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Tragedy and the Power of Social Media

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Ande Dagan: My mom and stepdad were inside the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., this morning when the shooting occurred. Both of them had parents who survived the Holocaust, and were on the third floor of the museum when the gunman started shooting.

shooting at holocaust memorial museum

My mom and stepdad were immediately rushed out an exit door with people shouting at them to run -- that someone was shooting -- and to get as far away from the building as possible. They were able to get out safely and called me immediately afterwards.

I flipped on the television and scanned the Internet looking for the story, but since it had just happened, nothing was available. I went on Twitter and tweeted about what my mom had reported to me. Within minutes, I had someone from CNN and the Washington Post asking for her contact information. They were trying to put together the story with the most accurate information available and at that point in the day, there was very little information out there.

The power of social media throughout this awful situation has been nothing short of phenomenal. CNN got in touch with my mom and she gave a very eloquent on-air interview about the tragedy of the situation and the sadness of the never-ending hatred that is unfortunately still very prominent in the world. Meanwhile, I have been receiving tweets from complete strangers offering sympathy and support.

I'm still shaken up about the whole thing. I am also outraged at the unnecessary recognition the (I'm intentionally not naming him) shooter has been getting. Traditional news outlets are drawing attention to his anti-Semitic book and quoting hateful passages from it. For most viewers, the quotes are shocking and disgusting (read: great for ratings!) but for neo-Nazis it is advertising.

Trying to make sense of this tragedy is useless. I am deeply saddened by the incident but thankful that more people, namely the thousands of children who tour through the museum daily, were not injured.

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206 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jen  June 10, 2009, 6:00 PM

I have to disagree with the “unnecessary recognition” issue. My Hebrew Teacher was a Holocaust survivor, and was so shaken by what she experienced she had to video her telling, which all of us were shown when we hit 6th grade religious education. Most people do not realize that violent antisemitism and racism still exist - actually, I just got an IM from a friend who said “Who DOES that?” The answer is this is who does this, and I think that its important for people to realize these people are still here. Hitler came to power because normally decent people stuck their heads in the sand about what words turn into - the same should never be allowed by anyone again.

MarcomMom June 10, 2009, 7:08 PM

It’s absolutely horrific. I can’t understand a second victimization of some of the most oppressed people in history — and I say this as a Christian. I am so sorry for your parents’ experiences in the Holocaust and here in America, where this shouldn’t happen. It’s truly, truly sickening.

Mother-Thinker June 10, 2009, 7:24 PM

I’m so sorry for the scare. My husband is Jewish and my daughter is being raised Jewish. It is a whole new level of fear for their safety to know there are people in the world who would do us harm.

Judaism is a gorgeous religion and a wonderful, loving, community-oriented culture. It makes this so hard to understand.

Prayers to the security guard and his family at this horrible time.

rico June 11, 2009, 1:35 AM

This type of thing happens to palestinians at the hands of the jews every day. We rarely hear about it because it undermines the holocaust exaggeration and that jews are constant victims. Hardly.

Jean Amodea June 11, 2009, 8:35 AM

To those of the Jewish heritage and faith: YOU are chosen ones blessed by YHWH - the Torah tells us this and He (YaHuWeH) will bless those that bless THEE (YOU).
The hatred stems from Ha Shatan (the adversary) and will be with us until the trumpet blows for the final time on Yom Teruah. Christians, know that Gentiles are given the grace of a blessing as they bless those of Jewish faith/heritage, but also know that you too have a portion of the heritage as true sons and daughters of Elohim through the sacrifice of Yahushua (Yah is salvation).

Concerned Citizen June 12, 2009, 4:57 AM

Without getting into a discussion about left wing rhetoric being spouted with little comprehension or understanding of the history or issues involved from more than one perspective - when does a white supremacist who is antisemitic who conducts a shooting at the holocaust museum have to do directly with the issues of the middle east and is an excuse for such?

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