The Dallas Holocaust Museum sold Upstander t-shirts to counter the hate message of protesters Friday

I wish I could sign up for one of Casey Boland’s AP social studies classes at LHHS. She engages her students with current events and animated discussions that draw in even the kids “too cool for school.”

Casey alerted me Friday about the protests planned against the Dallas Holocaust Museum downtown, and the Jewish Community Center & Yavneh Academy, located just across Central Expressway from Lake Highlands. Protesters were imports from Westboro Baptist Church, an independent outfit based in Kansas. Their picket signs, held by elementary-age children, said “Your Rabbi is a whore,” “Jesus hates Jews,” and other printed slogans too upsetting for my fingers to type.

Casey got word of the planned protests from Alice Murray, president of the museum. The targets of the hate group agreed to discourage all visible counter-demonstrations, Murray said, instead of encouraging their followers to show up en masse with opposing signs and messages. “We do not want to legitimize the hatred of a small number of people who compromise this group by inadvertently providing fodder for media coverage.” 

Instead, the museum offered free admission Friday and called in their dedicated docents to discuss the exhibit and their message of tolerance with visitors willing to listen. They also sold “Upstander” t-shirts and bracelets (shown in the photos). Their focus was to “counter hatred by celebrating the Museum and its mission – to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference for the benefit of all humanity.”

If you haven’t visited the museum, you’re missing a moving multimedia experience, complete with artifacts and photos shared by Dallas-area families whose members endured Nazi concentration camps all over Europe. Survivors who immigrated to Dallas after the war brought with them wedding photos taken in the Jewish ghettos, yellow “Jude” stars they were forced to wear, tools they used to install barbed wire on the roofs of boxcars so prisoners wouldn’t escape, and many more fascinating treasures. Don’t miss it. The museum is on the ground floor of 211 Record Street (upstairs you’ll find LH’s own Raymond Harris, father of four LHHS grads, whose architecture firm is housed above the museum.)

Oh, and lest you think Jews were the only targets of Westboro, the so-called church made time to harass Resource Center Dallas while they were in town, too. You can read the Dallas Morning News story here for details of RCD’s ingenious response – they requested donations for an ice machine they’ll use to prepare meals for folks with HIV. “We’ve asked people to donate 50 cents or a dollar for every minute of scheduled protest time,” said an RCD rep. “We’ve raised about $1,400 so far.”