News

After the arrival of thousands of U.S. veterans, the long-standing Dakota Access Pipeline protests culminated in a small victory on Sunday when President Obama ordered the Army Corps of Engineers halt work on the pipeline. Victories like the one on Sunday and the President’s previous order in September have been overlooked, though. The BBC has called the protests the largest gathering of Native Americans in a century; why then do they feel so invisible? What accounts for the lack of media coverage at Standing Rock?

In October, the Daily Intelligencer interviewed Amy Goodman, host of the independent news site Democracy Now!, speculating how it is possible that “in this oversaturated age for a mass-protest movement to fly under the radar” on “the battle over the building of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline,” and Goodman suggested a larger, systemic problem:

“I dare say the lack of coverage may be because this is a largely Native American resistance and protest. This is an under-covered population generally.”

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Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld

Minnesota State Representative Frank Hornstein is inviting students and community members to a guest lecture with Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld, Professor of History at Fairfield University. Dr. Rosenfeld’s presentation, titled The Use of the Holocaust and Nazi Comparisons in Contemporary American Politics, will discuss the implications of comparisons between the Holocaust and the current political climate. Rep. Hornstein writes:

“For the past year, I have been researching the use of Holocaust and Nazi comparisons in the contemporary American political scene as a fellow with the Sabo Center for Democracy & Citizenship at Augsburg College. The use of these comparisons is quite common; for example, Donald Trump is compared to Adolf Hitler on an almost daily basis. The Iranian regime was routinely compared to Nazi Germany during last summer’s debate on the Iran nuclear agreement, while some in the gun lobby blame the Holocaust on gun control measures. Nazi comparisons are often made in a variety of issue debates ranging from abortion to climate change. The phenomenon has significant implications for how the Holocaust is remembered, and how history is interpreted. It also has profound and complex impacts on American civil discourse.”

The lecture will be Tuesday, November 29th at 2:00pm. Those interested in attending the lecture are invited to attend in person at Augsburg College in the Riverside Room in Christensen Center, or participate online. For more information or to register, log onto the lecture’s Eventbrite page.

In addition to Rep. Hornstein, the event is sponsored by the Sabo Center.

Early this week Frank Navarro, a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum trained teacher who has taught at Mountain View High School in California for 40 years, was put on leave after a parent complained about the parallels he was drawing in his world studies class. He was accused of comparing Trump to Hitler, but in actuality he had only pointed out the connections between Trump’s presidential campaign and Hitler’s rise to power.

On September 1 of this year, Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum wrote in the article With gratitude toward Donald Trump, how as an educator, he was grateful to Trump for making it easier for him to explain to his students, how it was possible for the Nazis and Hitler to come to power. In my own classroom, it is my students who have made the connections, as I certainly did not have to spell it out for them.  We all agree that Trump is not Hitler, but certainly the rhetoric and unabashed racism, antisemitism and xenophobia unleashed by his campaign reminds us of the tactics used by Hitler, the Nazis and his followers.

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Paper presented by Francisco Ferrandiz (CSIC, Madrid), Alejandro Baer (U.Minnesota) and Natan Sznaider (Academic College of Tel Aviv Jaffo) at the 115th meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis.

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Last month marked the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Maspero Massacre. During the first Egyptian revolution, almost 10,000 Copts and allies gathered in Cairo to peacefully protest the demolition of a Coptic Church in Upper Egypt. The army responded to these protests and initial clashes resulted in the death of three soldiers. TV show host, Rasha Magdy, reported that Copts were attacking the army, and that “patriotic people” should take to the streets to protect the military from the “violent crowd of Copts”. Eyewitness accounts claim that alongside mobs, the Egyptian army and security forces used riot gear, batons, live ammunition and armored vehicles to attack the protesters. However, the extent of the involvement of the Egyptian army is still contested. These clashes resulted in nearly 30 deaths, mostly Copts, and almost 300 injuries, marking this incident as the Maspero Massacre. Five years later, only three soldiers were punished with a maximum sentence of three years, and the massacre is not even recognized as one, let alone commemorated.

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When I checked my departmental mailbox this week there was a postcard from the UMN administration that couldn’t be more timely: it showed two students wearing maroon and gold, hugging — one blonde and Caucasian and the other black and Somali — and a very simple phrase: “You are here. We like that.”

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One might wonder why such an obvious message would be at all necessary at a major American public University. The political reality that has unfolded in this country over the last months — reaching its culmination on Tuesday — has sadly shown that this reminder is more necessary than ever. Basic democratic norms, pluralism and willingness to coexist peacefully with people of different religions, languages and origins, has proven not to be a given for millions of Americans.

This chilling eye-opener comes on a fateful date. The night of November 9th marks the 78th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s state-sponsored riots known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), a turning point in Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy. Before I read about Kristallnacht in books I had heard about that infamous night from my father, who remembers to this day how the police came to his home in Pirmasens, a small town in the Palatinate region, and arrested his father. By fortune, and unlike so many other Jewish families, they were able to leave Germany in time.

The Kristallnacht commemoration teaches that democratic institutions and values are not automatically sustained and that a modern society can become numbed to the fate of its minorities. This day reminds us what occurs when a community based on mutual acceptance has been destroyed. This day urges us to be mindful that the path that leads from verbal incitement to discriminatory policy and murderous action can be very short.

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies November/December newsletter is devoted to this historical event and features a number of educational resources (bibliographies, testimonies, artwork, newspaper articles). In this newsletter we ask our readers to teach the lessons of the past to wind back the divisive rhetoric that has been unleashed.

 Alejandro Baer is the Stephen C. Feinstein Chair and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

October 14, 2016

To: President Barack Obama;

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon;

Prince Zeid, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity to the UN Secretary General, respectively.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR); U.S. Senator McGovern (D-MA); and, U.S. House of Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)

From: Scholars of Genocide Studies from Across the Globe, Human Rights Activists, Anti-genocide Activists, and People of the Cloth

Re., Actions That Must Be Taken Immediately in Regard to the Chemical Attacks on Darfur

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Rami Malek recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series for his role in Mr. Robot, designating him as the first “non-white” actor to win this award in 18 years. Malek was born in the US to Coptic Christian-Egyptian parents, meaning that his win is widely celebrated amongst Arab, Egyptian, Coptic, and American communities. This win highlights the fluidity and complexity of identity, and particularly sheds light on debates about Copts as Egyptians, Copts as Arabs, and Middle Easterners and North Africans as non-white.

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Dr. Barbara Weissberger is an emerita professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. Next month, she will be presenting her work at the Blood Libel Then & Now: The Enduring Impact of an Imaginary Event conference in New York City.  

The Edict of Expulsion of all unconverted Jews that Queen Isabel and King Fernando issued in April of 1492 ended more than a millennium of co-existence between Christians and Jews in the Spanish kingdoms. Between 1391 and 1413 that often fragile co-existence began to unravel when real and threatened violence against Jews caused a massive wave of conversion to Christianity, creating a diverse group known as conversos. Prior to the conversions, blood libel accusations against Jews in Spain, unlike in the rest of Europe, had been exceedingly rare.

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On August 20th, the Star Tribune published a story highlighting the incredible disparity between Native Americans and the rest of Minnesota in foster care placement. According to Stahl and Webster’s article, American Indian youth are ten times more likely to end up in foster care in comparison to the rest of the state. On average, two indigenous youth are sent to foster homes in Minnesota every day, the highest rate in the nation.

The sheer number of Native American children being sent to foster care in the United States is creating a significant problem. In 1978 Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). At the time, it was an attempt to keep Native American youth in tribal communities by placing them with Native foster families whenever possible. Now nearly thirty years later, Minnesota has a shortage of Native American foster homes to house the increasing number of children being taken from their home.

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