Letter to the editor: CANDLES expresses concerns about Senate Bill 167

Dear Editor:

We write as the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center to express great concern about Senate Bill 167 as filed in the Indiana legislature in the 2022 session. We are alarmed and shocked at the language in the legislation, which would prohibit the teaching that Nazi ideology and the Nazi party (and other forms of political hate groups) are wrong, bad, or negative, and require that this subject matter be taught in an “impartial” manner.

We believe this is similar to an effort in Texas, which sought to require that teachers provide in their teaching, “the other side” of the Holocaust. There is no other side. Nazi ideology, the Nazi party, and hateful propaganda led to the Holocaust, with the murder of more than six million Jewish people, and millions of others in concentration camps, and by the Einsatzgruppen death squads which swept across Eastern Europe.

These are truths. These are facts. They must be taught as they happened.

We welcome and will continue to seek out, opportunities to educate legislators, as well as other elected officials, and members of the public, to educate, and to ensure that this education is protected. We teach not only the past, but we teach to prevent crimes against humanity in our modern time. Education and teaching are at the core of our mission. We as a state cannot afford to lower our guard. We must be vigilant and proactive.

More than anyone, as Holocaust museums, synagogues, and places of worship, we all come face to face with hate groups. Throughout the years, we have received threats to our safety and security. Founder and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor rebuilt the museum when it was destroyed by an anti-Semitic terrorist firebombing. As recently as the last few weeks, we have been the target of anti-Semitic hate fliers, as were a Jewish business and a synagogue in Terre Haute.

We are not alone. And we are used to it.

Moreover, movements are increasing in Indiana and across the country. Synagogues, museums, Muslim, and Sikh places of worship, and other minority places of worship, homes, and businesses, are also targets on a regular basis.

None of this can and should be taught in a neutral way. We implore our friends in the legislature, to listen to us. Reject Senate Bill 167. Join us in bringing people together, as Eva Kor, our founder, inspired all of us to do, instead of adopting legislation that would compel teaching of the horrors of the Holocaust in an “impartial” way. Join us to build bridges, instead of promoting legislation that will surely divide, and stifle, the teaching the truths of the Holocaust.

Representing CANDLES Board of Directors and Staff,

Troy Fears

Executive Director of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center