Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany commissioned a polling firm to conduct a “comprehensive national study of Holocaust knowledge and awareness in the United States.” The results are getting quite a bit of media attention.
The survey finds a relatively widespread lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, especially among young people. 22% of millennials say they have never heard of the Holocaust, or aren’t sure whether they have heard of it. That is rather shocking, but the ignorance isn’t confined to millennials: 11% of all respondents gave the same answer.
49% of millennials couldn’t identify any concentration camps or ghettos. That seems appalling, but 45% of all respondents couldn’t name any, either. Two-thirds of millennials can’t say what Auschwitz was. I think at least part of what is happening here is that American high schools are so obsessed with social justice, race, etc., that they don’t teach much about actual facts. Like history.
Most survey respondents say that there is anti-Semitism in the U.S., which of course is true. But many Americans vastly over-rate, in my judgment, the number of neo-Nazis. 34% of respondents say there are “many neo-Nazis in the U.S.,” while 17% say there are “a great deal of Neo-Nazis in the US.” These are people, I suspect, who have been systematically misled by the education system and the news media. Some of our high schools seem to devote much of their efforts to combatting neo-Nazis, notwithstanding that in all likelihood, no one associated with the school has ever seen one.
As usual when such questions are asked in polls, the lack of support for free speech rights is discouraging. Only 15% of respondents agree that “People should be allowed to use Nazi slogans or symbols.” I wonder what the response would be if people were asked whether people should be allowed to use Communist (or socialist) slogans or symbols.
It is rare to read poll results that make one feel better about the American public. This survey is no exception.