When we talk about atrocities like the Holocaust, often the slogan “Never Forget” is invoked. It’s a common call to action following major events like genocides in third-world countries or acts of terrorism such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s cliché to say that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, but that’s what the “Never Forget” slogan is all about. It’s a warning not to become complicit after an atrocity or injustice, in the hopes that we’ll learn from the event so that such tragedies won’t happen again.
It’s a struggle that we’re clearly losing.
Instead of remembering history and being the wiser for it, denying history is a plague that has become an ever-growing problem, particularly among young people. It’s hard to wrap my head around this because of how effortless it is to access information now, thanks to the internet. Indeed, most of most of us find it hard to imagine that Holocaust denial is actually a thing. There is bountiful evidence of the horror — records, photographic evidence, and eyewitness testimony. There are even several concentration camps still standing as museums of the atrocities that occurred there. Yet there are skeptics who won’t be convinced it happened.
Despite the evidence, according to a poll from 2021, one out of ten young Americans between 18 and 39 years of age believe the Holocaust never happened, and nearly a quarter believe it’s a myth or has been exaggerated.
Here’s why I bring this up. According to a recent YouGov survey, a slight majority of American adults (53%) believe that Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians in Israel. While that may be a majority, that seems rather low. Why is that? It’s because there seems to be a connection between the age of respondents and acknowledgment that Hamas is targeting civilians. While 76% of those 65 years old and older recognize that Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians, that percentage gets smaller with each age group. 62% of Americans between the ages of 45-64 believe Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians, 44% of Americans 30-44 years old say the same, and a mere 32% of Americans 18-29 years old agree.
It’s those young people again.
While the media certainly deserves a fair share of the blame, it seems to me that it’s not a coincidence that young people are more likely to deny the existence of the Holocaust and also deny that Hamas is targeting Israeli citizens.
If you wonder how it’s possible that, in an age where information is easily accessible, so many young people can deny the Holocaust ever happened, it becomes clearer when you look at polling on the current Israel-Hamas war, and you see just how twisted young people’s perceptions are compared to older generations.
The only possible explanation is that this is what they are being taught, and it is likely safe to say the problem of young people not understanding history or even current events is going to get worse. They’re being taught to hate, and they’re letting that hatred poison the way they see the world.