If you’re a liberal Jewish voter, and tremendously excited about Obama’s candidacy as the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, slow down, Pardner. Jews have always assumed that, because they supported the civil rights movement with enthusiasm and hard work, there would be a quid pro quo by which blacks, recognizing Jews as fellow victims, would be equally supportive of Jewish issues. Jews have held to this viewpoint despite regularly occurring proof of the fact that African-Americans, perhaps resentful of having to share the “victim” limelight with the Jews, are not supportive of Jews or Jewish causes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Obama himself, a man who has aligned himself with anti-Semitic churches and causes his entire adult life. If you think this will change when he reaches the White House, I would suggest that you think again. And if you believe that Israel, a small island of democracy surrounded by hostile tyrannical nations should exist without anyone questioning her legitimacy, you may not want to vote for Obama. (Of course, if Israel’s security matters to you, you also might want to rethink any vote for Hillary, either — not just because she mouths the usual liberal pieties about a Palestinian state, but because she kissed Suha Arafat immediately after the latter spouted vicious antisemitic lies.)
I did a post yesterday in which I quoted from an interview with Michael Cappi regarding the fact that Islam, unlike Judaism or Christianity, is not a religion that concerns itself with broader moral issues that rise above mere tribal law. I’d actually made precisely the same point in an earlier post, here. In connection with this most recent post, however, I got the following comment, which I reprint here verbatim, and which I thought was absolutely fascinating:
this person became interested in islam for what ? to embrace it or to pick, and nick and misquate,and then on top pour all the filth on islam with the likes of Rushdie, Ali Sana,Ali Hersi etc the so called humanists who have nothing to offer but nothingness,while islam comes with the full package, and answers for all your problums and they can not stomach it.they know that islam has tasted rule and one who tastes it wants it at any cast,and these poor humanist and winging liberals will be the loosers. their ways and rules have every one in mess , the biggest problum man faces is , alcaholism,the answer is in islam,gambling, again the answer is in islam,pornography,and degrading of your sisters and mothers,the answer is islam,rape ,every year over 20000 your sisters are raped in Amercia just alone,you aply the islamic law and the rate will be 0.01%,while on the other hand the law of these human wishy woshers allow the rapest to get a few years in jail where he fed and made even stronger so when he gets out he goesand rapes the other sister. shame on you ,keep listening to these devils and you will loose your daughters wholesale. so come on people look at islam your self and avoid these wingers and scare mongers. (Emphasis mine.)
As you can see, the part that really intrigued me was the bit in the second half about rape, since it seemed to highlight the way in which both Islamists and the Left view people, and may go a long way to explaining why people professing these radically different ideologies (Leftism and Islamism) can work so well together. The fact is that, although they devise different (or no punishments) for whatever crime is before them, neither believes in free will or in man’s ability to make moral decisions independent of his immediate circumstances.
Let me start with Islam’s view of free will. Actually, considering that “Islam” means “submission,” I probably don’t have to do this discussion at all, since the name tends to be a giveaway about the religion’s approach to free will. Nevertheless, I’ll still give you my little analysis explaining why I think that Islam denies that man has a moral capacity that can override his animal instincts.
It’s obvious that Islam is misogynistic. What’s less obvious is its misanthropy. The blatant misogyny is, of course, known to all of you and tends to fall into the three categories: (1) the restrictions placed on and abuses against women’s bodies and their brains, (2) the horrible punishments enacted against them for deviating from Muslim norms, and (3) the honor killings that reflect their chattel status within a male dominated culture.
The misanthropy is less overt, but it actually lies behind all these horrors visited against Muslim women: In Islam, men are viewed as so weak and animal-like that they cannot be expected to resist women’s lures. That is, a man who sees a woman uncovered or unaccompanied cannot be expected to resist taking her sexually. He is helpless.
This view of men, as utterly unable to overcome their basic instincts is, to my mind, a pathetic view that denies the possibility of free will, moral calculation or strength of character. All men are animals, controlled by their lust, and all women are mere sexual objects who must be erased for men’s protection. The Sharia laws reflect this debased view of human kind in the its punishments are extreme and violent. They assume that men (and women) will be dissuaded from wrongful acts only if they are subject to death, dismemberment or whipping. The concept of redemptive punishment for crimes less than intentional murder — the type of punishment that sees you lose freedom, time and dignity, but that is not a brutal physical assault against you, and that holds out the possibility of starting fresh — is alien in this world view. In Islam, men cannot be trusted to make good decisions at the front end, nor can they be trusted to learn from bad experiences at the back end — only the most violent dissuasion will work against them.
Things on the Left aren’t much better, although the Left’s degraded view of mankind is a little bit less obvious. It starts with the Leftist principle that all people are controlled by their environment. If you’re poor; if you’re black; if you’re Hispanic; if you’re female; if you’re the victim of spousal, parental or sexual abuse; if you live in the Third World; if you’re in a former colony — all of these factors mean that, if your conduct is violent and antisocial, you get a pass. You cannot be held responsible for your actions.
The above paragraph is fairly abstract, so let me reduce it to more concrete terms. The view that environmental factors are so strong that people are incapable of exerting self-control or making moral choices appears most clearly in the way liberals view African Americans. My default example is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots. Although there was no doubt that he had tried to kill Denny, Williams was still acquitted.
In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Williams, a 20-year-old black man, was acquitted in October of most charges against him by a sympathetic jury.” I believe that, had Williams been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement and the verdict that preceded it would have been held up by the liberal establishment as disgusting, horrific and vile. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place. No one seemed concerned that a young man, a human being, had behaved like an animal, and no one seemed to expect better from him.
The next obvious example of this kind of liberal nihilism regarding man’s moral capacity is, of course, the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days of the hurricane, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist, was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.
Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the media was perfectly ready, with the best intentions in the world, to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly have begun reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)
Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports to the effect that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)
Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.
Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are economic/racial victims and are therefore incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other (read: white) races.
As I said, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to blacks, of course. It’s part of the whole Marxist/Freudian soup that hit mainstream America big time in the 1950s. West Side Story is a frivolous paradigm of both this belief system and of a moment in time when liberal American was still capable of taking a step back from, and laughing at, these Marxist belief systems about race, economics and class. Mr. Bookworm recently screened the movie for the kids and, watching it, I was struck, as always, by the utterly shallow thinking about race and economics that lies behind it. I’m not discounting the fact that there were racial tensions in all emerging immigrant neighborhoods, as there still are, but this musical makes very clear that the real issue lies with the doctrine that was to take over in America — it’s not the malfeasor’s fault, it’s our fault because he is poor.
As I said, West Side Story is an early example of this now pervasive thinking, so liberals were still able to recognize the problems it could create when it came to assigning blame for wrongdoing — as demonstrated by Stephen Sondheim’s patter song “Gee, Officer Krupke“:
Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!
DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.
ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.
DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!
A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!
A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!
ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!
A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!
BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!
DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.
A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.
BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.
The trouble is he stinks.
The trouble is he’s growing.
The trouble is he’s grown.
Krupke, we got troubles of our own!
Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
I’m no Sondheim fan, but that is a brilliant song that exposes all the excuses inherent in liberal thinking about crime and punishment. No one actually commits a crime, because no one exercises the “free will” that underlies the American system of crime, with its focus on malicious intent (as opposed to negligence). If if people cannot be held responsible for their crime, they certainly cannot be punished. Or at least, the actor cannot be punished.
As Dennis Prager has pointed out more than once, failing to punish the actor often means that it’s the innocent who suffer. What this means is that, in some ways, the Left is even worse than Islam. Both deny man free will and conscience, but Sharia law at least has the decency to punish the wrongdoing (although the moral balancing that sees a woman designated as the wrong-doer for being raped leaves something to be desired). The Left, however, which also gives man the moral weight of an animal is too softhearted to punish that wild animal, with the sad result that, as the murderous lion is allowed to walk free, the innocent lamb is often eaten.
So, we have two apparently antithetical doctrines that share a common thread in their belief that man is enslaved to his environment and his animal lusts, and is incapable of moral decision-making and self-control. That the responses are different — violent punishment versus no punishment at all — doesn’t subtract from the nihilistic core underlying both. Give me good old Judeo-Christian thought any day, which holds that man is a rational, moral creature who can control himself, who is capable of making moral decisions despite difficult situations, and who if he commits crimes short of the most heinous ones (intentional murder topping the list), should be punished in a way that is meaningful, but leaves the possibility of redemption.
Here you will find amazing film clips from almost one hundred years of 20th Century Jewish history, including images and testimony from Eichmann’s trial. It is a reminder that, while the Jews wanted Israel as an escape from bloodshed and tyranny, the Palestinians joyfully imagine their lands awash in a sea of blood.
Hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon
UPDATE: More on the blood Palestinians long to have on their hands. And if you click over to this last link, remember Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
The teddy bear scandal put Islam on the front pages again as a religion whose practitioners are so insecure that they cannot accept anything that they might perceive as critical or demeaning. As have most conservative bloggers, I’ve written periodically about Islam’s misogyny, its cultural insecurity, its intolerance, etc. I’ve quoted my cousin the prison chaplain, who says that Islam is a huge sell in prisons because it doesn’t demand of the converts any change in behaviors. Instead, it allows them to justify and continue with their original criminal behaviors on the ground that they are appropriate acts towards non-Muslims.
I’ve also slowly been coming to the conclusion that Islam is not a moral religion as we in the Judeo-Christian West understand religion-based morality. The Old Testament is both a history stretching back to prehistoric times (since most Biblical scholars believe, for example, that the Bible’s telling of Noah’s Ark is the last act in an oral history stretching back hundreds, if not thousands, of years), and it is also a book of moral precepts that dictate man’s behavior towards other men. There is no doubt that men in the Bible slipped from the path God set before them, there is no doubt that some of God’s commands were frightening and violent (so much so that we still struggle with them today), and there is no doubt that many since the Bible have used the Bible to justify base behavior, not best behavior. The same holds true for the New Testament. While Jesus’ message is overwhelmingly one of love and compassion, there was certainly enough in it for those who sought a militant, aggressive Christianity to use the New Testament as their guide.
Nevertheless, almost from the moment the Bible, both Old Testament and New, became fixed, Christians and Jews of good will have struggled to analyze the morally questionable parts of the Bible in light of the overwhelmingly moral parts. (See, for example, the link I gave in the preceding paragraph, as well as this link.) As we move further forward in time, both Jews and Christians try ever more to tone down the passages that, instead of stating abstract moral principles, insist upon certain now-antiquated aspects of tribal law (such as killing witches or gays).
It’s been different since the very beginning with the Koran. As I pointed out in this post, the nature of the man behind the Koran is very different from the nature of the men behind the Bible. Moses sought freedom for his people; Jesus sought salvation for man kind. And Mohammad — well, Mohammad sought converts and tribal control. The Koran also shows someone very, very sensitive to rejection. More significantly, contrary to the Bible, Mohammad’s personal feelings on a given subject did not end up merely as narrative, they ended up as controlling doctrine.
What I just said is very abstract, so let me make in more concrete by talking about one of the Koranic stories and wrapping up with Robert Spencer’s conclusion about the larger implications of that story.
The story, as retold in Spencer’s masterful The Truth About Muhammad, is that of the Nakhla raid, which took place when Muhammad felt he had enough military power to take on his old enemies the Quraysh (who were enemies because they would not convert to Islam). Preliminarily, in connection with the Quraysh, it’s worthwhile remembering that it was as to them that Muhammad announced that the women and children of enemy tribes were to be defined by their tribal status, not their youth or sex, making them fair game for slaughter. As Spencer says (p. 98) “[f]rom then on, innocent non-Muslim women and children could legitimately suffer the fate of male unbelievers.”
As for the Nakhla raid itself, Muhammad did not participate. Instead, he instructed a lieutenant to spy on the Quraysh. Once the lieutenant got within range of the Quraysh, however, and decided it would be a shame not to kill as many of them as possible, despite the fact that any slaughter would occur on the last day of a holy period during which there was not supposed to be any killing. So, the Muslims killed and robbed.
Once the slaughter was complete, the lieutenant and his band headed home with their booty, having specifically reserved a fifth part for Muhammad himself. Muhammad was at first upset, both because he had not ordered a killing during the sacred month and because other Quraysh were pointing out that Muhammad’s prophecies seemed mostly geared to justifying banditry. However, as Spencer explains, when confronted by this discomforts, “another helpful revelation came from Allah,” this time saying that the Quraysh were so offensive in God’s eyes, that this trumped the holy month. Having received this useful ex post facto revelation, Muhammad was free to take the booty reserved for him.
Spencer’s take on the subject (p. 99) wraps back around to the point I made at the beginning of this post:
This was a momentous incident, for it would set a pattern: good became identified with anything that redounded to the benefit of Muslims, and evil with anything that harmed them, without reference to any larger moral standard. Moral absolutes were swept aside in favor of the overarching principle of expediency.
I am not saying, incidentally, that there are not millions of Muslims who behave morally in the way that we, living in the Judeo-Christian faith, understand morality. Whether they pull that morality from the Koran, from Judeo-Christian influences, or from their innate goodness and humanity, I do not know. I just know that there are enormous numbers of good people out there. However, unlike other religions, Islam encourages behavior that both the Bible, and Bibilical scholars, have tried to quash. And unlike other religions, Islam seems to have fewer scholars trying to explain or defend those passages in the Koran that seem to demand or justify immoral, rather than moral behavior (if moral behavior is understood as demanding the highest and best from man, towards himself and towards others).
As to the bad behavior that seems to be an inherent part of Islam, I’d like to give the last words in this post to Ian O’Doherty, writing for an Irish paper. (H/t: RD.) After giving a laundry list of Muslim outrage which has morphed into outrageous behavior, O’Doherty states a declaration of independence for those of us classified as Islamophobes:
And, of course, anyone who writes about this [“this” being the laundry list to which I referred] is immediately accused of being Islamophobic and racist.
Well, I am Islamophobic in the sense that I’m phobic towards the notion of treating women as third-class citizens, flogging people and killing them for having an independent thought.
I’m phobic towards the idea of killing Theo Van Gogh because he made a movie they didn’t like. I’m phobic towards killing a Japanese translator because he worked on the Satanic Verses.
I’m also rather phobic to the notion that the Muslim world has the right to riot and kill each other because of a few unfunny cartoons in an obscure Danish publication.
As regards the spurious accusation of racism which is bandied about against anyone who criticises Islam, let me make this clear — you cannot change the colour of your skin. Pigmentation is irrelevant. But you can dislike someone’s superstition and in Islam’s case, even among other superstitions, they are particularly horrible.
No, my Muslim friend, it’s your religion and your Sharia law I am criticising. It has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. And you know what? In a free democracy we still have the right to say things like that.
San Francisco’s Mission District is, demographically, a primarily Hispanic district (about 50%), with the remainder of the population being White and Asian. Traditionally, it’s been a mixture of immigrants (legal and illegal), poor, working-class, and artsy-funky. It’s in the news today because the District used a $34,000 City-funded grant to paint a mural that shows joyful Palestinians overtaking Israel:
An emotional battle over a new mural in San Francisco’s Mission district that depicts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been squelched after the supporting organization had its funding stalled and agreed to alter the controversial image.
At issue is a large mural in a parking lot on the corner of 24th and Capp streets, designed by local artist Eric Norberg and painted during the summer by more than 200 Mission district community members with an overall theme of breaking down physical and social walls.
One panel of the 117-foot wide and 10-foot tall mural, depicting Palestinians breaking through a crack in the Israeli security barrier, angered members of San Francisco’s Jewish community who said the image only portrays one side of the centuries-old conflict. The crack in the barrier is also shaped like Israel, and one Palestinian busting through wears a headscarf covering her face.
“The imagery took a radical position on a complex geopolitical issue that was out of touch with the international community, San Francisco and the overwhelming majority of Jews,” said Abby Michelson Porth, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which raised the issue.
Frankly, this is the standard stuff one expects to come out of San Francisco and, while I’m disgusted, I’m too worn about this chronic bias to be incensed.
Something about this story, though, did pique my interest, because it’s a new twist on the whole pro-Palestinian view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Apparently creating a pro-Palestinian mural is a “community building” activity in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood:
HOMEY, the organization that received a city grant to create two murals, said the mural was meant to unite the Mission district.
On its face, that it is an appalling statement — you unite a Hispanic neighborhood by showing approvingly a group of people bent on genocide (that would be the Palestinians, who are never coy about their ultimate goal) overrunning the nation that they intend to exterminate (Israel, of course).
But just so you’re really clear about HOMEY’s goal — and just so you understand that it is a Leftist group aimed at dethroning the two countries that are the most frequent targets of Leftist animus — the HOMEY representative keeps on talking:
“Our intention was to draw parallels between the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier,” said Nancy Hernandez, youth program coordinator at HOMEY. “We consider this section … to be a statement of solidarity between the residents of the San Francisco Mission district and global movements for oppressed peoples to gain self-determination.”
And that’s why the Left supports the Palestinians. It has nothing to do with history, morality, international law, decency, saving lives, preventing genocide, etc. Instead, just part of the ever-popular Leftist scenario in which anyone who feels, however justifiably or not, “oppressed” Israel or America, is your brother in arms. It’s the old class war, updated, and it goes a long way to explain the chronic immorality of these fellow travelers, who will support any regime or political group, no matter how grotesque, if that regime or group announces that it is the enemy of the United States and Israel.
And I just have to ask again, as I’ve asked for many years now, how can American Jews justify their apparently mindless decision to cling to the Lefter side of the political spectrum?
A reader sent me a truly excellent article by Alan Caruba, writing at Canada Free Press, that tackles the resurgence of an obsession with Jews as “the other,” bent in some unnamable way on world domination or destruction:
With the advent of the two most holy days of the Jewish lunar calendar, Rosh Hashanah, the “New Year”, followed in ten days by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s a good time to visit the subject of why Jews are universally the subject of hatred and fear.
A recent issue of The Economist had an article titled “Taming Leviathan” that purported to say the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) wielded such power politically in Washington that it lives “up to their critic’s darkest fears.”
Do these “darkest fears” merely reflect the growing anti-Semitism in Great Britain where the editorial offices of the magazine are located? Or are these the same dark fears that 300 million Arabs in 22 nations have of six million Israeli Jews because they have the temerity to want to live in a land their ancestors called home more than three millennia ago?
The world’s obsession with this minority, reduced by six million in Europe in the last century’s Nazi genocide, defies any rational explanation and is buried deep in the collective psyche of other religions.
Read the rest here. Incidentally, the “other religions” to which Caruba refers boil down to one: Islam.
My friend Patrick, who blogs at The Paragraph Farmer, tackles a very difficult question in today’s American Spectator: Why, in a world that daily reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man, does the Holocaust still stands as the ne plus ultra of the human ability to kill? It’s a thoughtful article, and one I urge you to read. In addition to the points Patrick made, I want to add a few things that make the Holocaust unique amongst the atrocities man has always been capable of visiting against his fellow man. In no particular order:
1. Culture. One of the things that made the Holocaust particularly horrible was the culture from which it sprang. In the annals of Western Civilization, Germany had ascended to the highest peak: it’s art, literature, music and science were the envy of the world. That this culture, this culture of all cultures, could do what it did spells out something particularly horrible about the human capacity for evil. We expect “less civilized” cultures to commit atrocities because we can then distance ourselves from those acts. When a culture to which we compare ourselves or to which we aspire commits those same atrocities, it reminds us that none of us are safe from the evil that lurks within us.
2. Science and method. Consistent with it’s sophisticated culture, the Germans engaged in murder with a single minded scientific fervor that’s never been equaled. Other cultures engage in mass slaughter in a blunt, almost animalistic way, crudely starving or executing those under their aegis (I’m thinking Communists here, both Soviet and Asian, or the machetes of the Hutus). The Germans, however, engaged in mass death scientifically, working their way through a variety of methods until they found the most efficient way to kill the most people — and then carefully, scientifically recorded their work with detailed records, including the names of most of their victims. They also enshrined their “scientific” progress with boastful photographs. Those same photos reveal another side of the Holocaust, which is that the Germans reveled in killing. While the Communists as part of their grand socialization plans managed to starve millions and millions of people in Russia, China and Cambodia, they didn’t have people gleefully skinning their victims to make lamp shades, or subjecting them to gruesome scientific experiences as part of the “fun of it all.”
3. Geography. Patrick makes a point about localization, namely that the German nation was one killer, and it’s easy to identify and blame one killer, while Communism, an ideology, kills all over. This is a good point, but I think there’s a different localization point to be made, and that is the fact that Germans went beyond their locality, not in pursuit of a political ideology, a la the Communists, put in pursuit of their genocidal killing strategy. All other mass murders have been aimed at people within the killing culture. Hutus killed their resident Tutsis, Turks their resident Armenians, Serbs their resident Bosnians, Light skinned Muslim Sudanese their resident Christians and dark skinned Muslims, Communists of whatever nation killed “state enemies” within their own borders, and so on and so on. Only the Nazis went on an actual hunt for their victims, trolling through country after country to gather and destroy them. This too makes the Nazis different from any other mass murderers in world history.
4. Deniability or the lack thereof. Most other mass murderers engage in the “deny, deny, deny” approach to mass murder. As I noted above, the Germans were incredibly proud of what they were doing, and carefully documented everything. The insanity of the Holocaust deniers aside, there is too much evidence for there ever to be plausible deniability.
5. The nature of the victims. The Jews are the people of the Book. They are verbal people. In other, non-literate or less literate cultures, the stories of the horrors visited on them quickly devolve into little more than an oral myth, that has no traction. Jews, by talking, by writing books, etc., keep the story alive.
6. There were witnesses. As Patrick pointed out, the hardened Patton was vomiting with the horror of what he saw. Americans walked into those camps and came out telling the stories. Communist victims just vanished within the maw of communist countries. Today, in Africa, while reporters and NGOs may venture in, there is no big war, that ends with a big discovery. Those poor dead just dribble way, vanishing into the soil beneath them.
7. Israel. Unlike other survivors of mass slaughter who eventually merge into other cultures, taking their memories with them, the Jews have Israel. Israel, of course, was a community long before the war, but it came into being as a nation in part because of the world’s response to the Holocaust. I have long thought that Europe’s burgeoning anti-Israeli sentiment has its roots in the fact that Israel is a living reproach to Europe, and the Europeans feel better about themselves if they can denigrate Israel: “See, the Jews are no better than we are.” With this psychological need to make themselves feel better, it doesn’t matter to them that the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, a very complex situation indeed, is entirely different from that of Jews on the receiving end of the Nazis single-minded focus on mass race slaughter.
8. Guilt. Past genocides mostly took place at times when, sadly, the world hadn’t yet developed the moral capacity to care. For example, the killing and marginalization of the Native Americans occurred during a time when the whole Western World didn’t have much of a problem with taking land from indigenous people or “killing them before they kill us.” Likewise, slavery, that other famous form of Western, and especially American, oppression, had been a fixture in the world since time immemorial. Indeed, there is still slavery all over the Muslim world. Also, Americans engaged in that mass act of self-sacrifice known as the Civil War in part to purge themselves of slavery. In this they differed from the Nazis who did not use War to purify themselves of a moral evil but, instead, used war to embrace that evil. And the sad fact is that the morally developed Western World knew what was going on: It knew in 1933 when Hitler started enacting the race laws. It knew in 1938 with Kristallnacht. It knew when panicked Jews began banging on Western doors begging for escape. It knew when reports started circulating (only to be quashed by the Times), that in all countries the Nazis entered, Jews were being slaughtered in situ, or being rounded up and transported to death camps. The world knew and it closed its eyes and plugged its ears. There are still people living who knew what was going on or who should have known, and who did nothing. They are a reminder to us of the power of passivity, not for good but for evil.
9. Jews a perpetual victims. This is a point Patrick made in his article, but I think it deserves repeating here. The Holocaust hits us in the face because, at the time, it seemed to be the culmination of centuries of persecution. Even as Western Christians finally seemed to be shaking off the yoke of anti-Semitism, the Russians began engaging in it wholeheartedly, not so much as a religious imperative but more as a cultural imperative. That too seemed to be dying away (thanks, in significant part, to the safety valve of America), only to have the Holocaust come along, bringing anti-Semitism to a ferocious height no one in the past could have imagined. That should have been the end of it all, but it isn’t. The Arab world, which enthusiastically supported Hitler, is making the same noises again that Hitler did then, is killing people because they are Jews, and is talking about annihilation, just as Hitler talked and then attempted. The Holocaust won’t go away because very evil people keep making sure it sticks around.
Those are my nine ideas about the Holocaust’s preeminence, despite the fact that both the 20th and (so far) the 21st Century have seen other, and even bigger, acts of mass slaughter. If you have anything to add, please do so. I know that you, my readers, will keep any comments on this sensitive subject polite and thoughtful.