UNC Textbook Claims Holocaust Victims Didn’t 'Tap Into' Their Inner 'Strength'

Caleb Tolin | August 1, 2018
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"21st Century Wellness: The Science of the Whole Individual" is a textbook students are required to purchase at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the Lifetime Fitness course every undergrad needs to complete prior to graduation.

And its insinuation that Holocaust victims are somehow to blame for their own oppression is starting to catch some eyes.

"Some of the stuff they said seemed almost like pseudoscience, and it kind of blurred the lines between what I recognized to be real factual information and things that may or may not be true. It put a lot of emphasis on the connection between mental and physical health, more than normal," Ryan Holmes, a student at UNC who took the class last fall, told CNN. "I thought that it was an oversimplification that didn't account for situational factors."

One of the passages that Holmes and other students were bothered by was about the inner "strength" Holocaust victims apparently failed to find.

"The people in the camps who did not tap into the strength that comes from their intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected," the book reads.

The book has also been criticized for calling terrible diseases like cancer a “choice.”

"Some experts have begun calling these diseases diseases of choice because how we choose to live, in large part, determines the risk of being diagnosed with disease like heart disease, cancer, dementia, and others," states another chapter.

Ron Hager, co-author with Barbara Lockhart and associate professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University, responded to some of these criticisms.

“One of the overriding purposes of our text is to encourage and empower individuals to take responsibility for their own good health through the everyday choices they make,” he told the News & Observer.

He continued, “We focus on helping individuals gain a perspective of inherent self-worth that can motivate them to make the best choices and optimize their potential for a healthy and long life (compression of morbidity) especially when combined with solid health related information supported by research.”

Despite the actual text of his textbook, Hager says the book doesn’t say that.

"I seriously doubt anyone would say they choose cancer or heart disease or type 2 diabetes, etc. But without question, choices can and do have consequences," he said.