View Full Version : holocaust, what holocaust?

02-18-2003, 10:12 PM
good thing im not living in britain


02-18-2003, 10:55 PM
Scary stuff.

Europe is worse than the USA in this regard, I suspect, but those in this country who believe that "hate crime" laws are a good thing, or that enforcing PC standards is good, should realize that taking away freedom of thought or freedom of expression is essentially fascist doctrine--no matter how "good" a cause one thinks it might be for.

02-19-2003, 01:15 PM
"taking away freedom of thought or freedom of expression is essentially fascist doctrine"

This is a very important point. When my dad was active in the ADL, he invited me to an ADL dinner. At your seat, was an ADL publication, highlighting their achievements from the previous year. The first thing they listed was having the book "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" removed from several libraries.

Is this was we should be doing, removing books from libraries? I don't think so. Let's educate people to tell them The Protocols of The Elders of Zion is an antisemitic diatribe, but let's make an effort to keep it in libraries, not to ban it.

Likewise, let's take pains to expose the lies of the holocaust deniers, not to deny their right to free speech.

02-19-2003, 04:43 PM
ive heard that in the uk, use of the word 'homosexual', irrespetive of context, is considered hate speech. (on the radio, so no link, bummer)

one has to wonder whether 'heterosexual' is a forbidden word too. (i mean it should be if homosexual is, right?)

02-19-2003, 07:09 PM
I agree with you as a philosophical matter - however, people are idiots. You leave things like the Protocols lying around and unless you preface the book with some sensible commentary, there are bound to be morons who read it and believe what's inside (or non-morons who use the contents for their purposes). I'm not sure what the solution to this is or if the value of the freedoms mentioned above override the dangers associated with allowing their continued publication and dissemination.

John Cole
02-19-2003, 08:17 PM

I agree completely, but I also find many web sites, for example, zundelsite.org, which claim objectivity and promote "scientific research," amazingly efficient at fooling unsophisticated readers.

For another point of view on Holocaust deniers, see John Sack's essay in Best American Essays 2002; it's terrific reading.

Last, I'm not sure that "hate crime" really means a limiting of freedom of speech. My impression is that those people convicted of hate crimes can be judged more harshly because hate plays a role in their criminal activity. For me, anyway, defacing a public building with graffiti is a lesser crime than defacing a synogogue or private home with anti-semitic messages. I don't, however, know how these laws work, and I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knows more about this.


nicky g
02-19-2003, 10:04 PM
"ive heard that in the uk, use of the word 'homosexual', irrespetive of context, is considered hate speech. "

I've never heard that, having lived here for 6 years and been immersed in British culture all my life. I think gay groups are wary of the term and prefer the term gay, but I've never heard homosexual being described as hate speech and it's used frequently. I agree though with the basic point that the UK and Europe are too quick to ban things rather than show their inherent stupidity. You can see how the Germans for example are inclined to such a position following the Nazi period, and I'm sympathetic to arguments that neo-Nazis and so forth ultimately depend on violence to back up their ideas and shouldn't be allowed a platform, though I largely disagree. From what I hear where I work (a freedom of speech campaign group), the situation in US libraries regarding books being removed etc is getting pretty dire.

02-19-2003, 11:45 PM
I feel the same way about the Wall Street Journal, but there's no question in my mind that the value of the freedoms we enjoy far outweighs the dangers of either the Protocols or the Journal.

02-20-2003, 12:04 AM
"amazingly efficient at fooling unsophisticated readers."

"Unsophisticated" is what freedom is all about. There will always be holocaust deniers and flat earthers and just about anything can be given a veneer of "sophistication" and fool most of the people most of the time. Read through any speech by any political leader. Here's something I came across recently written by Michael S. Berliner:

Prior to 1492, what is now the United States was sparsely inhabited, unused, and undeveloped. The inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers, wandering across the land, living from hand to mouth and from day to day. There was virtually no change, no growth for thousands of years. With rare exception, life was nasty, brutish, and short: there was no wheel, no written language, no division of labor, little agriculture and scant permanent settlement; but there were endless, bloody wars. Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.
Columbus should be honored, for in so doing, we honor Western civilization. But the critics do not want to bestow such honor, because their real goal is to denigrate the values of Western civilization and to glorify the primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism embodied in the tribal cultures of American Indians. They decry the glorification of the West as "cultural imperialism" and "Eurocentrism." We should, they claim, replace our reverence for Western civilization with multiculturalism, which regards all cultures (including vicious tyrannies) as morally equal. In fact, they aren't. Some cultures are better than others: a free society is better than slavery; reason is better than brute force as a way to deal with other men; productivity is better than stagnation. In fact, Western civilization stands for man at his best. It stands for the values that make human life possible: reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, productive achievement. The values of Western civilization are values for all men; they cut across gender, ethnicity, and geography. We should honor Western civilization not for the ethnocentric reason that some of us happen to have European ancestors but because it is the objectively superior culture."

Every sentence in the first paragraph is an out-and-out lies. The philosophy which follows is basically what I was taught in grammar school. We were all "unsophisticated" then.

I find racism sickening. I would also be more distressed by anti-semitic defacing on a synagogue than by, say, anti-capitalistic graffiti on a corporate headquarters, or anti-American graffiti on a government building. But thoughts should not be punished. What someone writes should not determine how severely one should be punished if one has broken the law.

John Cole
02-20-2003, 07:59 AM

Nice quote; lately I've been reading, for some strange reason, the selected essays of Carl Sauer, and enjoying how a geographer looks at civilization. Over the semester break, I also read Lies My Teacher Told Me, which looks at how *we* were taught history.

I'm not sure, though, if thoughts are being punished in the prosecution of hate crimes. What is the difference between looking at the motivation for a hate crime and looking at the motivation for killing someone and distinguishing among manslaughter, 1st, and 2nd degree murder. I might wish to kill you right now, but if I utter that *thought*--"I'm going to kill you"--I have committed a crime. Again, I'm trying to grapple with the distinction.


02-20-2003, 01:29 PM
I thought of the 1st and 2nd degree/manslaughter argument myself while typing my previous post. My answer is that there shouldn't be any difference in punishment whether a murder was a crime of passion, whether one lay in waiting, whether one planned or didn't plan the murder. The victim is just as dead either way.

I loved Carl Sauer. I read everything I can get my hands on about Christopher Columbus and Sauer's The Early Spanish Main is terrific. It was reprinted not that long ago, I believe it's still available.

John Cole
02-20-2003, 03:38 PM

You must read Paul Metcalf's Genoa: A Telling of Wonders. It's one of the finest American novels ever written (and one of the most neglected). Metcalf, the great-grandson of Herman Melville, weaves together a narrative that draws on Melville's writings, Columbus, a story about a brother trying to understand his brother, and various other works, including medical texts. For a brief sample of Metcalf's work, here's a link to his "poem" about Willie Mays.