Funny you should say this - My co-worker and friend has been attempting to explain the conflict to his two sons, 8 and 11, and has described the same problem you mention here. He has NOT used the Nazi's as an example and they have a hartd time getting their minds around the conflict. As I think back to Vietnam, I dont think that I had any grasp of what was going on there either. We still played war and thought weapons were cool, even though I saw body bags and death tolls on TV, I never made the association of suffering and death that goes along with war. For me to make that association, it took witnessing death. Now, of course, my opinion is different.
It seems that the Nazi's are unique in their impression upon us. Most Americans, and I think the world, are willing to ignore, or dont make the associations with, Nazi-like actions unless directly confronted. How long until the Nazi iconography is so deep in our consciousness that they no longer provoke the horror they do now? We often mention other acts of Genocide in the last 200 years, yet except for the Nazi atrocity, there seems to be little emotional response.
> On a completely unrelated note: I saw a feature on the News
> Hour (w/ Jim
> Leher) the other night about teachers trying to explain what
> was going on in
> Kosovo to their students. The students were only able to
> grasp the concept
> when the teachers resorted to a familiar iconography: the Nazis. They
> couldn't get their heads around the subtle details of the
> conflict, but as
> soon the teacher said, "And that's just like what the Nazis did to the
> Jews," every kid in the class suddenly had an opinion on the
> subject. It
> was a little scary actually. But it's the same set of mental
> images the
> press generally has been using to explain the situation. Why?
> Are we only able to understand concepts to the extent that we
> can relate
> them to our preformatted socially-shared media-mediated
> iconography? Can we
> even introduce new ideas into the culture if they can't
> relate them to a
> symbol they've already seen in an article from Cosmo, an MTV
> video, or found
> a plastic toy of it in their Happy Meal(tm)?
> -Prof. Tim