Ron Hager’s Warped View of the Holocaust
Ron Hager’s Warped View of the Holocaust
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been garnering the wrong type of attention recently, because a professor teaching “21st Century Wellness” – a class that’s apparently a requirement for graduation from the hallowed halls of UNC – is using a textbook which claims that the Jews during the Holocaust “did not tap into the strength that comes from their intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected.” Ron Hager’s book, which he cowrote, and which he’s apparently forcing students to purchase for his class, thereby putting money in his own pocket, is by several accounts oversimplified, superficial garbage, as is his alleged “understanding” of the underlying causes of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust apparently happened because the Jews “”did not tap into the strength that comes from their intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected.” Read that to mean that the Jews simply made the wrong choices regarding their health and wellness, and had they had a bit more self esteem…
I can’t even write this with a straight face!
And I’m not the only one who thinks this is utter dreck.
Ryan Holmes, who took a Lifetime Fitness weight training course last fall, was one of a number of students who criticized the book.
“Some of the stuff they said seemed almost like pseudoscience, and it kind of blurred the lines between what I recognized to be real factual information and things that may or may not be true. It put a lot of emphasis on the connection between mental and physical health, more than normal,” he said. “I thought that it was an oversimplification that didn’t account for situational factors.”
Smart kid, that Ryan Holmes.
Another student, Skye Golann, criticized the text as having put “extreme emphasis on personal responsibility for health, without enough exploration of societal factors for bad health, such as poverty and lack of access to medicine.”
There seems to be a common thread in students’ criticism of the textbook – the fact that Hager failed to put choices and personal responsibility into context when discussing wellness.
Nowhere is that oversimplification more obvious than in Hager’s superficial understanding – if you can even call it that – of the history of the Holocaust and the factors that led to the systematic murder of Jews, as well as so many others. This dude has the intellectual depth of a teaspoon, and I’m being generous.
Now, Hager is partially correct when he says that the Jews didn’t tap into their inner strength that comes from their intrinsic worth. What Hager is missing, though, are the reasons for this alleged “failure” – the fact that years of Nazi propaganda painting Jews as ugly, as worthless, as exploiting the Germans, and as vermin on this very earth, as well as systematic abuse, theft of their property, and the infringement on their fundamental civil rights served to erode the Jews’ collective self esteem, to denigrate their culture, and to destroy that inner strength that they needed so badly to resist.
Nazi propaganda about the Jews permeated every facet of mass media, art, music, theater, film, books, radio, school books, and the press.
Of course, the very basic Jewish cultural identity was impacted by the constant barrage of Nazi filth!
Wouldn’t yours be?
Much like victims of domestic abuse, the Jews – who are some of society’s most law-abiding citizens by their very nature – exhibited characteristics of abuse victims.
There was embarrassment, there was shame, there was fear, the Jews’ very nature as law-abiding citizens precluded them from disobeying the onerous laws the Nazis passed to ensure they were relegated to the gutters of society and disarmed to ensure that they could not fight back. A sense of loyalty precluded many of them from leaving, and their collective self esteem was shredded by years of Nazi abuse.
…While no law prohibited a Jew from owning guns, the report recited the Nazi mantra: “Jews in possession of weapons are a danger to the German people.”…
This scenario took place all over Germany — firearms were confiscated from all Jews registered as gun owners. As this was occurring, a wholly irrelevant event provided just the excuse needed to launch a violent attack on the Jewish community: A Polish teenager who was Jewish shot a German diplomat in Paris. The stage was set to instigate Kristallnacht, a carefully orchestrated Nazi onslaught against the entire Jewish community in Germany that horrified the world and even the German public.
Under the pretense of searching for weapons, Jewish homes were vandalized, businesses ransacked and synagogues burned. Jews were terrorized, beaten and killed. Orders were sent to shoot anyone who resisted.
This is what Hager doesn’t acknowledge as he basks in his American privilege, never having dealt with such brutality on a large scale. This is what Hager fails to understand when he implies that the Jews were somehow responsible for what happened to him. This is Hager’s failing, and he is trying to pass this superficial, arrogant, privileged ignorance on to his students.
What Hager doesn’t recognize is that when the identity of an entire population is weakened, it becomes easier to abuse and further degrade them.
Films in particular played an important role in disseminating racial antisemitism, the superiority of German military power, and the intrinsic evil of the enemies as defined by Nazi ideology. Nazi films portrayed Jews as “subhuman” creatures infiltrating Aryan society. For example, The Eternal Jew (1940), directed by Fritz Hippler, portrayed Jews as wandering cultural parasites, consumed by sex and money. Some films, such as The Triumph of the Will (1935) by Leni Riefenstahl, glorified Hitler and the National Socialist movement. Two other Riefenstahl works, Festival of the Nations and Festival of Beauty (1938), depicted the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and promoted national pride in the successes of the Nazi regime at the Olympics.
If Hager thinks this systematic abuse of an entire population doesn’t impact the people’s national identity and their ability to tap into that inner strength he so loves to promote, he shouldn’t be teaching ANY class, especially not anything having to do with wellness!
I haven’t taken his class, and I haven’t read his book, but if the goal of UNC-Chapel Hill is to ensure that the university releases well-adjusted, mature, individuals, able to overcome challenges and make choices to live healthy lives, this book and this class sound like abject failures.