This American Life Podcast – Episode 644 Reflection

On the days I do not take the train to work for one reason or the other I listen to podcasts.  Most of the time it’s My Favorite Murder with Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, which as I have mentioned in other posts, fuels my anxiety!  So when I need a little break from that, I either listen to SERIAL (currently on and off with Season 3,), Levar Burton Reads, or This American Life.

I started listening to This American Life a few years ago during the time I started listening to the first season of SERIAL with the story of Adnan Syed (which if you haven’t listened to it, you should!).  Anyway, the different stories on This American Life podcast that I have heard really get you thinking. The many stories and experiences that are shared on this podcast can range from things like a woman going out into the streets to confront men and their cat-calling, people talking about the crazy relationships they’ve been in, and how libraries can actually be a form of “The Room of Requirement” (if you don’t know that reference we can’t be friends! LOL – and also that episode [#664] made me cry at the end).  I haven’t listened to all the episodes, there are way too many! But the one I was listening to this morning was so good!

It’s call Random Acts of History, episode 644, which includes a story of some high school kids from Castlemont High in Oakland, CA and their experience learning about the Holocaust in the early 90’s – The Miseducation of Castlemont High. There was an incident where a group of students from this school got kicked out of a movie theater that ended up being in the media for quite a while, and ended up with Steven Spielberg visiting the high school! Give it a listen.

Overall, the full episode consists of people’s experiences and thoughts when they learn something about history that they never knew, or find shocking in some way or other.  I’m sure everyone has had a moment like this in their lives. I think that is why I’m so obsessed with historical fiction and non-fiction about the WWII era, because when I first learned about the holocaust in high school, and watched documentaries and what not, I was shocked that a person, a leader, could be so damn evil!  And I would question why God let the suffering of so many innocent people happen (I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, google it). As a teenager I really had no choice but to go to church or I would get the guilt trip from my mom later. And I remember bringing up this topic in my youth group class (me, who was always the super quiet girl, and still am) and asked the question of why did God let this happen?  I can’t remember exactly what the youth pastor told me, or what other people in church told me, but it had to do with “God’s plans”, and that these people were being punished because in the Bible, the Jews crucified Jesus and their people would suffer for many generations. This is the answer I had to be content with and accept. As an adult though, I still don’t really accept it.

Listening to this episode, I learned that there is a theory in which Jewish people owned slaves, and were part of slave trade. Which I thought to myself, “WTF, I didn’t know that!”.  Not that that in any way merits the way they were treated during the holocaust, but for sure it’s an interesting theory I was unaware of, and I say “theory” becase apparently this is a very controversial topic in the Jewish community.  Every time I read or watch something pertaining to the holocaust, Jewish history, and the Nazis, whether it is historical fiction or an actual documentary, I never once came upon the theory that at some point in history, Jews were involved in the enslavement of people.  Again, this is no way merits how they were treated, there were millions of innocent men, women, and children that lost their lives because of the asshole who was Hitler (aka Old School Voldemort). I know that human beings are not perfect. I am definitely not perfect in any way.  If you want to get biblical about it, we are all sinners, but we do not deserve to be treated inhumanely because we are different. Unless of course you’re a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Hitler (blog post on Ted coming soon!).

I quickly did a Google search and found an interesting article about the Jewish community and slave trade: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jews-and-the-african-slave-trade/

Definitely check it out if you have a Holocaust, WWII, Jewish history obsession like me.  The article mentions some other references too, which I’ll definitely be looking up. There is also a list of books on this same website of recommended Holocaust books:  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/10-holocaust-books-you-should-read/

I love that as an adult I have the liberty to learn about what I want and have an endless library at my fingertips.

Have you ever had a “WTF” moment when learning something you never knew about history? Or something you thought you knew and understood, and come to find out there is a whole different version of things?  Please comment and share!

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