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February 06, 2004

Running headlong through the minefield

The debate over the "moral uniqueness" of the Holocaust has produced several well-written arguments, which can be found here and here and here and here. In reading all these posts, I found a wealth of new information.

However, I remain mystified by the charge of Ms. Yourish and others that merely pointing out the fact that millions of others have died in equally horrific genocides is somehow "Holocaust denial", and by extension, antisemitic. Perhaps I'm just not "getting it". Perhaps I'm reading too much into their statements.

Although it appears that all participants want to drop the issue for now, I would like to address some points that were made about me.

Ms. Yourish protests that I have misquoted her and Lynn. It appears she is denying that they implied Clayton Cramer and Sasha Volokh are Holocaust deniers, and by extension, antisemites, because they refuse to accept the "moral uniqueness" of the Holocaust. But let's look at a quote from Lynn's original post:

"I've included the entire quote because I wouldn't want to be accused of taking Mr. Cramer out of context. Like others who make similar statements while loudly proclaiming their utter lack of antisemitic intent, Cramer surrounds his assertions of disproportionate Jewish control of the media with assurances that he stands firmly opposed to genocide as a matter of general principle. Well, good for him." (emphasis added)

Sounds to me like she is likening Mr. Cramer to antisemites. In another paragraph she writes:

"But one of the most subtle and insidious forms of Holocaust denial is the transmutation of the word "Holocaust" into a non-specific, generalized term that simply refers to the program of mass-murder perpetrated by Hitler's regime during the Second World War, of which Jews were only a part, albeit a substantial part. Sounds good. Sounds fair, non-partisan. Sounds like alternate reality."

And it sure sounds like she is likening their views to Holocaust denial, which in its extreme form, is a sign of antisemitism.

Meryl, for sure, didn't come out and say they were antisemitic. But in her angry response to both she quotes Lynn regarding Holocaust denial. And the fact that she no longer wants to "waste words" on them demonstrates she views their opinions on the Holocaust with contempt. I think most unbiased readers would interpret that as an implication of antisemitism on the part of Messrs. Cramer and Volokh.

Ironically, Meryl seems to indulge in a bit of "holocaust denial" when it comes to the Gypsies:

"Yes, the Gypsies were targeted too -- after the Jews. Two years after the Nuremberg Laws against Jews were enacted, they were amended to include the Gypsies. And while I acknowledge the tragedy of the Roma, I'm wracking my brain, and failing to find an online source, for a single line about Gypsies from one of Hitler's speeches. Feel free to email me a source if you can find one." (emphasis added)

Now, let's consider that statement. Let's say you are a descendant of a Gypsy victim of the Holocaust. How would you feel if you heard a Jew say "Pity about your ancestors, but you know it wasn't as 'morally unique' as what happened to us, because Hitler never mentioned you specifically in his speeches"? Wouldn't that make you mad as hell? Isn't that somehow "lessening" the reality of what Hitler did to the Gypsies? Isn't that a form of anti-Gypsy bigotry?

Perhaps the reason why Sasha Volokh isn't "into" the moral uniqueness of the Holocaust is because, deep down inside, he resents the way it minimizes the deaths of millions of his fellow Russians at the hands of the Communists and the Nazis.

(Note: I have no special insight into the views of Mr. Volokh. I'm just speculating, based on how I might feel).

Look, I hold no grudge against either Meryl or Lynn. I actually enjoy reading their blogs, and plan on continuning to do so, even though I disagree with their exclusive and absolutist view of the Holocaust.

But I'm not going to apologize, either. It is not antisemitic to note that there have been other, equally bloody genocides besides the Holocaust throughout human history. It is not "holocaust denial" to say that many other ethnic groups, not just Jews, were systematically massacred by the Germans. It is not a sign of bigotry to simply disagree with Jewish people about the minor details of the Shoah, or to observe that there are Jews in charge of many Hollywood studios.

Pointing out historical facts is not antisemitism.

Posted by Captain Holly at February 6, 2004 04:32 PM | TrackBack
Bingo! You said it yourself. It is not "holocaust denial" to say that many other groups where systematically exterminated by the Nazis. The only reason that we can quantify the Holocaust is that the Nazis kept track of how many Jews they killed. We have no idea of who many Russians, Gypsys, Poles, etc., the Nazis killed since they didn't keep track. Remember, as I said before, the Nazis didn't give out medals for killing Russians or Gypsies, only for Jews. Posted by: El-ahrairah at February 7, 2004 12:33 AM
Which begs the question: Is it "more" evil to provide incentives for killing Jews, or to not provide incentives for killing Russians and Gypsies because they're considered no better than vermin? Posted by: Captain Holly at February 8, 2004 01:47 PM
Holly, the reason I stopped debating with Sasha is because he made it plain in his response that his position was immutable. I don't break my head against brick walls. That's what I meant by any further response would be a waste of words. The reason I will stop debating you is because you are misquoting, misreading, and now making accusations about things I said that I have not said. I called no one an anti-Semite, least of all Sasha. He's Jewish. I asked no one for an apology. And I did not minimize the destruction of the Gypsies. I'd like a clarification on what you mean by "to observe that there are Jews in charge of many Hollywood studios." I don't recall discussing that at all. Posted by: Meryl Yourish at February 9, 2004 04:31 PM
I guess I just don't get it. My interpretation of yours and Lynn's posts about Clayton and Sasha was that they were engaging in a "soft" form of holocaust denial, and that, by implication, is a "soft" form of antisemitism (those were my impressions from reading your posts, not direct quotes of what you or Lynn said). This debate confirms one of my internet axioms: The more emotional and controversial the subject, the better chance there is for misunderstanding. Posted by: Captain Holly at February 10, 2004 10:53 AM
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