Kevin Shi, 14, of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, Calif., chose an opinion piece by columnist Nicholas Kristof titled “A Woman’s Journey Through Chinese Atrocities” and wrote:
During the last few months of this school year, my history teacher told my class the story of WWII. It was both fascinating and terrible. No part touched me more than the horror of the Holocaust. My teacher compared it to the current oppression of Uyghur Muslims in my homeland, China, which the United States has declared genocide. I was initially reluctant to use this label because my understanding of the genocide was defined by mass killings, as in the Holocaust.
My perspective changed once I read an article detailing the experiences of a Uyghur woman. While “Nancy” is safe, her relatives have been imprisoned, extorted, beaten to paralysis. One even died. This is all part of a campaign by the Chinese government to “end the rule of the Uyghurs”. The Uyghur genocide is eerily similar to the early stages of the Holocaust. It helped me recognize that genocide should really be seen as a process, not just a tragic end.
My newfound understanding made me reassess what I learned about American history. The US government’s treatment of indigenous peoples seemed the same in intent, if not in method, as China’s treatment of Uyghurs. Yet when it was mentioned at school, teachers seemed to paint it in a positive light, saying it was necessary for the formation of the United States. I wonder if the Uyghur genocide would not be portrayed the same way to a student in China.
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