When I was a teenager, I read a story by another teenager. I don't remember who it was or even if they were male or female. It must have been someone famous or well-connected because ordinary people didn't get their stories published in those days. She, we'll say "she" although I don't remember, she was reading and found out about the Holocaust. No one had told her anything about it and then she found out about it.
In this, she was a lot like me and, I suspect, many other teenagers. The Holocaust was within living memory but it wasn't talked about for the same reason we didn't talk about Uncle Nick's suicide or Aunt Jane's affair; it wasn't talked about because it was horrible. This girl was also unlike me because she was Jewish. She'd been living a normal teenager's life and she then she found out that millions of people were killed for being what she was. And her life was never the same again after that.
I remember trying to imagine what that must have felt like. Today, we'd say I tried to empathize. And I realized I couldn't do it. In retrospect, I think that was one of the most important decisions of my life. It wasn't turning point. A whole lot of things must have been building up to it.
These days, there is a movement to protect kids from bad feelings that come from being attacked verbally or being exposed to hate. We want to protect kids from the realization that others hate them and that some of these others who hate them don't even know they exist and yet hate them just for being what they are. We try to eliminate language, movies, and language that might hurt them by making them aware of these hatreds.
But what about the Holocaust? It's a blunt fact that shouldn't be hidden. And even if you managed that trick, and there are some people who would if they could, there are other blunt facts waiting to surprise you. "Reality is the thing that won't go away if you ignore it." And reality is full of hate.
But now we call kids who say hurtful things "bullies' as if being made aware that others mock, disdain or hate you is just as bad as being punched in the face.
We've entire generations on this.
We've tried to protect them from experiences that are inevitable. In the process, we've given them the impression that they can get outraged when they have these experiences, experiences that almost everyone who ever lived has had to deal with.
And it's all based on bogus science.