The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On this annual day of commemoration, we honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism by educating ourselves to help prevent future genocides. We can honor their memory by not repeating the sins of the past. Here's a link to a video: https://www.ushmm.org/remember/international-holocaust-remembrance-day?fbclid=IwAR26EC9hmKQn7sq0eMeOUcPjmZYpPuolBNpiTFsA0t7E3uwBEBNhgk7yeKk
In reading the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson it was sobering to realize that the Nazis studied the racial laws in the United States to create their own racialized standards and even rejected a few of the US laws as too extreme. As horrifying as the historical records are, it helped me understand how ordinary people get brainwashed into believing white supremacist ideas, the role propaganda plays in shaping our views, and how important the Methodist quadrilateral is to navigate our way out of such narrow, partisan, nationalist ideas. We, Methodists, hold to scripture, tradition, reason and experience. And while, unfortunately, the tradition of this country has racial divisions and systems that proclaim white people are superior and people of color are less than fully human, when we hold that belief up against scripture, reason and experience.... it fails miserably.
The rise of propaganda and alternative information promoted as facts has a lot to do with narrowing our field of understanding. So here's some questions to consider:
How do you become more knowledgeable about the sources (their biases, their mission, their funding model & ownership, their history, their journalistic integrity) of the information you rely on? Are you using various sources for information?
How do you combat misinformation on social media and networks?
How do you support transparency and accountability in your media sources?
How do we make people less susceptible to misinformation, to sensational stories, to propaganda, to information with less scientific support?
Watch Fake on PBS. This timely documentary series explores how to be a smarter information consumer with episodes like "Searching for Truth in the Age of Misinformation" and "Fact Checking."
You might consider using an app such as NewsGuard which is a transparent, accountable, respected journalism organization that is not funded through advertising.
Watch Public Broadcasting Stations or networks who don't rely on a capitalistic, advertising model.
Other social media guidelines:
–Be careful not to forward sensationalized stories, urban legends, posts that say "share to 10 people." Check fact-checking websites like snopes.com before forwarding information. On Facebook, there's a small "i" icon that provides information on the source of news organizations and their trustworthiness and history.
–Watch for deep fakes–videos that have been altered to put words in someone's mouth or have been photo-shopped. If it doesn't sound like something someone would say, be suspicious.
–Be aware of fake accounts pushing an agenda. Do you know the person behind the account? Is it a trusted friend? Is there information on this person's profile? "Mutual friends" may not be a good indicator because your friends may not be careful in "friending" fake accounts.
And always rely on your Methodist heritage and the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a tool to evaluate whether something is scriptural and reasonable? Is it consistent with our tradition of liberation and inclusion, is it compassionate to the experience of others?
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