I had a surreal experience this week.
Someone posted a picture on a group that I am a member of, and it caused a bit of a stir. Here’s the picture:
Though the picture was a bit disturbing, it was the comments that were made under it that really threw me.
One person wrote that the picture made him happy. It was, he said, a picture of the human side of Hitler. People always say he was a monster but this shows that he was a man, with feelings just like any other person. And, the post continued, it was good to see that Hitler had some happy moments in his life. Maybe that child loved him and he loved her too.
Okay, now, let me just put this out there again: this is HITLER we are talking about.
So, because I am a rational person most of the time, I responded. And I said, in a nutshell, “Who really cares if Hitler had a happy moment? Why are you trying to humanize someone who was responsible for throwing babies into flames? And how come no one else is responding to this?”
So people responded.
But not in the way I had hoped. Here are some gems that I got:
“You attacking someone in this group is the same thing that Hitler did to the Jews!”
“You need to realize that he is not a monster, he is a human, and that’s why we need to see this side of him.”
“Can we get some moderators in here, because things are just getting out of control.”
Really? Out of control? Is discourse something that we need to be afraid of? Is calling someone to the table about their ideas suddenly taboo?
Soon after my post and the responses, came what I feel was the most disturbing part of the entire experience. The apologies. Not just for me, but for the original poster.
“I am sorry if I offended you with my response.”
“I am sorry for not seeing your point of view.”
“I am sorry I seemed harsh.”
“Please don’t leave the group. We value everyone’s opinion.”
Instead of finding people who would stand up for something they believed in, I was awash in people with no backbone, not stance, and overwhelmingly politically correct responses about my post, the picture, and the guy who originally pissed me off. It was a group love-fest.
I would have loved anti-semetic comments. Those are easy. But this oozingly sweet nice-fest, this let’s all be friends and agree that everyone has a valid point, reminded me of some pycho science fiction film. Actually it reminded me of The Giver. Remember that book? Perfect society, except for a couple dark secrets. But everyone was so polite, and nice, and wonderful.
Here’s the thing. You are entitled to your opinion, but your opinion can be wrong.
Like those people who, like Phish fans, started following James Holmes, the man responsible for the Aurora massacre.
I watched these saccharine comments and I was shocked. This was a group of 6,000 people. And every comment was simply a validation of anything that anyone said. I even got a few apologies for the Hitler comparison (for calling me out, not for creating a metaphor that was so tragic in it’s failure to work, mind you). I didn’t respond again to anything, because I was so thoroughly disgusted. And like the main character in The Giver, I just wanted to grab the baby, jump on my bike, and get the hell out of the community.
Which I did.
It seems like there is a fear of pointing at someone and saying, “That is all evil. That is bad.” There is something wrong with smiling at a happy Hitler moment. What are we scared of? Why do we need to excuse it somehow? And more importantly, why do we need to find humanity in a man that endeavored to destroy it?
Here’s a picture of humanity:
Because, more than anything, she speaks louder than Hitler’s happy moment. And those 6,000 people in that group should have all screamed with me and said, really, who cares if Hitler had a happy moment.
Their silence and complacency scare me.