Days before this week’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, I spoke with a member of the Muslim Uighur community. Over a million of his people—a Turkic ethnic group undergoing a genocidal persecution in China—are currently detained in concentration camps by the Chinese government.
He told me about his imprisoned cousin, who was murdered just weeks ago. Chinese officers burned the remains, a standard practice with victims of the camps.
My friend lamented that the family would never be able to give his cousin a proper burial. I didn’t know what to say.
I’ve often felt there was something missing in the way many treat Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this year I felt it more than ever. With the powerless Uighurs of China fresh in my mind, I watched in shame as the powerful made clumsy use of the memory of another powerless community: The Jews of Hitler’s Germany.
Government officials had their teams prepare 250-word statements about the foggy, half-forgotten tragedy. Pundits and celebrities lifted up the dead like dark marionettes in a show designed to cast their petty enemies in a bad light. And young people, some two-thirds of whom no longer know what Auschwitz is, tweeted lazy afterthoughts, using Twitter’s built-in, auto-complete hashtag for the occasion: #NeverAgain.
And Church officials offered their own empty gestures. Pope Francis spoke of the “black pages of history,” taking a stand against one of history’s greatest genocides from the safe distance of many decades.
Just months earlier, the pope formed a partnership with the Chinese government, crippling the country’s persecuted Church, and embracing the regime that even now is hurrying to complete its own Final Solution against the Uighurs.
Vatican official Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, one of Pope Francis’s closest lieutenants, attempted to defend his friend’s dumbfounding decision, but only managed to highlight its ugliness: He praised Communist China for its “positive national conscience,” and called the murderous regime the “best” at “implementing the social doctrine of the Church.”
These leaders of the Church are a far cry from those who lived at the time of the Holocaust. Despite the claims made against Pope Pius XII in the popular book “Hitler’s Pope,” the Vatican made considerable efforts to rescue Jews from their persecutors.
If the book “Xi Jinping’s Pope” is ever written about Pope Francis and the Uighur genocide, it will never be debunked.
The Chinese government is reportedly tightening its grip on the inhabitants of Xinjiang, a mostly-Uighur region of China, forcing them to sign a “confidentiality agreement” that threatens them with imprisonment and worse if they reveal anything about the camps (officials euphemistically call them “training centers”) to international inspectors.
From Breitbart, quoting Epoch Times:
The agreement, written in the Uyghur Arabic alphabet, says that prisoners must not “reveal the study, life, number of people, and internal workings of the training centers,” or they will be held accountable “according to the relevant laws and regulations of our country.”
Evidence of the mass-detention facilities, such as barbed wire fencing, is being removed and a source in Xinjiang confirmed with the Chinese-language Epoch Times in September 2018 that local police officers have signed confidentiality agreements to not reveal that they are transporting Uyghurs elsewhere. According to the source, about 1,500 Uyghurs in the area where he resides were being sent to other locations.
More from Breitbart:
Arguing that the camps are vocational and educational centers aimed at combating terrorism and religious extremism, China has repeatedly denied the detainees are subjected to communist indoctrination and are facing systemic torture, disappearances, executions, arbitrary detentions, as well as suppression of cultural and religious life, among other crimes, at the facilities.
China is reportedly expanding its crackdown on Muslims to other areas in the country that house Islam adherents. A Reuters investigation found the there are up to 1,200 so-called re-education centers in the predominantly Muslim Uighur- Xinjiang province alone.
We remember the Holocaust, but we remember it with the idle, distracted half-interest of drowsy Netflix subscribers. We view the terror of Hitler’s Final Solution the way we might view a horror film, a mildly unsettling form of entertainment that we watch with friends just once a year for Halloween.
The Holocaust isn’t a tale about monsters and what they did to their victims. It’s a tale about our own fallen nature, and the depths we are capable of plunging to if we shrug and let the world go unexamined. It’s a true story, and it’s a story about the sort of things that happen while we watch Netflix and tweet hashtags.
As a Catholic, I want to condemn the world for its apathy. But my own Church is no better. As much as we might all claim to remember the Holocaust, we’ve made a point of forgetting the one thing we should remember most about it.
I wrote the book “The Race to Save our Century” because I wanted to tell the world, and the Church, that we’re living in history-defining times. We’re at the helm of human history, deciding its fates. And indecision is a decision in itself. The kind of decision that lets genocide after genocide take place, only to be given “remembrances” by the heartless and the spiritless.
Perhaps International Holocaust Remembrance Day should be renamed. Call it “Forgetfulness Day.” And in a just world, the hashtag #NeverAgain would be replaced with a more honest one: #AgainAndAgain.