The High School in which I was a teacher for 31 years always offered a course in the study of The Holocaust. The town in which the high school was located had a long and rich history that included many Jewish residents and visitors and so this particular course touched upon a subject that was both near and dear to the hearts of those who lived and worked and taught within the town.
But of course the importance of teaching such a course was to instruct all of the students and residents of the town that such a horrible atrocity could never be forgotten and that this monstrous injustice could occur somewhere else and at some other time to any group of people and anywhere within our world where people did not remain vigilant or were willing to forget or disbelieve that humans could ever treat other humans with such cold cruelty.
And of course the corner stone of the course, if you will, was always the phrase: “Never forget”. We must never forget what happened in the Germany of WWII lest an atrocity of similar horror happen again.
And so over the years the course was taught, and as fate would have it, over the years our classes, students and public school community gradually changed complexion until one day I was listening in when a young African American student, looking a bit bored with the lecture, raised his hand and said, “Who cares about this. What about slavery?” as many of the other students of color began to mutter their agreement.
And I will never forget what the teacher’s response was…and this is going to sound like I’m making it up although I swear to you, on my honor, that I am not…
The teacher’s response was: “Son, that was a long time ago. You’re going to have to forget about that and move on with your life or you’ll end up going nowhere.”
And that is why The Washington Redskins need to change their name! And Daniel Snyder, the Washington team’s owner, should know better…especially than to say to USA Today and the world…”We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
Because Never is a word you use…when you forget.