Holocaust museum’s exhibit on George Floyd generates controversy

The exhibit, “Uprooting Prejudice: Faces of Change,” opened earlier this month at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland, north of Orlando. 

Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida

In a bizarre and controversial parallel, a Florida Holocaust museum now features an exhibit commemorating George Floyd, who died in May after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

Their website claims, “When someone faces an act of antisemitism, racism, or any form of identity based hate, whether it results in death or not, there is an uprising of many emotions. We felt it was important to bring the human experience of the aftermath to our museum.”

The exhibit, “Uprooting Prejudice: Faces of Change,” opened earlier this month at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland, north of Orlando.

The photographer, John Noltner, lives in the Minneapolis suburbs.

The exhibit features 45 of his photos of individuals reacting to the news of Floyd’s death.

The museum’s site presents an image of a black woman with a caption evoking Holocaust-era fears: “I don’t want to be filled with fear every time me or my brothers go outside. I don’t want to worry about whether our lives are at risk just for doing things that everyone else does.” Another photo depicts a black girl with a tear streaming down her cheek with the caption: “Am I next?”

“We have produced this so that people can come and look these individuals in the eye. So you come face to face with people, so you can really experience the feelings that they were feeling,” Assistant Director Lisa Bachman explained.

Backlash at the parallels to the most heinous genocide in human history followed.

Famous Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel branch, called the exhibit “totally inappropriate,” according to World Israel News.

“You’re talking about the police in a democracy, which operates in a democratic way, rule of law. Sometimes it’s violated, and sometimes with tragic results. But this is not the Third Reich in the United States,” he said. “That’s not what’s going on there. And to juxtapose that to the Shoah is simply totally inappropriate. We are facing a very serious problem of universalization when dealing with the Shoah, and this is something that’s very, very important that we fight against.”

Journalist Martin Daubney tweeted Sunday, “To align Floyd’s tragic death with the massacre of 6 million Jews is hugely insensitive. But it’s also political: it positions police as Nazis.”

An elderly Jewish friend of mine in Florida texted me:

“This is a typical example of mixing things up in this confused world. Each issue stands alone in its impact and intensity, and changing the meaning of things to fit whatever is the current ‘favorite’ is foolish, weak, unhelpful and a string of other adjectives I could list.”