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Persecutions



     The Holocaust question has elicited a variety of responses. Lynn Nelson writes:
     "Claims that the Holocaust is a unique phenomenon leads to a distortion of history. Rick Geddes asks "Why are there Holocaust memorials in many cities (as there ought to be), but not a single memorial, that I am aware of, to the victims of Stalin, Mao, and all the other Communist regimes?" For the same reason, I would suppose, that there are no monuments, or very few at best, to the Ugandan Christians of the 1970's, the Nanking Chinese of 1937, the Armenian dead of 1915, and so on to the beginning of recorded time. Because no one took the time or made the effort to bear witness to their deaths. What makes the Holocaust different, and irritating to many, is that Jews insist on bearing witness to their dead and seem intent on continuing to do so. Why should the Jews be expected to memorialize the Ukranian dead, or the Polish, Romany, or Crimean dead. Shouldn't that be the task - or even the honor - of the surviving Poles, Gypsies, and Tatars?
     One should not question the presence of so many Holocaust memorials, but ponder why so many people are willing to forget about their own dead."


     My comment: A good question. They don't forget them. It may be that some groups lack organization and money. One might also ask if it is a good idea to continually bring up past atrocities. Certainly they should be recorded in history and remembered, but not used against the present generation or distorted. Young Germans protest that they had nothing to do with the Holocaust and resent its being constantly remembered in ceremonies. They also resent loose charges of anti-Semitism. As a Hispanist, I remember the Inquisition's trials of judaizantes, often distinguished Christians who were accused of giving a Jewish interpretation to the Bible. Much of it was hearsay, and it created resentment against the Catholic Church. It is a source of modern anti-clericalism. Mirror-image charges of anti-Semitism should not be made with similar irresponsibility lest they have a similar result. Thoughtful people who engage in a serious discussion of politics or religion may be accused of anti-Semitism at the slightest criticism of the Jews or of Israel. This is not conducive to honest debate, and it is certainly not the WAIS way.

Ronald Hilton - 1/22/00


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