My Impressions of the Exhibit at Duke University by Shivam Patel

The exhibit at Duke University was simply astounding. I was already mesmerized by the 3 tables of anti-Semitic and racist literature that they laid out for us to view until I heard the curator say that the library received nearly 90 boxes of information related to these topics. That’s when my jaw dropped. I really wish we could have spent more time with the documents, as there was plenty of information readily available to me for my term paper on Holocaust Deniers. The pictures of the concentration camps that I viewed in the spiral notebook were horrific. One picture in particular, the one in which civilian non-Jews were lined up in front of a mass grave of Jews, really struck me. It’s insanely difficult for me to believe that non-Jews nearby the concentration camps allegedly had no idea that the atrocities occurred. I cannot even begin to fathom the guilt I would have felt if I were one of those ignorant non-Jewish civilians.

After flipping through this notebook, I came across the book with the cover created from a Holocaust victim’s uniform. Touching that book cover, and in turn touching the clothing that an actual Holocaust victim wore, sent shivers down my spine. Touching the rough clothing made me think only about if I were in the situation where all of my belongings were taken away and I was only given a rough, tattered uniform to wear at all times. Although I did not get a chance to read the eight-page-long letter from Germany to the United States, I heard negative comments from everyone who read it.

Additionally, I found it extremely ludicrous that The Christian Nationalist White Peoples Party wrote hate slogans about Jews to the Southern Poverty Law Center, including “Communism is JEWISH” and “JEWS are the Race of SATAN” in the letter. Then, I encountered the two racist newspapers on the tables located closest to the door we entered. In my opinion, and probably the opinions of every other sane person, these newspapers expressed crude and unnecessary humor toward pretty much everyone besides white people. Within these newspaper editions, I also noticed ads for racist bumper stickers. This is significant because I noticed that I have seen several of these bumper stickers on various cars while driving around North Carolina.

Overall, it is quite amazing that the Southern Poverty Law Center is still, in the year 2014, after astonishing human feats have been accomplished, combating white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups in America. Given the meaningful documents, a mere fraction of the entire stock, we viewed on our excursion to Duke University, I believe that the Southern Poverty Law Center conducts great work in its anti-racism efforts. However, it seems like there is still a great deal of work remaining for eliminating racism in America.

-Shivam Patel

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