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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The Auschwitz Syndrome or What is to be a Man

My daughter sent us this link and her outrage over this video this morning. Jacqui, wisely, chose not to watch it. It is not the most vulgar or sad thing I've ever seen, but it is very sad and the faint of heart might want to avoid it.



Emma wrote: "These kinds of things always make me thankful for how high-functioning John (John is our youngest son, 15) is and how wonderful St. Paul's (John attended elementary school at St. Paul's in Ft. Wayne, and yes, they were wonderful to us and to him) has been. But I think this video is going to go viral soon and people will be aware of the kinds of abuse that can happen in the classroom, especially one in which the children can't communicate to their parents.
Regardless of our own connection to autism, you should watch this video."

Here is my response:

Yes, this is very sad. Fortunately for us and for John, this could never happen to
him. He is vulnerable to other things, but not this. Thank God for that.

The school made a serious, but certainly well-intentioned, tactical error in creating a classroom with all autistic children who couldn't communicate.  The teacher and aides discovered they wasn't any accountability for insults and inappropriate remarks.. One virtuous, no, make that one normal, decent," adult would have put a stop to it. But instead, the adults, free of accountability, fell victim to their baser desires - like guards at Auschwitz.

In some ways I am actually sympathetic to the adults. I can imagine that it was a very difficult environment. 20 kids like Aiken would exhaust a teacher and aide. These kids are demanding. They don't respond in appropriate ways. They don't say thanks. They don't seem to make any progress. The parents are probably mostly a mess and also demanding. These two adults probably had high ideals and wanted to help the children. Btu they got thrown into this  classroom and came to resent their students. The constant crying,
hitting, the lack of affection, and so forth overcame them. Then one of them lashed out, verbally, at a kid. The other one was shocked for a second then laughed and they both realized that there would not be any consequences. They could do and say most anything because the kids couldn't tell anyone. They just had to keep up appearances. So they lashed out more and more. The dad had it exactly right: they didn't respect their students. They treated them like furniture. I expect that they felt hurt by the kids - by the crying, the complaining, and the lack of affection - so they try to hurt the kids with words and the fact that it probably didn't always work probably made it worse, or when they could get a rise, our of a kid like Aiken, they might have poured it on all the more.

Don't get me wrong. This is evil. It breaks my heart to think of those kids enduring this. I believe that they did hurt Aiken and others even though Aiken and the others couldn't express it. Words have power. They hurt. They should be fired, absolutely. But I can understand how they fell, how easy it would be. And in the
editted audio there were a few glimpses that indicated they were trying some. We heard some stuff about what day it is and an attempt to be excited and to communicate with difficult children.Similar incidents have been recorded in nursing homes and with coma patients.

The error, it seems to me, was to create a classroom of all autistics. I don't know but I'd be surprised if the teacher and aide didn't have a fair amount of training and experience. Once again, we see that education doesn't overcome evil. But I don't think this would have happened in a class room of Down Syndrome
children. Because Down Syndrome kids are sweet. They hug, they smile,etc. It was particularly foolish to put all autistics into one room.

The question always comes up regarding the concentration camps. Howcould this happen? How could men do this to one another? I think the answer is this: it always happens when we think we can get away with
it. The guards so no consequences to their inhumanity. They were in power and there was no threat to the power anywhere. So they fell to their baser desires, they became what we all are in our fallen hearts.

This is why we need the first use of the Law and why the Law is good for us. We need the threat of punishment and shame to keep us from acting out our baser desires. God spare us from every being students in that classroom, in a nursing home without someone looking out after us, to be prisoners, or, worst of all, to be the guards/teachers/aides who do those things.
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