You can’t rewrite history, but some people are trying — and they do so at the peril of the entire world.

A Florida school principal recently was under fire for refusing to acknowledge the Holocaust as historical fact. His reasoning: “Not everyone believes it.” It’s hard to imagine how anyone, much less an educator, could allow anti-Semitic — or at least, backward — viewpoints to color his thinking. Not everyone believes the Tulsa Race Riots virtually destroyed a thriving “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, though the evidence proves it. Not everyone wants to admit the Oklahoma “Land Run” allowed a group of interlopers to run roughshod over Native tribes already living here, but that’s precisely the case.

The teacher in question has been reassigned, but some feel he should no longer be teaching. He had already told the Palm Beach Post that the district’s Holocaust education went above and beyond what the state required. The history of that horrific event has been required in Florida public schools since 1994, and if anyone wonders why the mandate, they need only look at the population figures. In that county, the Jewish population numbers 134,200 or more, and many of those residents have memories that take them back to the very days of Hitler’s nightmare.

This “denier” mentality is not new, and there’s evidence to show the trend is growing. Whether it’s through lack of learning or hate in the heart is anyone’s guess, but it can be seen regionally on social media, where some folks express a somewhat dismissive attitude toward the Trail of Tears, suggesting the horrific nature of that forced march is exaggerated. And this, in Indian Country — in the capital of the Cherokee Nation!

This type of denial should not be confused with the scientific premise of “climate change.” While many argue that both types of heads-in-the-sand disbelief can spell the doom of humankind, the ultimate proof only comes when it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s the case with historical tragedies we’re too ashamed to own as a people.

In any area of the country where genocide, crimes spurred by widespread bigotry and hate, or other similar events have occurred, the history curricula in schools should reflect those facts, and they should be burned upon the memories of students. The alarming sympathy in some quarters toward Nazi philosophy should be a clear sign that some folks are beginning to “forget” history. And as philosopher and writer George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” No rational person wants that.

The Tahlequah Daily Press

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