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Justin Bieber and Anne Frank

A lithograph of Anne Frank by Marc Chagall.

A lithograph of Anne Frank by Marc Chagall.

Debate broke out in the AbeBooks marketing department this morning over whether the world is judging popstar Justin Bieber too harshly for his most recent gaffe.

On the off chance that you have managed to avoid the new thus far, here it is: the 19-year-old Bieber reportedly visited Anne Frank House in Amsterdam while touring. He apparently found the experience very moving, and sought to capture his feelings in the guestbook. His written comments therein included his feeling honored to be there, finding her courage inspiring, and – unfortunately – that he hoped that if Frank were alive today “she would have been a Belieber”. A Belieber is a nickname for a Justin Bieber fan. Why do I know this? I am 35. Perhaps because he is Canadian? I digress.

Social media unsurprisingly went berserk once the story was out, with some calling the remarks callous and ignorant, and indicative of proof that Bieber has a low IQ. Others rushed to the singer’s defense, pointing out that Anne Frank, despite the circumstances of her life and her death, was herself a typical young teen girl, and may very well in fact have been a fan, had she lived in the Bieber era.

Around here, the general overall feeling is one of embarrassment and pity for Bieber. He’s 19, and therefore, bound to use poor judgment and act rashly, and say things without thinking. But he is also a global sensation, and subject to intense constant scrutiny by those slavering to be first to report on his every slight misstep. Which is, of course, exactly what happened. I think the biggest goof here is that no older, wiser, more savvy adult, say a PR person, agent or handler, stepped in to review the wording and help Bieber craft a more suitable comment.

Even the representatives of Anne Frank House have issued a statement in Bieber’s defense, pointing out that a 19-year-old, world famous celebrity could have done anything with his time in Amsterdam on a Friday night, but chose to spend it learning about the Holocaust.

Anne Frank died of Typhus in a concentration camp at age 15. She had been in hiding from the Nazis with her family for two years before they were betrayed. The Diary of Anne Frank details much of the experience of those two years, and has given personal insight into the horrors of that time to readers worldwide.

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