Vacation Diary, 2.1- Anne Frank House

Yup.  Still talking about vacation.  This is a followup to Vacation Diary, 2.0, and delves into topics slightly deeper than bikes, beer, and penis balloons.  Yeah, I just put delves deeper and penis balloons in the same sentence.  I can’t quite believe you people show up and read this drivel. 

Juxtaposed to Pride and beer and bike riding, was our Anne Frank house experience.  A blunt reminder of a time when acceptance and safety were anything other than assumed in Amsterdam.

Being there with my children, so similar in age to Anne and her sister at the time they were in hiding, was quite the reality check.  And seeing my kids, who aren’t exactly the world’s best museum goers, silently honed in and listening to every word of the audio tour is something I hope to never forget.

Aspects I found particularly striking:

  • The family wasn’t Dutch.  They had already fled Germany.  They had packed up their entire life and left their home.  
  • They weren’t the only family hiding in this small space, where they were required to be essentially silent during working hours (hard to imagine my family could’ve gone more than 20 minutes without being discovered).
  • They were up there for over two years.

Of course I’d learned all these things when I read the book in seventh grade, but that was a year or two ago, and, I was in seventh grade.  I don’t think my seventh grade self was particularly able to comprehend the gravity of the scenario.  I sure as hell didn’t have any idea how hard it is to keep teenagers quiet for extended periods of time.

And, even having been to the museum, and even though there are currently 65.6 million forcibly displaced people in the world right now, I still really cannot wrap my mind around it (fyi, that’s privilege).  I cannot imagine my family being forced out of our country.  Giving up our physical home, the life we’ve built and love, uprooting our children and moving to a foreign country under duress; only to end up in hiding.  And, ultimately, a concentration camp.

photo credit

A week after our visit to the museum, while roasting in our own juices in Dubrovnik (more on that later), we watched news reports of good ol’ boys and girls marching through streets in Charlottesville with Nazi flags.

And then my President (yeah, I throw up in my mouth anytime I say or type that, but he is, indeed the President of my country), came out and spoke of violence on many sides.

Wait.  WHAT?

In case we thought those words accidentally fell out of his mouth, he repeated the on multiple occasions.

Words fail, but that’s never stopped me.  And, believe it or not, I’m kind of trying to keep my language in check as I write this, but WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK?  My family being able to visit the Anne Frank house was an amazing opportunity (born of privilege), but I didn’t have to go there to know NAZIS ARE BAD.  I took world history in high school.  As did every student I graduated with.  And even though my teacher was just this side of worthless, I learned Nazis were deplorable.  And no one claimed there was hatred and bigotry on all sides in Nazi Germany.  The Nazis were, are, and always will be indefensible.  Those flags are representative.  And not of anything good.  And they have no place in America or anywhere else.  And yeah, I feel the same about confederate flags and statues.  Because, you know, I hate history.  Give me a fuckin’ break.

I thought perhaps such BS would run its course before we returned to America.  How very cute and optimistic and TERRIBLY FUCKING MISGUIDED that idea was.  And yeah, fuck it, I’m giving up on watching my language for today.  And probably tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

My own (largely white) school district has come under attack for indoctrinating students.  It’s a whole big can of messed up, and if you want to know more about it, just google Edina indoctrination.  The short of it is there’s a new definition of indoctrination.  And it’s a doozy.Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 12.53.41 PMIt really is an amazing time to be alive.

Truth be told, I initially didn’t want to write about my experience at the Anne Frank house.  The inevitability of me misspeaking or underselling it daunted me.  And, honestly, it’s taken more work and thought than I usually put into a post (and despite said work and thought, I’m certain it’s going to be one of my worst posts ever, in terms of telling you what I’m trying to say).

Here’s the deal though.  Much as I wish the world were an easy place, it just isn’t.  And it’s never going to be.  And much as I’d like to just stick my head in the sand and only write about my stinky sassy children, that would be a complete cop-out in a post about our visit to the Anne Frank house.  And it would mean the bastards win.  Which I cannot abide.  I will still keep talking to my children about white privilege.  And racism, and sexism, and every other -ism I deem worthy.  And their school better damn well do the same.  Please pray for their poor sweet oppressed souls.  Insert eye roll here.

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