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Op-Ed: Justin Bieber, Anne Frank and the BBC

It isn't that Anne Frank should have or could have been a Belieber - but rather, that Bieber should try to become a follower of Anne Frank.
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:12 AM


BBC's World Have Your Say program has asked me to react about Justin Bieber at the Anne Frank House. Do I want to be quoted speaking about Justin Bieber?The answer, actually, is no. I don't really want to speak to BBC's World Have Your Say program (oh, sorry, programme).

What happened is Justin Bieber went to Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam and then, after reportedly spending an hour there, signed the guest book with the following, "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber." (For those of you, like me, who didn't know - Belieber is apparently what he calls his fans.)

Although I'm only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Since he wrote that, he's been slammed in the Israeli press. I've seen him being called a moron; I certainly think it was, if nothing else, incredibly insensitive.

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

One person wrote to me on Twitter that he thought it was a good thing - that what Justin Bieber was saying is that Anne Frank was just a regular person and had she been alive today, she would likely be swooning over his charms as so many other teenage girls do. No, wait, that still sounds very conceited, doesn't it?

Well, anyway you cut it - if in the best of circumstances, Bieber was really just trying to help others understand the universality of Anne Frank as opposed to distancing themselves from her memory, I have to say he failed miserably.

Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

To be honest, it seems there are many who have accused him of not being very bright and this latest incident would certainly add credibility to that conclusion.

No, I don't want to speak to BBC about this. I have nothing to tell them. I'm not a Justin Bieber expert or fan. If I could talk to him personally, I would - I would tell him that Anne Frank was, even for her age - perhaps especially for her age, a most incredible person.

Not because of what was done to her - she was one of over 1 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis, many in as bad or much worse circumstances.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

But if you read her diary...and not just visit her house for an hour, you'll read of a young woman on the edge of adulthood trying desperately to cope, to hold on to the belief that man is essentially good, that there is hope and will always be hope, so long as there is life.

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

I hope that Justin Bieber is made to realize that his words were insensitive. It isn't that Anne Frank should have or could have been a Belieber - but rather, that he should become a follower of Anne Frank.

We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

She was unselfish; she lacked conceit.

Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

She cared about others and wanted so desperately to have the chance to grow up and experience the world.

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

What would I say to BBC - nothing. I would rather let Anne Frank speak for herself - to Justin Bieber, and to the BBC.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Justin Bieber - you have been given a chance that Anne Frank never got. She never reached the age you are now. Read her diary and if you've already read it - read it again. Become a follower of Anne Frank and take her wisdom into your life. No, she would not have been a Belieber - but you still have time to become, as I am, someone who cherishes the message a child would have given the world, if it would but listen.

I know that BBC World wants to hear people speak about the outrage - wouldn't it be amazing if they would read and learn from Anne Frank too?

I'm honest and tell people right to their faces what I think, even when it's not very flattering. I want to be honest; I think it gets you further and also makes you feel better about yourself. ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl