A Republican congressman posted a video of himself inside Auschwitz educating people about the Holocaust. He eventually had to pull his video after facing backlash from Holocaust remembrance organizations.
The congressman, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), showed viewers the various aspects of the Nazi death camp, from the railroad tracks leading to the camp to the gas chambers and the suffocating room inside, all the while explaining the details of each aspect of the death camp. He also said that Auschwitz is an example of why America needs to protect its borders and have a strong military.
"The world's a smaller place now than it was in World War II," Higgins said in the video. "The United States is more accessible to terror like this, horror like this. It's hard to walk away from the gas chambers and ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment — unwavering commitment — to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world."
The Auschwitz Memorial condemned Higgins' video on Twitter:
The Anti-Defamation League also spoke out against Higgins:
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect went one step further, as they called for Higgins to receive "sensitivity training or get a new job."
Higgins eventually apologized and took down the video, saying:
I filmed the Auschwitz message with great humility. My intent was to offer a reverent homage to those who were murdered in Auschwitz and to remind the world that evil exists, that free nations must remember, and stand strong.
However, my message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect. For that, my own heart feels sorrow. Out of respect to any who may feel that my video posting was wrong or caused pain, I have retracted my video.
The atrocities that happened at Auschwitz were truly despicable, and we must never let history repeat itself in such a way. I have always stood with Israel and all Jewish people, and I always will. We live in a dangerous world, and massive forces of evil do indeed yet exist. We must all stand united against those evils. My Auschwitz video has been removed, and my sincere apology for any unintended pain is extended.
The video can still be seen here:
There was nothing necessarily wrong with what Higgins said in the video; it seems like his intention was simply to inform people about the horrors of Auschwitz. However, filming the video of him stating his message does come across as disrespectful since, as the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account pointed out, visitors are asked to remain silent inside the building out of respect for those who were murdered at the death camp.
That said, many on the Left are jumping the shark in their criticism of Higgins, as Washington Examiner columnist Tom Rogan explains:
They're portraying Higgins as either anti-Semitic, or idiotic, or simply immoral. The Mediaite headline tells the tale, "A GOP Congressman Made a Selfie Video From Inside Auschwitz — It's as Bad as You Think."
Jay Michaelson of The Daily Beast tries to explain why. Higgins' message, says Michaelson, "utterly misconstrues the lessons of the Holocaust." The real lesson according to Michaelson? That "we must be wary of state militarism and must second-guess ourselves when we demonize other groups, especially unpopular ones."
Michaelson and his fellow critics have their opinions, and they are wrong. At the very least, they are trying to do the same thing as Higgins, but swapping out his understanding of the lesson of Auschwitz — and it's a pretty realistic understanding, by the way, based on the need for U.S. military might to end the Third Reich and its horrors — with their own.
Later on in the column, Rogan noted that while Higgins' video "was in poor taste," Higgins "at least tried to attain greater knowledge of the Holocaust."
"That's more than can be said for many of his critics," Rogan wrote.