Monday, April 15, 2013

Would Anne Frank Have Objected?

Anne Frank - Source: The Forward
I hate to defend a pop icon whose music I can’t stand, but justice demands that I do so.

Justin Bieber has apparently has done something that has drawn a lot of criticism. While visiting the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam he wrote the following in the guest book:  

Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber’.

As a child of the Holocaust whose parents were survivors, I stand second to no one when it comes to respecting the enormity of the tragedy and sensitivities of survivors. I am extremely sensitive to the littlest slight.  I have been a long time student of that period of history and my antennae are always up about people who minimize what happened or try to revise history.  But the criticism of Beiber is truly going too far.

While it is true that there should never be any trivialization of any aspect of the Holocaust, I do not consider what Beiber said to have had any demeaning intent or content. The very fact that he visited the that museum shows that he actually cares about it… and is sensitive to what happened back then. Anne Frank was captured by the Nazis and shipped off to a concentration camp where she died. Her diary was the first published glimpse of the horrors of that period. 

There are some issues that should not be put in any context other than one of horror. Any Holocaust story falls into that category. So what Beiber wrote may have been inappropriate. And I emphasize the word 'may'.  However it was made in complete innocence and was probably just meant as an expression of how normal she would have been as a teenager in today’s society. In no way do I see what he said as undermining the horror she went through.

Those who criticize him may be well intended. But they are wrong. Beiber may be a bit eccentric, self centered, and at age 19 a bit naïve, but he is not a bad person. Quite the contrary. My impression is that although a mega-star and multi-millionaire, he is basically a good kid. The media attention to this is way over-board. He ought to be left alone. He did nothing wrong.

I actually feel bad that he has to go through this kind of undeserved negative media attention. But in every cloud, there is a silver lining.  The reaction to what he said in social media was swift and highly critical. Even though I disagree with it, it says a lot about the American people (or at least his fans) that they feel the Holocaust is sacred and ought not be treated trivially.