A Voice to the Voiceless

Craig Smith, an interdisciplinary humanities major, discusses his experience in the Shoah class taught by Ilona Klein and how it inspired him to get involved in his community.  

PROVO, Utah (Jan. 19, 2017)—“‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference,’” said Craig Smith, quoting Elie Wiesel. “We need to understand that an estimated six million Jews didn’t die because the Nazi regime did not like them. Six million Jews died because no one did anything about it.”

Smith is an interdisciplinary humanities major and nonprofit management minor. He is also the teaching assistant for a class on the Shoah this semester, taught by associate professor Ilona Klein of the French and Italian Department.

The Shoah, also known as the Holocaust, led to the deaths of over six million Jews ranging from Russia to southern Europe. “Shoah is more correct terminology. Holocaust is a Greek term means ‘burnt offering’ while Shoah is Hebrew and signifies ‘burnt without purpose,’” said Smith.  

“A theme of the class is giving a voice to the voiceless,” commented Smith. “An outcome of the class is for students to understand what made [the Holocaust] possible and understanding the dangers of indifference.”

In the class students read several first-hand accounts of torture, death and fear caused by the Nazi regime – studying words that were left behind by those who experienced those horrors. They also study the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and the cultural climate that made the attempted genocide possible, as well as the scope of the Holocaust in general.

When Smith took the class previously, it took a strong emotional toll on him. “I went through a grieving process. When I learned about all the violence that happened I kind of had to,” explained Smith. “Once I got out of it, though, it was a completely new awakening to me. I decided I had to start doing things in my community.”

Learning about the Shoah is what inspired Smith to become involved in the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, or U.C.A.P. “It isn’t good enough to see that there is a problem, you need to actively be engaged and doing something about it, no matter what,” Smith said. “The Shoah happened because of indifference. [Pornography] is a problem going on now. What are we doing about it?”

Smith sees the problems of pornography as an area of intense shame in users and a destructive influence in the lives of men, women and children. He is currently an officer with an anti-pornography group known as Reach 10, which hopes to provide workshops and guidance for families concerning how to have positive discussions about pornography habits and healthy sexuality.

“I think inherently there is a great deal of shame surrounding pornography, but we are scared to bring it up. People in relationships – parents to children, wife to husband – want to talk about it and they don’t know how.” Smith remarked. “Johann Hari saidThe opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is human connection.’ The pornography industry creates so much shame that people feel completely isolated. They don’t feel like they’re able to get help and speak out about it.”

Smith continued, “Especially women with pornography habits feel so much more isolated because it is viewed as a male problem. People feel uncomfortable talking about it and it’s a hard issue; but ignoring it is only going to fuel the problem.”

Hannah Sandorf Davis (B.A. Art History and Curatorial Studies ’17)

Hannah covers events for the French and Italian Department for the College of Humanities. She is a senior pursuing a degree in art history with a minor in art.

Photo Contributed by Craig Smith