Spoke in a debate on Holocaust Memorial Day, led by my colleague Stewart Maxwell
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP):
"I congratulate and commend my colleague Stewart Maxwell on securing the debate. I also commend Brandon Low and Lauren Galloway, who led time for reflection today and delivered powerful presentations to the Parliament. It has become traditional for us to hear from young people about their thoughts and experiences following a visit to Auschwitz to mark Holocaust memorial day. Every year, the presentations that we receive at time for reflection continue to be powerful and thought provoking.
"As has been said, the Holocaust did not simply appear out of the sky and arrive all of a sudden. There was a long lead-in to it and the Nazis capitalised on a wave of anti-Semitic sentiment that was often fuelled by prominent individuals and media outlets. That promoted and endorsed a certain view of the Jews, which allowed that view to gain public traction and desensitised many people to the horrors that would be committed in society, even before the final solution was enacted.
"We often say that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. What I take from today’s presentation by Lauren and Brandon and from the “Don’t stand by” call that is being made on Holocaust memorial day is that, I fear, we are reaching that stage again. If we look around, we see inflammatory rhetoric being put across in the pages of mainstream newspapers in relation to individuals of certain religions or ethnic backgrounds and we see the rhetoric of certain high-profile political candidates and politicians in relation to those of specific backgrounds.
"I also fear that many of the lessons that have been learned and arguments that have been made since the Holocaust are lost and falling on some deaf ears as economic difficulty is once again blamed on a specific section of society. We must stand firm against that, and ensure that that rhetoric does not win the day and that people who put across those arguments and who would be susceptible to them are shown not only the error of the arguments but where they lead. They would have led in the past to the Kindertransport being turned away, in the way that many people are arguing that unaccompanied refugee children should not be accepted into our borders. They led in the Holocaust to the mass extermination of people.
"That all started from arguments about who was responsible for economic difficulties that society faced and with the idea that individuals of a certain religion or background should be identified publicly by some form of insignia. Those elements are all now creeping back into mainstream discourse so, as we were told today, we must not stand by but stand firm against that kind of creeping rhetoric and against such intolerance being allowed to come back into society.
"I support the arguments that have been made. We have much still to do to ensure that such extremism does not rear its head in mainstream politics and society again."