According to Antonio Guterres, white supremacists are organizing and recruiting across borders, “displaying the symbols and tropes of the Nazis and their murderous ambitions.”
The United Nations Secretary-General urged coordinated global action to build an alliance against the growth and spread of neo-Nazism and white supremacy, and the resurgence of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and hate speech triggered in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Antonio Guterres made the appeal Monday at the annual Park East Synagogue and the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Service on Wednesday marking the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, held virtually this year because of of COVID-19.
He also called for international action “to combat propaganda and disinformation,” and called for increased education on Nazi actions during World War II, pointing out that nearly two-thirds of young people in the United States do not know not that six million Jews were killed. during the Holocaust.
The pandemic “has exacerbated long-standing injustices and divisions,” he warned.
“Propaganda linking Jews to the pandemic, for example, accusing them of creating the virus as part of an attempt at world domination, would be ridiculous if it were not so dangerous,” he said. declared. “This is just the latest manifestation of an anti-Semitic trope that dates back to at least the 14th century, when Jews were accused of spreading the bubonic plague.”
I had the honor to join with Holocaust survivors in marking the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
The denial, the distortion and the minimization of the Holocaust are resurfacing.
We can never let our guard down. We must continue to stand up against lies, bigotry and hate. pic.twitter.com/uQIviH5vdT
– António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 26, 2021
The secretary-general said it was sad but not surprising that the pandemic had sparked yet another eruption of Holocaust denial, distortion and minimization of history.
“In Europe, the United States and elsewhere, white supremacists are organizing and recruiting across borders, displaying the symbols and tropes of the Nazis and their murderous ambitions,” he said. “Tragically, after decades in the shadows, the neo-Nazis and their ideas are now gaining ground.”
Guterres said U.S. officials have warned that neo-Nazis are on the rise across the country and around the world. In some unnamed countries, he said, neo-Nazis have infiltrated police and state security services, and their ideas can be heard in debates from major political parties.
“The continued rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazi ideology must be seen against the backdrop of a global attack on truth that has reduced the role of science and factual analysis in public life,” did he declare.
Guterres said the fragmentation of traditional media and the growth of social media contribute to the lack of shared facts.
“We need coordinated global action, on the scale of the threat we face, to build an alliance against the growth and spread of neo-Nazism and white supremacy, and to combat propaganda and disinformation, ”he said.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor, warned that “if we do not learn the tragic lessons of history, they are doomed to repeat.”
“This guiding principle – memory and not amnesia – is a moral imperative to suppress the rise in hatred, which is greater today than at any time since the end of World War II,” did he declare.
Schneier said the Nazi swastikas were again damaging synagogues and cemeteries in France, Germany and more recently in Montreal, and among those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were people wearing shirts saying “Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWE” – short for “Six Million Wasn ‘t Enough”.
“Children are not born with hatred; they are taught to hate, ”the 90-year-old rabbi said. “Holocaust education in schools is a must.”