Awit, surveying Washington’s monuments, once diagnosed the nation’s capital as suffering an “edifice complex.” The city’s vast array of monumental buildings, housing the three branches of government, honoring the founders and heroes of the republic and housing extraordinary temples of fine art, science, technology and history, could give an overwhelmed visitor that impression.
This week, former President Bill Clinton remarked how those buildings hold special meaning for visitors from around the world, celebrating the grandest accomplishments of man, and how one stands out as the nation’s “conscience.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. Not everyone thought at the time that building a Holocaust Museum so close to the Mall was a good idea, but it has welcomed more than 34 million visitors since, testifying to a universally humbling recognition of a dark piece of human history and presenting a daunting challenge to the world in the phrase “never again.”
In a moving ceremony in the company of a thousand survivors of the Holocaust, Mr. Clinton focused on the memorial museum’s relevance to our present day. Although 99.5 of the human DNA links every human to the others with virtually identical genes, he observed that the masses tend to dwell on the 0.5 percent of separation “that makes us vulnerable to the fever, the sickness that the Nazis gave to the Germans.” It is that virus that we can see taking form today in our interdependent world “that is the biggest threat to our children and grandchildren.”
The former president’s words sound all the more menacing to anyone watching a YouTube video recorded from Iqra TV in Saudi Arabia. In it, a bright-eyed, plump-cheeked 3-year-old girl in a white hijab, has been carefully programmed to answer a female interviewer’s questions:
“Are you a Muslim? ” the interviewer asks.
“Yes,” the little girl replies.
“Do you know the Jews?”
“Do you like them?”
“Why don’t you like them?”
“Because they are apes and pigs.”
“Who said that about them?”
“Where did he say it?”