Open Letter to Sean Spicer Regarding his Comments made about Hitler and the Holocaust

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Dear Mr. Spicer,

I am the son of Holocaust survivors and I am writing to you in regard to the comments you made, of all days, on Passover.   Maybe I am not as forgiving as some, but to be blunt, your apology is not accepted. At least not by me.  And here’s why.

You started off by saying the following:

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

In an attempt to fix your error you went on to say:

I think when you come to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. . . . He brought them into, um, the Holocaust center  —  I understand that. But I’m saying in the way Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns, it was brought  —  the use of it  —  and I appreciate the clarification.

Mr. Spicer, I do not believe you to be an anti-Semite, nor do I believe you made your comments out of any desire to hurt or offend any member of the Jewish community.  That being said, sometimes the words are so despicable, an adjective you yourself used, and the actions are so disgraceful, that neither an apology nor lack of malicious intent is enough to move on.  In addition, the nature of an apology tells a lot about how a person feels.  So when the apology seems more motivated by how bad you look and how much you let your boss down than it does the pain and anger you caused significant parts of an entire community, then apologizing is just not enough to make it all better.

The problem I have with this Mr. Spicer, is that your words revealed a deeper and more dangerous perception of the Jewish people and the horrors of what took place in the Holocaust.  To your credit, I do believe your apology tour makes clear you did not want to hurt anyone, but with your clear lack of understanding of where you went wrong you have a lot of work to do before I and many people who think as I do are willing to put this incident behind us.  Ironically I suspect my greatest opposition to the views I am stating here will come from my fellow Jews who are in your camp and feel I am some sort of traitor to my people for wanting Hillary Clinton as president over Donald Trump. They will come back to me with responses like, “Everyone is allowed to makes a mistake” or “Hillary would have done a lot worse for the Jewish people”.  To which I respond as follows. The seriousness of the mistake dictates how easily or soon it is forgiven, and this is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  This is about Sean Spicer.

You see Mr. Spicer, you revealed a subconscious and critical perception, one likely ingrained in you for a long time, and that is the perception that Jews in Germany were not really Germans.  This perception is in line with how the Nazis perceived their Jewish population and the Jewish population throughout Europe.  They referred to them as sub-human. So from the perspective of the Nazis, Hitler didn’t use gas on his people because Jews were not really people.  I know you did not mean to infer this, but if you are to apologize, you might want to understand the deep-rooted problem in your comments.

I also felt part of your apology to be somewhat patronizing inasmuch as it came across as though you were sorry you even made a reference to Hitler, as though mentioning his name is enough to offend us Jews.  Jews don’t necessarily mind the reference being done appropriately, but when the President’s detractors compare him to Hitler I find myself protesting that as well, because as much as I am not a fan of your boss, calling him another Hitler is inappropriate on many levels.  To refer to Bashar al-Assad as being like Hitler in regard to his penchant for murder is appropriate enough that had your comments not gone further than that, I doubt many people would have protested, despite some glaring holes in the comparison.  One such hole being that Assad has never exhibited an ambition towards global domination, and the other being that his brutality is based more on controlling with an iron tyrannical fist than it is on wiping out an entire segment of the population. But inasmuch as Assad has shown himself to be an evil murderer , he is similar to Hitler.

I guess what bothers me most Mr. Spicer, is that although I believe you when you say you are sorry, I am not convinced you really understand enough for your apology to really count.  Until you know that places like Auschwitz and Dachau were Concentration Camps or Death Camps, not Holocaust Centers, and until you understand the problem with your words is not just the use of Hitler’s name but the lack of understanding of what it does to a people to have 6 million members of their kind murdered, I will see your apology more as an ‘oops I messed up’ than a deep feeling of regret.  When this is more about an understanding for the sadness of the Jewish people and less about a feeling of letting your boss down, only then will I personally accept your apology.  Who am I you might ask?  I am someone representative of how a significant segment of the Jewish population feels, I am an American, and I am a Jew. These factors all give me the right to speak my mind.

Mr. Spicer, if you take the time to learn more about what happened in Europe under Nazi occupation and truly understand the devastation, I am sure you will not only express openly a new mindset, but you may even be a better person for it as well.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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