Justin Bieber spent an hour visiting the home of Anne Frank before his concert in Arnhem near Amsterdam, Netherlands. That's all well and good. But then the tween heartthrob left a message in the guest book which the Anne Frank House posted on its Facebook page.
The post read: "Yesterday night Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House, together with his friends and guards. Fans were waiting outside to see a glimpse of him. He stayed more than an hour in the museum. In our guestbook he wrote: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber."
"Belieber" is the term used to describe a fan of Justin Bieber and his music. Not everyone has a positive view of the singing sensation after reading his post. Comments on the site and from around the world criticized Bieber as being selfish, obnoxious, immature and/or completely clueless.
One of my favorite comments on the Anne Frank House Facebook page came from Henry Neff: "In 2 years, he'll be a punchline; in 10 years a 'Oh yeah...I remember him' In 20 years, he will be forgotten. In 200 years, people will still be admiring Anne Frank's courage and spirit."
Those who defended Bieber pointed to the Anne Frank quote, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."
Annemarie Bekker, spokeswoman for The Anne Frank House, was quoted by ABC News as graciously saying, Bieber “a fan of Anne and maybe Anne would have been a fan of his. We think he meant it well. He’s only 19 years old and living in a crazy world … with all girls being fans of him worldwide. Maybe that is also why he wrote it down."
To me, Bieber's statement illustrates two things:
1. Tweens, teens and the occasional grown-up can sometimes be self-centered, and need to be reminded of what is truly significant in the world (and no, that is not their number of personal fans). Take this opportunity to talk with your tween about fame and its impact on people and their perception of the world.
2. Reading The Diary of Anne Frank can fix #1. Older tweens are at an age where they can and should read The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank was 13 years old in 1942 when her family went into hiding in the attic of the house that Bieber visited. She kept her diary from that point until Aug. 4, 1944, when Frank, her family and those staying with them were betrayed and the Nazis arrested them. Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The insight, wisdom and hopefulness she shares despite the horror and tragedy surrounding her are inspiring, and Bieber's comment make me think he may have missed the point of visiting her home.
This reader's guide from The Anne Frank Center USA has questions to get parents, tweens and everyone else thinking and talking about this powerful, amazing book that is far more relevant and important than Justin Bieber will ever be.
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