Tory MP ridiculed after getting basic facts about Auschwitz completely wrong
Houses of Parliament

If this week has taught us anything, it’s that some members of the British public have a real affinity to large, insentient lumps of rock.

There have been many bizarre arguments mounted to defend keeping memorials to historic figures with racist pasts, like slave traders.

A central one that has emerged is that removing statues of individuals like Edward Colston is “erasing history”.

Never mind that the removal of Colston’s Bristol statue at the weekend prompted the most Google searches for ‘Edward Colston’ since records began in 2004.

Arguing along this particular line of thinking caused Tory MP Simon Clarke to make an embarrassing error.

Taking to Twitter, Clarke attempted to argue the case for why statues like Colston’s should remain where they stand, stating that the UK was a “force for good”.

Clarke also warned that examining Britain’s history would result in a “darker and dystopian future”.

Or it could… lead to more equality and a better understanding of the context structural racism sits in.

At one point, however, Clarke engaged in debate with author Irvine Welsh, comparing keeping the slave trader statues to the preservation of concentration camp Auschwitz.

“Irvine, it’s precisely because Germany has bravely confronted her past that Auschwitz still stands as a memorial of man’s inhumanity to man,” Clarke wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

Auschwitz, of course, is the infamous Nazi death camp where over 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, lost their lives in the Holocaust.

A comparison between monuments made in honour of people who made money off enslaving others and a site preserved solely to remember the atrocities suffered by those who were kept as slaves is wrong and tasteless at best.

But Clarke also made a crucial error. Auschwitz is located in Poland: Auschwitz is the German spelling of ‘Oswiecim,’ the Polish town where the camp was built, 31 miles outside Krakow.

His mistake suggested that perhaps Clarke needed to do his own work on not erasing history.

Of course, others quickly picked up on the error with ‘Auschwitz is in Poland’ even trending.

Clarke was quizzed on his statement.

Others criticised his decision to comment without the correct knowledge.

Others started combing through Clarke’s finding more worrying inaccuracies – especially given his history degree.

Clearly the British curriculum needs to step up.

Perhaps Simon Clarke should be first back in the classroom?

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