Twitter may have reached its inevitable, ultimate and final form with a debate over whether or not Anne Frank benefited from white privilege.
Yes, Anne Frank.
This bizarre and completely deplorable debate has seemingly spawned from a twisted notion that because she was white she benefitted from going unnoticed by the Nazis during those dark times.
Perhaps reassuringly, the depraved theory has been rightly shot down on Twitter by people on the left and the right of the political argument
White privilege is the idea that, with near enough identical circumstances, those with white skin will benefit over non-white people. It is worth stating categorically that this is undeniably a thing that exists and clearly should not.
As a Jew, I feel it would be remiss not to point out that the Jewish relationship with whiteness is complicated. “Two Jews, three opinions” as the saying goes so it’s important not to treat Jewish people as a monolith in complete agreement regardless of the topic at hand.
Whether Jews are white or not is a question that has no simple answer. Some would argue that whiteness and, by extension, white privilege, is in the eye of the beholder. The history of civilisation has antisemitism as a running theme pretty much from the off and pogroms don’t exactly scream privilege.
White Jews have an ability to “pass” and are less obvious outsiders than people of colour but one point in human history during which this was not much of an advantage was during the Holocaust.
Anne Frank is perhaps the most famous victim of the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate the Jewry of Europe. Her diary account of life in hiding during the 1940s is the most widely read of all Second World War texts and remains a truly astonishing evocation of the power of the human spirit however bleak the circumstances.
The Frank family were arrested by the Gestapo in August 1944 and Anne died at the age of fifteen at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp early in 1945.
A series of ludicrous online disputes in the 21st Century have apparently culminated in a teenage writer of extraordinary prose whose only crime was being Jewish being labelled a beneficiary of white privilege.
It is enough to make one despair of the world but perhaps we would be better off remembering Anne Frank’s own, more optimistic words: “It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
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