To paraphrase someone else who once asked: exactly where is that office within which I can resign from the human race?

No, this search has nothing directly to do with the polluted political landscape here in the land of alternative facts, fake news, and the swamp of sewage that passes for leadership in our national government, a stench that penetrates my senses and sends me seeking fresh air, somewhere, anywhere, to take some deep breaths, and possibly cleanse the mind/body palate. A little? Where’s that flowery meadow? Direct me to that placid lake, where I connect with, as the mojo goes, “meditation and water are forever wedded”. However, the stink is not only a domestic by-product of political dysfunction. It is also imported from around the world. And this is nothing new. Actually, it seems to be writ large as the history of the world a la  James Joyce’s Ulysseshistory is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. 

It’s not that I want to bury my head in the sand, nor simply throw up my hands and surrender to my personal angst and antipathy toward my fellow humankind. No, I cannot “resign” from the human race but I am having a difficult time resigning myself to accepting the ever-more evident modern, daily dose of news that documents the descent of decency.

What confronted me today, and reminded me that it can be a challenge to avoid confronting more grim reality? Well, I dared to visit the SPORTS PAGE of a national publication. Just a glance at some developments amongst the competitive goings-on, a recap of a World Series game, or the scores of the local teams, be it now basketball, football, hockey or even soccer. Soccer? Isn’t that the sport that “sports” the infamous soccer “hooligans”? I do believe so. However, a sidebar story grabbed my glazzies via its headline,  Italian soccer to feature Anne Frank’s Diary. What in the wide, wide world of…

I read the short piece that revealed that some fans of the futbal team from Lazio, Italy decided it was suitable to appropriate the image of Anne Frank, the incredibly impressive young girl whose diary, penned while hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands from 1942 to 1944, is a revered posthumously published work known throughout the world. To what end did the Lazio fans use Frank’s image, ironically one in which she has a sweet smile on her face? It certainly wasn’t an homage to this tragic historical figure. It was used to express anti-Semitic hatred, the shirts and stickers of Frank’s smiling face being edited to show her wearing the jersey of Lazio”s soccer rival Roma. This loathsome display of mindless hate by a pact of Lazio fans was littered all about Stadio Olimpico during a recent match.

In response to this repulsive desecration of one of the millions of Jews who perished during the Holocaust, Lazio President Claudio Lotito said it plans to intensify efforts to combat racism and anti-Semitism within its fan base, including organizing an annual trip to Auschwitz concentration camp with hundreds of young fans. Good for him. Also, the Italian soccer federation staged readings from passages of Anne Frank’s diary before soccer matches in Italy this past week.

How did that go? Did I use the term humankind earlier? Some fans in Lazio and Bologna sang fascists songs and made fascist salutes during the readings. Sickening.

As if Anne Frank didn’t meet a cruel enough fate, in a life that didn’t quite make it to her 16th birthday, she again is victimized–as too with all of the victims of one of the darkest moments in recorded human history. Her diary, written under unimaginable circumstances wherein she and her family hid in hope that somehow, some way, they would evade capture–and almost certain death. They were betrayed, and sent to their deaths in one of the camps.

No, there is no such office to “resign” from being a member of the human race, and history’s nightmares need be remembered in hopes of not repeating itself. We humans clearly, are not perfect. But the imperfections of some go exponentially beyond any hint of a default setting of being decent human beings.

Peace, love and understanding, anyone? I’m of that generation. And while I’d like to think I am a decent human being, it becomes more and more enervating to process these atrocities based on racial, ethnic or religious differences.

It would do everyone well to embrace John Donne’s perspective on life: Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to seek for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.






About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to Mal-appropriation

  1. Outrage doesn’t even begin to describe how this story makes me feel. And yet, as you point out, this is not a story, it is illustrative of our real world and its lack of moral compass. Kudos to you for finding this, undertaking the difficult task of dissecting it, and bringing it to light. Dystopia indeed!


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