USC Shoah Foundation’s Programmatic Response to the Invasion of the US Capitol

Mon, 01/11/2021 - 10:55am

As a violent mob invaded the United States Capitol in an attempt to derail the electoral process, documented instances of antisemitism, anti-black racism, and other forms of hatred emerged.  

One rioter paraded in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, a shameful sight that resonated deeply with Dr. Eva Umlauf, a USC Shoah Foundation interviewee who described her shock to the New York Times. Others brandished Confederate flags and chanted exhortations to civil war. There were well-known white nationalists with established histories of hate speech streaming their exploits live. 

Earlier in the day, a newly sworn-in Congresswoman, who has since apologized, exclaimed at a rally, “This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, ‘whoever has the youth, has the future.’” 

As hatred and ignorance reared its ugly head, USC Shoah Foundation has activated a series of programming to meet this moment. 

In early 2017, during the first 100 days following the inauguration of America's 45th president, we launched a testimony-based resource via iWitness—“Ways to Inspire Respect” series—to highlight the importance of respect and effective communication skills. As a new president takes office, and in light of this week’s turmoil, we will be relaunching the series to engage millions of students around the world.

“Ways to Inspire Respect” empowers students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to counter hatred and indifference in their daily lives. By engaging with the stories of survivors and witnesses of genocide, students confront the difficult reality of hate, and forge connections with real people who experienced and overcame it. In humanizing these individuals, educators can inspire their students to respect all people, and to take action as responsible participants in their communities.

Themes addressed in Ways to Inspire Respect include the following:

  • Countering Hatred, Intolerance, and Violent Extremism

  • Defending Civil and Human Rights

  • Building Community and Inspiring Respect

  • Fostering Cross-Cultural Understanding

  • Standing Up to Indifference

  • Courage, Resilience, and Civic Responsibility

Defiling hallowed ground violated our most sacred of institutions, and yet, our Democratic institutions remain strong. Sadly, five Americans now lay dead. We share these resources and professional development programming to empower people to be Stronger Than Hate in their own lives. To learn more about USC Shoah Foundation's Stronger Than Hate Initiative, please visit: http://sfi.usc.edu/sfi-sth.

As always, we draw inspiration from the testimonies of survivors in the Visual History Archive. In the below clip, Holocaust survivor Elena Nightingale reminds us of the importance of learning from history.

USC Shoah Foundation