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Quick Thoughts: Week 1

Scott Bahlmann

During the Thursday morning lecture we considered the influence cultural politics has on electoral politics, with the population generally driving change that can be adapted by politicians when it’s gained enough popularity. Politicians are generally not willing to lead a change that runs contrary to popular views of the time. One exception I considered is the Space Race, with Kennedy determined to put a man on the moon, and inspiring the nation with his conviction. This is particularly interesting because the civil rights movement was a major impact of cultural politics during the same period. Kennedy avoided taking a stance on that issue because it was so divisive to those that put him in power, so we have a parallel of both cultural and political progression. 

Snow College production of The Diary of Anne Frank - 2003

Snow College production of The Diary of Anne Frank - 2003

I came to the Anne Frank house with a deep familiarity, having grown up with stories of my grandfather’s work camp experiences, and sharing the Frank’s story in the role of Otto Frank. While appreciating the insights and sensitivity of the experience, I thought the museum had a great opportunity to highlight or mention other contemporary conflicts that relate to the Franks situation, such as Darfur, Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda. The unifying experience of the Tropenmuseum’s Things That Matter exhibit demonstrated the impact that shared stories can have. Though there wouldn’t be space for that in the Anne Frank House, they could perhaps do something more simple. 

Pillows in the Jewish Children’s Museum Theatre

Pillows in the Jewish Children’s Museum Theatre

The Jewish Children’s Museum opened the door to other cultures and experiences through simple quotations. Alternatively, the Anne Frank House ended with a video that seemed to bookend these types of conflicts. Among those being interviewed were childhood friends, Whoopie Goldberg, and a tourist who had finished the tour and said something to the effect of “If we aren’t careful, this sort of thing could happen again. We’ve got to remember so we can nip it in the bud before it blooms.” To me, this disregards other cultures where racial and religious genocide has not only bloomed, but gone to seed. Anne’s hopefulness and optimism is a perfect counterbalance to these horrors, and the Anne Frank house seems an optimal place to honor them alongside the Jewish Holocaust.