THE BLOG
07/25/2014 05:58 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

Let's Stop Persecuting 'Auschwitz Selfie Girl' for Smiling at a Camera

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This selfie of a girl in front of Auschwitz has prompted unfair social media outrage.

I grew up Jewish so I'm naturally very sensitive to the horrors that took place at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. I'm also very critical of Holocaust deniers and those who would minimize what the Nazis did to Jews, gays and other "undesirables."

But I think we need to give that young girl who took a selfie of herself at the concentration camp a break. Alabama teenager Breanna Mitchell has been vilified in social media for gross insensitivity for doing what many others have done before her.

I've been to concentration camps and other infamous places including ground zero in New York, Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam and battlefields in the U.S. and other countries were countless people were slaughtered, and I've seen people taking pictures of themselves in front of the scene with a big smile on their face. It's natural. It's what we're taught to do when we stand in front of a camera.

Breanna tweeted and told a TV interviewer (scroll down to watch) that she does "understand what happened there" and had planned to visit there with her dad who died a year before she was able to make the trip.

Had this been a seasoned politician or journalist, I would criticize them (perhaps gently) for misjudgment. But this is a teenage girl who visited the site because she has a strong interest in the history of World War II and the Holocaust. If anything, she should be congratulated for caring about what happened there.

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If I saw her partying at the site or trying to diminish the horror and historical importance of what happened there, I would think she was being insensitive, but smiling? Come on, we're all taught to smile in pictures. I'd like to think I would have the judgement not to smile at such a locale, but I honestly can't swear that I've never posed with a smile for a picture at such an important but horrible place.

It's hard not to agree with her followup Tweet, asking people to "quit tweeting, to quoting, retweeting and favoriting my picture."

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Video of Breanna explaining on TV