Ignorance: Lacking knowledge or awareness.
This is exactly what happened recently here in Chiang Mai, Thailand when students dressed up in full Nazi costume and regalia from the Third Reich and marched in to their school with pomp and pride, even carrying plastic machine guns.
The foreign parents and staff were absolutely shocked, but the Thai staff “did not understand the controversy.” They kids thought it was simply “fashion.”
Granted, Hitler did co-opt a Hindu/Buddhist symbol, twist it, and turn it into the symbol of his armies, so maybe there is some confusion by the Thai students when they see the swastika being used in popular culture. (I’m really reaching here, aren’t I?) But this is simply unexcuseable, especially for the Thai teachers to not “understand the controversy.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights NGO.
“It is difficult to calculate the hurt such a display inflicted on survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and the families of all victims of Nazism. There can be no justification for such an outrage to emanate from place of learning,” he said.
“The Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust, history’s worst crime, and had they prevailed during World War II, their racist ideology would have eventually targeted all races the Nazis deemed ‘inferior’, including Asians,” Rabbi Cooper added.
“From the visual evidence, it is clear that this Nazi celebration could not have taken place without the knowledge and cooperation of the school administration.”
Ignorance of history in school systems can be global problems. Yet this is a clear and amazing example of what many of us who have lived in Thailand for a little and dealt with the Thai school system (my two boys go to a Thai school) have come to understand;
Thai students are generally ignorant of many KEY events in world history.
Would it be too much to say that they are ignorant of any history outside of Thailand?
I think the horrible history of what the Nazis did to the Jewish people should be a high priority on the history list, don’t you think? 6 million Jews died in the ovens of Nazi Germany, many others who tried to protect them died along with them.
The Jewish people are a people group as old as the Chinese (over 1 billion strong) and Indians (over 1 billion strong).
Yet how many Jews are left in the world today? About 14 million. Anti-semitism has been a destructive force in world history like no other.
This is not the first time that an incident like this has happened in a Thai school, believe it or not. This time it was a Catholic run school too! Yet in 2007, the Thewphaingarm School in Bangkok had to apologize for the exact same thing!
I love Thailand and the Thai people. I think the Thais know that they have a problem with their school system, (see here for one example and here for another) and that it needs a complete overhaul if Thailand is going to compete in the global future.
Maybe they can start with the topic of the Holocaust.
*As a Christian leader living in Thailand, I stand with other ministers clearly condemning this action and call for the school officials and teachers to issue a humble and public apology.