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8/1/2022 Op-ed: Let me introduce you to Anne Frank
By Rep. John G. Edwards

It has been said by many that evil begins with silence. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.”

And that’s why I’ve decided not to remain silent about something that happened in our community that has caused a lot of suffering, outrage and frustration. As everybody knows, the owner of a Tiverton restaurant became entangled in a briar patch of controversy after posting a meme that made light of the suffering of Anne Frank, the most famous victim of the Holocaust.

The community displayed its outrage. The owner eventually apologized. And there the story ends.

Except it shouldn’t end there.

So what should we expect beyond an apology? Well, for starters, I would like to introduce the restaurateur to Anne Frank, the young lady in question — a 15-year-old Jewish girl living in the Netherlands during the worst time in history.

She loved her family. She was interested in boys. She wanted to become a writer. She was kind, warm, emotional, optimistic and hopeful — right up to the moment when evil itself came pounding at the door. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Many concentration camps still stand today — preserved as reminders of a time when monsters walked the earth. At the Buchenwald camp, there’s a large clock at the front gate that has been permanently and deliberately set to 3:15 — because it was at that moment on April 11, 1945, that the United States 9th Armored Infantry Division came blasting through that gate. It remains as a memorial to the moment when the worst horror that had ever been perpetrated in the history of the world finally came to an end.

It came to an end because the Americans arrived. That is our legacy. That is our heritage. That is who we are. And the minute we lose sight of that fact, the minute we take a page out of the other guy’s playbook — that’s when we become the monsters.

That’s why this is so important — not because the meme was offensive, not because it was dark comedy, not because it was a social faux pas, but because of the shoulder shrugging that came afterwards.

Fortunately, Anne Frank’s dream of becoming a writer came true — long after her death. The diary she penned as a young girl has inspired millions, and has helped to remind us not to remain silent.

Your apology is accepted. Now I urge you pick up her diary and read every letter. There’s a copy waiting for you at the Tiverton Library.

John G. Edwards is a state representative from District 70. He resides in Tiverton.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903