Charles Lewis – Apr 5, 2011 – 8:27 PM ET | Last Updated: Apr 5, 2011 8:32 PM ET
The new Canadian Museum for Human Rights is misguided and should be entirely rethought, a Holocaust historian and author says.
“It’s a very noble idea but I don’t think they had any idea in the beginning what they were getting into,” said Michael Marrus, professor emeritus of Holocaust studies at the University of Toronto. “This is supposed to be a human rights museum and it has started off by being highly divisive. The only thing they can do is to start all over. I am despairing of the whole thing.”
The taxpayer funded, Winnipeg-based museum, scheduled to open late next year, has been controversial because of its decision to create a separate exhibit on the Jewish Holocaust and put all other genocides in another room. A variety of ethnic groups have said there should be no preference for Jewish suffering over the suffering of others and have suggested a single exhibit on genocide in general.
Prof. Marrus, who was consulted about the museum during the planning phase a few years ago, said the first mistake was to consult with a wide variety of Canadians about what they would like to see. The problem with that kind of consultation, he said, is that every group will want its grievances displayed.