Monday, July 28, 2014

Smile, Though Your Heart Is Aching

If you're like me (and if you're not why are you reading this blog), you might think that an "Auschwitz Selfie" is an obscure act of sexual perversion. That would be the funny bit, where we weren't asking for a cultural judgement on Breanna Mitchell, who posted a picture of herself at the infamous Nazi death camp. Smiling. The outrage that has been stirred because of this one photograph is notable, since the story behind it was never fully known until long after the offending picture was cast upon the murky waters of Al Gore's Internet. From what I was able to gather, it seems that Breanna's expression was the biggest issue. Happy Face in Death Camp is not an equation that most of us are able to make sense of in our daily flip through our news clips.
The fact that she was making this trip to Europe a year after her father died, the man with whom she had studied the history of World War II, was not enough for most to excuse the big grin in conjunction with The Big Lie. She was honoring her late father, but was she respecting the millions who died in the Holocaust? If only she hadn't been smiling, would that have made a difference?
If I were asked (and in case you are new to this blog and you don't get the rhythm, no one really does), I would say that the problem was that she posted the picture at all. We are a generation, with another one coming fast behind us, that takes great pride in our ability to insinuate ourselves into history. We can photoshop, bomb, instagram and publish our faces happy or sad onto the World Wide Webs. The words you are reading now are being hung out there to compete with all those other voices that claim to know just what is right or wrong with any particular question. Israel? Health care? Public education? I've got an answer for them all. I have access to a keyboard and I'm not afraid to use it.
Of course, maybe I should be. I never know exactly when I will step on the metaphorical toes of someone who happens to stumble on this page while searching for the truth about Ms. Mitchell or the hidden meaning behind "Auschwitz Selfie." I don't know what the truth is, outside of these mild constraints. As it turns out, the truth is not as objective as we were lead to believe. I do believe, however, that I will keep my vacation snapshots on the downlow. Smiling or not.

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