Idaho’s Wassmuth Center dragged into task force under cloud of anonymous falsehood

“They hide behind the cause of Anne Frank.”

Last week, the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights was introduced to McGeachin’s indoctrination task force. Speaking on behalf of an anonymous parent, Lorna Mitson presented falsehood and mischaracterization into the public record. The task force is not about truth, NOR, as the lieutenant governor herself stated, is it an opportunity for dialogue.

Etched in the stone of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, George Santayana reminds us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Students of American history can recall a time when elected officials were purporting innuendo as they looked for communists lurking in classrooms and movie houses.

Dan Prinzing

It was 1954, and as Harvard law dean Ervin Griswold described, Wisconsin Republican senator Joseph McCarthy was “judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one.”

It was said then, and it bears repeating, “Have you no sense of decency?”

The Wassmuth Center does not hide behind the cause of Anne Frank – we proudly share it. Yes, we do educate for social justice. Yes, we do proclaim the importance of human rights education. As Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, stated, “Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

Yes, we do deliver programs and resources that examine how injustice devolves in a community; how words are used as a weapon to target or marginalize members of our community; how left unchecked, injustice can culminate with violence and the elimination of those perceived as “the other” based on race, religion, orientation, gender, ability, or nationality.

Anne Frank knew full well the ramification of being “the other.”

On Nov. 19, 1942, she wrote, “I often see long lines of good, innocent people, accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, ordered about by a handful of men who bully and beat them until they nearly drop. I get frightened myself when I think of close friends who are now at the mercy of the cruelest monsters ever to stalk the earth. And all because they’re Jews.”

Yes, the Wassmuth Center upholds its mission “to promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education and to foster individual responsibility to work for justice and peace.”

For 25 years we have existed as a beacon of light in times of darkness – providing both a face and a voice to those whom others have attempted to erase or silence. Ours has never been a singular voice, but rather the collective voices of a community – educators, students, clergy, business owners, workers, and retirees – who proclaim, “Not in my town, not in my state – Idaho is too great for hate.”

No, we are not a community that hides behind Anne Frank. We are a community inspired by Anne. For if we are afraid to recognize or acknowledge injustice, there will never be justice. A just and free society is one in which the rights of minorities will be safe from the whims of intolerant majorities.

The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights was introduced to the task force under a cloud of anonymous falsehood.

Echoing the words of American educator and author Booker T. Washington, “A lie doesn’t become the truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.”

Rather than talk about us, we invite Lorna and the members of the task force to talk with us. Join a community that gathers in the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. It’s a space that invites dialogue.

Written by Dan Prinzing, Ph.D., the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which is home to the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.



Dan Prinzing

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