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Evil Is as Evil Does

Obama draws a connection between slavery and the Holocaust

by
Hadara Graubart
July 13, 2009
Obama speaking Saturday at Cape Coast Castle, a former slave-trading fort in Ghana.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama speaking Saturday at Cape Coast Castle, a former slave-trading fort in Ghana.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper scheduled to air today, President Obama brings up a somewhat fraught connection—finding a parallel between black slavery and the Holocaust. While visiting the African nation of Ghana, Obama visited a slavery dungeon, which he found “reminiscent of the trip I took to Buchenwald,” and which similarly reminded him of “the capacity of human beings to commit great evil.” Although that is all the POTUS is reported to have said specifically in reference to the Holocaust, his words about the necessity of teaching the history of slavery to children—“the reason it’s relevant, is whether it’s what’s happening in Darfur or what’s happening in the Congo or what’s happening in too many places around the world, the capacity for cruelty still exists”—echo ideas about Holocaust education and the obligation to translate its lessons into a fight against genocide and injustice being committed in our own time.

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.

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