Ignorance, bliss and power

One year ago I lambasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for issuing a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that had no mention of Jews in it. I found his words hollow, without substance, and displaying a shameful naivety and ignorance about history. He deserved the criticism. Last Friday he issued this year’s statement.

“Today, on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we remember the more than six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the countless other victims of Nazi brutality,” Trudeau began.

World leaders, especially of countries like Canada, should not require prodding to make right on a subject like this. But at least Trudeau acknowledged his egregious error of a year ago and has come 180 degrees. The new president of the United States – Donald Trump – also issued his statement. Here it is:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

There is not a single mention of Jews, anti-Semitism or genocide. What are we to make of this? Well, I have a few observations.

  1. The man is abysmally ignorant and insensitive.
  2. Anyone in his staff who is responsible for communications should be fired, and anyone responsible for communications who recognized the oversight but was afraid to say anything has no integrity and should quit.
  3. A statement like this plays into the hands of those who take ‘alternative facts’ to heart.
  4. Judging by week one of his presidency, he has an odd way of showing “love and tolerance.”

Not even the most robust Trump booster would claim that this President has a keen grasp on history and that is a dangerous thing. Why? Two reasons come to mind.

First, it has been said that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Second, it has also been said that ignorance is bliss.

This one looks like a Happy Presidency.

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