U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle and three other members of Congress are trying to encourage nationwide Holocaust education.
This past Saturday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with only eight states requiring public schools to develop curricula that include education on the inhumanities of the Holocaust.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-13th dist.) and three other members of Congress are trying to change that.
Boyle, fellow Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Deutch last April introduced House Resolution 276, which expresses congressional support for states that require Holocaust awareness in public schools and hope that every state will adopt similar legislation.
“It’s probably needed more now than at any time since the 2nd World War,” said Boyle.
During Boyle’s tenure in the state House, he was on the forefront of similar legislation that garnered bipartisan support and was later signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.
When Boyle was elected to Congress, he believed that this should be a nationwide effort.
“It was kind of a natural extension for me to be part of an effort to encourage other states to have this as well.”
Boyle, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, believes events in the United States and abroad have led to a rise in support of Nazism. Citing different political movements in Europe as a concern, he also recalls the shock of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
“When Charlottesville happened, that was eye opening to me,” said Boyle. “I never imagined that I’d see thousands of people marching and declaring themselves neo-Nazis and marching proudly on the streets of a city in America.”
At the time of the Charlottesville riots, Boyle and other members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs were in Norway. He thought back to how disturbed he was seeing the riots grabbing international headlines and wondering how this could have taken place in the United States.
Although the legislation was proposed over 10 months ago, Boyle is optimistic that it will pass and become an effective way to combat Nazism.
“Unfortunately, we are in a very negative climate right now and I think the best way to combat that is by teaching children the consequences of what can happen when you dehumanize any group of people,” said Boyle. “Anytime you’re going to get something meaningful passed, it takes a while. I’m confident we will get there, though.”
The resolution has been endorsed by, among others, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, B’nai B’rith International, the Holocaust Awareness Institute, the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Southern Poverty Law Center and the World Jewish Restitution Organization.
“We have to learn from the past so we can truly say and mean ‘Never Again,’ ” Boyle said. ••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com