Graduation Day, especially from your nation's most prestigious university, is a special time for celebration. It appears that as Thailand's prestigious Chulalongkorn University was bestowing an Honorary Degree to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn last week, some celebrants were posing at a nearby huge mural of superheroes outside the University's Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts building. Prominent among the 'superheroes' was Nazi mass murderer Adolph Hitler.
Hitler as a superhero? Is he an appropriate role model for Thailand's younger generation -- a genocidal hate monger who mass murdered Jews and Gypsies and who condemned people of color as racially inferior?
We at the Simon Wiesenthal Center are outraged and disgusted by this public display at Thailand's leading school of higher education that has been on display for days nearby the University's Faculty of History building. We are outraged by those who created this travesty, by the young person posing in front of the mural using the Nazi salute and appalled by the apparent total silence of the University's elite.
We may be angered but not surprised. For young Thais have been snapping up Hitler T-shirts, donning SS helmets and applying Nazi tattoos. Meanwhile, no adults in the room stopped a Nazi fashion show at a fashion school and we are still awaiting an explanation from officials at a Catholic school in the city of Chang Mai as to who approved an entire grade of high school students parading down the main street of the city dressed up as Nazi stormtroopers, replete with mock guns and swastika appliques.
This past winter I brought the Wiesenthal Center's renowned Courage To Remember Holocaust exhibit (in English and Thai) to Bangkok's UN Hall, where I joined 500 community activists, students and diplomats to stand in solidarity with 6 million Jewish men, women and children murdered by Hitler's Nazi Third Reich.
As moving and impressive that ceremony was, it clearly isn't enough. And neither is the belated apology just released from the University after it finally had the mural removed. It is time for Thailand to begin to educate their young about the truth about Adolph Hitler and Nazism.
It was his rabid genocidal hatred that helped spawn and prolong the greatest catastrophe of humankind -- World War II and the Nazi Holocaust.
And before any more victims of the Nazis are mocked and any more damage is done to Thailand's reputation, they should also tell their young people that by embracing Nazi symbols, they further empower and embolden today's Neo-Nazis, who hate every single person of color.