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Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Nazism in our brainwashed upbringing
Who is not shocked to see teenage girl students
happily dressing up in full Nazi regalia, outfitting themselves as Adolf
Hitler and SS Guards to celebrate their Sports Day -- totally unaware
that they were also celebrating the world's murderers who killed six
million Jews in a state-sponsored ethnic cleansing during World War Two?
What were the girls thinking?
What were their teachers thinking?
The news reports and photos on the Nazi-themed parade of the students
at Sacred Heart School in Chiang Mai has shocked and angered many, and
Various embassies have tendered protests, including the Simon
Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish human rights group. The
school, obviously shocked by the international outrage, quickly offered
deep apologies, and rightly so.
According to the school, the girls had no ill intentions at all. They
were just completely unaware of the sensitivity, or lack of it,
That I believe.
The school also said no teachers knew beforehand of the Nazi parade
theme because it has been a tradition for the students to keep it a
secret until the parade day.
That I don't believe at all.
Photos on the internet showed the school buildings decorated with
huge Swastika flags and a three-storey-high wall-hanging in fiery red
depicting Hitler and his look-alike caricatures doing the "Sieg Heil"
salutes, with the word "Nazism" splashed big and bold on it.
Putting all this paraphernalia in place needed prior preparation. How
could the school administrators and teachers not know about this? Why
then pass the buck to the kids alone?
According to news reports, when a group of expat parents and teachers
conveyed their shock and dismay to the school, they were stunned to
learn that the Thai teachers did not see how the Nazi parade theme was
With red as the theme colour, some have suggested a conspiracy theory
that the parade might be politically motivated to warn against what was
to come with the return of Thaksin Shinawatra.
Conspiracy or not, the insensitivity of the chosen theme is glaring.
How did this apathy come about?
Is it a matter of ignorance, which can be fixed by some history classes on the Holocaust? Or is the problem deeper than that?
What happened at Sacred Heart School is beyond the poor quality of our history classes.
To start with, I don't think the adults who knew about the
Nazi-themed parade are ignorant about the Holocaust. It is just that
they do not realise the danger of militarism and fascism. Nor can they
feel the pain of its victims.
Not that they are unkind. But for people who have grown up in a
country where toddlers are ordered to turn left and right like soldiers
since kindergarten, while the male high school students are forced to
cut their hair like the Marines -- and where a coup d'etat is a common
occurrence -- many have simply come to accept militarism as part of life.
The political indoctrination by the education system to foster
ultra-nationalism based on the supremacy of the Thai race also does not
help. It makes people believe that Thailand is a racially homogenous
country of ethnic Thais, which is false. Meanwhile, the military is
over-glorified as defender of the Thais. Any violence against "the
other" is then justified.
This is why mainstream Buddhist Thai society cannot empathise with
the suffering of the Malay Muslims in the deep South, even though nearly
5,000 people have been killed.
It is also why the systematic abuse of the highlanders and migrant
workers has failed to stir public outrage against ethnic discrimination,
thus allowing the wrongdoing to continue.
When we cannot feel the pain of the victims of ethnic violence close
to home, how can we feel for people so far away in place and time?
Instead of blaming the Sacred Heart students and teachers, we should
thank them for mirroring our society's deep militarism and lack of
If we do not like what we see, then we should do something to end the systematic brainwashing that fills us with heartlessness.