finally liberated, Allied photographs revealed the plainly obvious proof of the once-rumored treatment of their prisoners.

Pictures of the gaunt, weak, wasted bodies of innocent people nearing death were published in newspapers and magazines.

The truth shocked the world’s senses. That revelation caused civilized nations to demand justice and the perpetrators were tried for their cruel, inhumane acts against mankind.

In addition, many memorials, such as the Holocaust Museum, have been erected to remind us to never forget and never repeat what happened there.

Granted, it’s easier to recognize flagrant disregard for human life when it appears in overwhelming numbers.

We are finding, however, that it’s much more difficult to call it by its truthful label when applying it to a single individual. Qualifying factors can make a similar situation appear perfectly acceptable.

First, it is necessary that the person is considered unwanted, i.e., worthless, by those in authority over him. Second, the person is helpless, being unable to protect or care for himself. Third, the person is hopeless, without foreseeable change in his condition (in a “vegetative state”, perhaps). Fourth, it’s preferable that the person is voiceless. Fifth, we think the person won’t feel the treatment or, if he does, it doesn’t matter. And sixth, treatment is administered behind tightly shut doors.

We have already forgotten history’s lessons. Or are we merely closing our eyes to them? We need our senses to be shocked into reality.

We who permitted the starvation of a U.S. citizen on our own soil should have been forced to watch Terri Shiavo slowly, but oh-so-surely, waste away. If that sight and its implications for each one of us doesn’t give our consciences a twinge, then we may as well board up the Holocaust Museum.

Jackie Brandini, Gilroy

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