Monday, August 07, 2006

Living History.

Me and SWMBO managed to figure that today was not the day to go cycling. It was p*****g down and sounded pretty dangerous out there for a while. Instead we took a trip to Auckland Museum.

To be honest the Viking Exhibition was thin on real artifacts, big on replicas, short on context and left me feeling a weeeee bit cheated; which is a shame because the rest of the museum is pretty good, in fact so good SWMBO prefers it to Te Papa. We had a good day, though I figure it would be a struggle to actually get in without making a donation. I think there should be some kind of way to recognise that this is Auckland’s Museum, paid for at least in parts out of Auckland Rates. Consequently there should be at least one or two days a year when JAFAS should be able to come and go from the museum with impunity. It’s not like asking for boxes at Eden Park or anything is it ?

My amblings drew me to an interesting place and some equally interesting thoughts after the Vikings. I do have very mixed thoughts about Holocaust Memorials in the context of contemporary society and history. I will happily defend my comments about Zionists hiding behind the Holocaust these days and therefore hiding behind dead people, which is in my opinion shameful. I also know that this is a lesson we cannot afford to forget and even that the logical progression of this was a Jewish Homeland. SWMBO is well briefed on my feelings and therefore it was with interest that she took me into the memorial section in Auckland museum. First thing to note was the strangeness I felt at reading about the internment of the children of a Jewish Father and a Gentile mother by the NAZI’s. My dad was right, I would probably have been burned with many others. This thought however did not supersede my grasp of a broader issue.

There are a lot of holocaust memorials but very few Genocide memorials. The Holocaust represents a unique and outrageous example of genocide. But genocide is indisputably what it is. To only recognize this instance of genocide(holocaust) is wrong and misleading. One might presume that such atrocities no longer occur, or indeed that they are unlikely to do so in the presence of such memories. Neither of these proposals makes any sense. In the first place as Rwanda proved the will if not the raw material exists and therefore such things continue; as does the potential for future atrocities of a large and small scale. The Balkans too has shown evidence of an alarming trend. Genocide is commonly perpetrated by one group against another ethnically distinct party (can someone look this up for me ?). This in turn begs a number of questions e.g. could Maori have suffered its own Holocaust in the 19th Century ? Worse still it invites speculation as to who might be next and this is where history can teach us a great deal. Genocide is not a unique occurrence tied to the holocaust. It is self defeating to isolate the holocaust as a unique and self serving example of this form of brutality. To me at least, it makes far more sense to treat it as a problem that could occur at any time therefore requiring vigilance at all times, at any location and in all eras. In this light education, history and society would be better served by holocaust memorials being placed within a timeline of the history of genocide. That is to say that the holocaust will probably always form the centre of knowledge and experience in this respect, but it should be set in a temporal context that underlines the need for contemporary vigilance. In failing to do this we may miss the real benefit and purpose of such monuments in a modern age.

Yes I know this is me, the anti Israeli loon but read this carefully and then shoot me. As it is, this is the sort of issue that needs reviving and discussing in a modern context.

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