The politics of ignorance: Election 2010

“I am you”–the now-famous line from Delaware Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell’s campaign ad–exemplifies the marketing of ignorance that lies … Continued

“I am you”–the now-famous line from Delaware Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell’s campaign ad–exemplifies the marketing of ignorance that lies at the heart of this year’s mid-term elections. The melding of religious fundamentalism, anti-rationalism in the form of an assault on science, and bogus populism is such stuff as nightmares are made on. O’Donnell, who is the most obviously ill-educated member of the Tea Party Class of ’10, is simply the purest embodiment of the politics of proud ignorance. If she is us, we are doomed.

O’Donnell’s inability to understand why creationism and intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools is an example of the ways in which retrograde religion melds with ignorance about the Constitution and a total lack of respect for and understanding of science. By the way, O’Donnell is clearly uneducated about her own religion, Roman Catholicism, or she would know that her church finds evolution compatible with faith. The church has long taught that faithful Catholics may accept evolution as the mechanism by which God oversaw the development of the universe and the creation of man. (There is not world enough and time here to discuss the intellectual inconsistency of this position, but the fact is that it is the position taken by the Vatican for the past half-century. It is probably the reason a higher percentage of Catholics, in comparison to any other religious group in the United States with the exception of Jews, accepts evolution as settled science.)

By contrast, biblically literal Protestantism, generally called fundamentalism in the U.S., takes the very different position that if the Bible says the world was created in six days, well, it must have been created in six days. Federal District Court Judge John E. Jones, in his wonderfully lucid decision Kitzmiller v. Dover found intelligent design to be just another religious doctrine trying to skirt previous court decisions barring the teaching of creationism in public schools. Jones, by the way, was a lifelong Republican before being appointed to the court by President George W. Bush. He was of course a different kind of Republican from the participants in the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

When I say that O’Donnell and Sharron Angle and all of the Tea Party/Republican candidates this year are ignorant, I do not call them ignorant because I disagree with their political views. I disagreed with the late Sen. Barry Goldwater too, but I don’t think he was ignorant. I disagree with with the reactionary politics of the young and middle-aged quasi-academic fogies at all of the right-wing “think tanks,” but they are not ignorant and uneducated. They’re just wrong. But the right-wingers in this year’s election cycle aren’t even capable of explaining why they believe what they believe because few of them have any real background in history, law, religion, or science. It’s all part of the contempt for “eliites”; ie., people who have studied anything, in American culture and politics.

Consider O’Donnell’s response when the issue of separation of church and state reared its head in her debate with Democrat Chris Coons this week. It couldn’t have been clearer that O’Donnell had been prepped to parrot the statement that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution. When Coons started saying that the First Amendment prohibits “establishing religion” she clearly had no idea what he was talking about or what it had to do with the separation of church and state, so she just said nervously, “That’s in the First Amendment?”

Unfortunately, O’Donnell is indeed us in her knowledge of the Constitution. As I noted in The Age of American Unreason, surveys by the National Constitution Center show that the only First Amendment right a majority of Americans can name is freedom of speech. Sixty percent did not know that freedom of religion was guaranteed by the amendment. Only four in ten adults, and just two in ten teenagers, know that there are 100 senators. The Constitution, as used by the right, is a symbol without the substance ignorance–just as the Bible has become a symbol for the majority of Americans who cannot even name the Four Gospels. They may not have read the Gospels, but they know what they like.

On Faith panelist Cal Thomas writes that the separation of church and state is a bogus assertion “meant to keep seriously religious people (meaning pro-life, pro-opposite sex marriage, etc.) from full participation in our nation’s political life….” Thomas simply ignores the fact that there are all sorts of seriously religious people who support embryonic stem cell research, keeping abortion legal, and gay marriage. By “seriously religious people,” what he means is his kind of religion. This is the tactic long used by the religious and political right–claiming he general mantle of religion for themselves and themselves alone.

The embroiling of a childishly literal form of faith with ignorance is most visible in the right’s anti-science positions. In Indiana this week, incumbent Democrat Baron P. Hill was booed at a rally in which he said, “Climate change is real, and man is causing it. That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it.” Norman Dennison, the founder of a local Tea Party group, told a reporter, “It’s a flat-out lie. ” He said his opinion was based on Rush Limbaugh’s programs and Scripture. “I read my Bible,” he said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.” It was not entirely clear whether the He with a capital “H” referred to God or to Preacher Rush.

Of all the Republican senatorial primary candidates this year, only one–the defeated Mike Castle in Delaware–accepted the scientific consensus about the reality of and the threat posed by global warming. Of the 20 Republican senatorial candidates in contested races, only one–Mark Stephen Kirk in Illinois–believes that global warning is a serious environmental problem. Scientists — those snooty Ph.D.s–are seen as part of a conspiracy to impose government regulation. If this happens to serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry and those who oppose all government regulation of business, well, who are the heads of Exxon and BP to question the will of the Lord?

Again, I emphasize that it is not all religion but a particular kind of religion that feeds into this toxic combination of ignorance, hostility to science, and general anti-intellectualism. Liberal evangelicals have strongly supported environmental legislation in recent years, citing the obligation to be good stewards of the earth. Now, I don’t think the human authors of the Bible have anything useful to tell us–pro or con–about the environment today, given that they were writing at a time when the riches of the earth must have seemed limitless (unless, of course, you were wandering in the desert and had to rely on the Lord to provide). But the distinguishing feature of far-right religion, injected into politics, is its assertion not that we can’t look to science and intellect for the answers to everything but that we can’t look to them for the answer to anything.

THIS WEEK IN REVIEW

In reviewing the response to my column about the documentary on the Nurmemberg trials, I hardly know where to begin when I consider the number of comments suggesting that there is no educational value in films or books about atrocities committed in the name of ideology. There is Farnaz, who argues that “showing the film, reading books, etc. accomplishes little except to feed anti-Semites…”Jihadist is equally misguided in his contention that we should not show pictures of corpses being shoveled into mass graves because such exposure is an insult to victims “Do they [the victims] really want us to see them in their degradation, their humiliations, their indignity at the hands of the genociders?” he asks. In a sentence fragment, he adds, “If it comes to a point where we need to show films with hanging or shooting or gassing to sensitise or educate…”

Mary Cunningham accuses writers like me (and presumably every historian who continues to write books about the Nazi era) of “prolonging the whole episode.” She writes, “There’s a whole industry sprung up about the Nazis. I despair. When will it stop?”

“The whole episode.” What a bland, euphemistic turn of phrase. When will “it” stop? It will stop on the day when human beings have learned enough about what horrors the human species is capable of to stop repeating those horrors in new forms. Apropos of Cunningham’s comments about what the English did to the Irish, one of the reasons imperial powers were able to get away with what they did to the people they were trying to colonize and exploit was that they were able to do it with a much greater degree of secrecy than they were in the second half of the 20th century, and were therefore confident of their immunity from punishment.

Exactly how much knowledge do you think the world would have today about the Nazis if there had been no Nuremberg trials and no Eichmann trial, or if the evidence had been available only to jurors and judges? Without the evidence, no one would believe it. As is, there are enough Holocaust denyers–the sort of people who, even if they were in a crowd at an auto-da-fe, would claim it never happened . Films and documents may not convince hard-core Holocaust denyers of anything, but they have led to an enormous change in general public attitudes between, roughly, 1960 and today. That evidence can never cast light into the darkness of some people’s minds does not mean that it provides no illumination for others.

Finally, the real insult to dead victims is to fail to show what was done to them. And that’s true whether the victim is a Jew, a Muslim, an Irish Catholic, or a Cambodian. Many survivors have written and said that their worst fear in the camps was that if they lived to tell their story, no one would believe them. Without the visual and documentary evidence, they would have been right. If schoolchildren laughed at the pile of Cambodian skulls, they did so because they were not prepared for or properly educated about what they were going to see. In fact, such laugher is an even more powerful argument on behalf of education about evaluating evidence–not an argument for squeamishly concealing the evidence. Finally, I can imagine nothing less relevant to the education of people in the future than speculation about what the victims would, or would not, have wanted. Of one thing we can be sure: they didn’t want to die. And it does no honor to their memory to shield future generations from the evidence of what was done to them throughout “the whole episode.”

Susan Jacoby
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  • Jihadist

    Dear Ms. Jacoby, Re. “This week in review” portion, we will have to agree to disagree on how best to “educate” us on crimes against humanity. Unlike in Europe, the United States, there are no whole sections in bookstores on the Shoah in Latin America, Africa and Asia. There are also not whole sections on genocides in other countries and other places. One is hard pressed to find many books on genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia or the Balkans much less museums to educate one on genocides here and there. On the Shoah, I remember best that that chilling book, “The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting : Wannsee and the Final Solution” by Mark Roseman, where seemingly intelligent men coolly and methodically discussed the transport and genocide of Shoah victims. Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” is a more terrifying reminder on the “banality of evil” than any museum exhibits on the acts of evil by man, especially those seemingly “normal” but not quite a thinking being easily led, told what to think and do as the case may be. The names of some 80,000 victims of Shoah on the walls of Pinkas synagogue in Prague is a more effective reminder of the genocide committed against them. If museum exhibits, documentary films and photos are regarded as educational reminders of the depths of evil man is capable of, than to also educate the young, and adults too, that committing crimes such as murder, torture and more so, genocides, is inhumane, unethical, immoral and just plainly wrong, no matter how much we find the “other/s” reprehensible in ethnicity, religious belief, political ideology, attitudes, values. If it comes to a point where we need to show films with hanging or shooting or gassing to sensitise or educate, then we have failed as humans and loss our humanity. Hanging, shooting, gassing people is the 20th and 21st century equivalent of quartering and burning people at the stakes. In this day and age where violence in news, movies and TV seemed relentless and Youtube afford uncensored versions of violence edited out in mainstream media, there is also the banality of violence, both real and manufactured in movies, which seem not so shocking anymore, but for the numbers of victims of violence and the acts of violence itself and the human capacity to do so. I am an anonymous “she” by the way. I do take note of your contentions stated several times in your posts before re your displeasure, wariness and weariness with those who don’t use their real names in blogs who are assumed not to “stand by” what they say.

  • timmy2

    Ed says:”To think that anything that a nation of 300 million can do will offset the legitimate yearnings of billions of others who want the good life and are willing to use combustion to get it requires a breathtaking leap”Actually all it takes is thinking not just with your head alone, but also with your heart. It takes seeing that transcendent mystic connection that binds us all. But I guess that is beyond you when you are in partisan mode. The exceptionally partisan buddhist. lmao.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Susan, On feeding antisemites–I think my point should have been driven home by the sudden reappearance of Mary Cunningham, who, as Onofrio put it was anxious to “fix” the HOlocaust, engage in competitive victimization (Catholics vs. Jews), and bemoan the treachery of Prof. Scmalz in league with “Jewish” Lisa Miller in maligning the Pope’s visit.YOu’ve been an OnFaith panelist for far longer than I’ve been a blogger. You have read what used to be hundreds of nightmarish racist comments that appeared on threads every time the Shoah was mentioned. Every time, indeed, whenever a rabbi posted on anything. The presence of one “assertive” Jew can make a difference, as you would have noticed had you read those filthy comments. And I suspect, in fact, know that you did. However, even one such as I could not stop an avalanche and so it would persist.In some communities, Shoah material lead to violence against Jewish students.Think for a moment. Why do we hear so little about it? Why do we know almost nothing of Johanna JUstin Jinich, her murder?

  • Secular

    It is probably the reason a higher percentage of Catholics, in comparison to any other religious group in the United States with the exception of Jews, accepts evolution as settled science.) You could easily say near 100% of Hindus, Buddhists, & Jains in the US also subscribe to Evolution. Probably the most in India, who know of evolution – need to distinguish that because there are multitude who are not even aware of it, given the illiteracy. This is not due to any profound thought, but because most of the Hindus are not at all familiar with the Hindu creation myths. Also, Hindus have learned to compartmentalize their faith from their secular life.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Susan,Addendum on the Shoah:Forgive me for any rough prose. I’m posting hastily, out of necessity.There are other, numerous ways in which perceived “harping” on the Holocaust invokes bigotry. Christians and Muslims, in particular (why, oh why they), variously argue that Jews are hogging the genocide victim market, view it as an affair conducted by one nation (Germany) as the result of some sort of sudden attack of moral “earthquake, a departure from rather than outcome of history.When that doesn’t work, we learn that the true victims were not the Jews, that Catholics/Christians were not the perpetrators. Rather it was the “nazis,” who slaughtered Christians. This is all the revisionist rage today. That Poland, for example, was busily at work with on the more antisemitic legislation while German troops were massing at the border is, somehow, overlooked (still).Most do not know, and are resistant to knowing the numbers of nations and ordinary people (please don’t bring up Browning–bring up his source which is Milgram free)that relished in blood. Speaking of whom, how about the 150 priests, murderers with their own hands?And what have we learned? What say we of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, currently the biggest purveyors of antisemitic material worldwide? What say we of what we read in their newspapers? In the newspapers of every single Muslim land, save, perhaps, Kosovo?What said we about the persecution of Jews in the Middle East? What said YOU of recent events in the Middle East?What say we of the violence against Jews in Europe?What say we about the presence of antisemitic faculty, nationally known, who publish antisemitic “anthropology”?What say we when christian students throw pennies at Jewish kids as they walk in the hallways to their next class?The majority thousands of perpetrators were never punished, the historical nature of the Shoah and antisemitism was never addressed, and anti-Jewish racism continues. Muslims use it with Christians, blacks with whites, and everybody gonna be white….

  • FarnazMansouri2

    On O’Donnell vs. CoonsI don’t question that Coons is better educated, more glib, more effectively combative than O’Donnell, and he may be “smarter.”However, the conservative argument re the First Amendment is no joke, as bishops legislating in Congress amply demonstrates.”Liberals” must not glide over this. The “Establishment Clause” has been LITERALLY honored in that we have no established religion. As worded, along with Free Exercise, it has permitted conscience clauses, faith-based funding, senators to remark that they will not sign off on anything of which the “bishops” do not approve. Add the Fundies, and there you have it.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    In the previous thread, I said that children should be shown the movies of the Nazi death camps, and having a sensitive nature should not be an excuse to get out of it.There are Holocaust deniers, and it is easier for people to buy into this if they have never seen the real images of the death camps.In many Muslim countries, Iran and the Arab countries, for example, as well as Pakistan, people do not have access to these films for the deliberate political purpose of preventing or tamping down any sort empathetic feeling for the suffering of the Jews.Governments and individual who seek to cover-up the Holocaust have ZERO moral credibility on ANYTHING else, and they can all just shut up as far as I am concerned.

  • timmy2

    Ed,”I do not support efforts that necessarily demand poverty for hundreds of millions to be effective”Said the American capitalist. lmao.

  • Secular

    Hello all, i just saw this at hatesermons.blogspot.comQuran (Koran) Conference in Dallas, an American effort to build cohesive societiesFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOct 10, 2010 – DALLAS, TEXAS – The Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress have announced a conference on Quraan in Dallas to be held between 3:00 PM and 6 PM on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at the Unity Church of Dallas. Representing the organizations, Mike Ghouse adds, “As members of diverse family of faiths, we seek to demystify the myths and falsification of our respective faiths. It is time for all of us to gather and understand the Qur’aan, the holy book of Muslims, which has been the subject of attack by a few among us. Indeed, the conference is a positive response to negative sermons delivered from a few pulpits of America this year.”The uniqueness of the event is highlighted by facing the “terrifying passages” of Quraan. For the first time in history, the actual verses from Quraan will be read directly and explained by non-Muslim panelists made up of Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, Clergy, lay persons and elected officials who have a deep interest in bringing Americans together on common grounds. The Muslim scholars either affirm their reading or refer to the Quraan for further understanding. It would be indeed a first hand educational experience.It is time now to replace the ill-will with goodwill; no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. The purpose of this conference is to remove such myths in an open forum in the public and restore the cohesiveness of our society and work towards building a safe and secure America. Bring your children to experience the multi-cultural costumes in a designated room for them.Refreshments will be served after the event.THE EVENT IS FREEPlease R.S.V.P. to confirmattendance@gmail.com For details visit website

  • buckminsterj

    As Susan points out, fundamentalists typically wield the Bible and Consititution as symbolic – rather than substantive – weapons. As symbols, these documents can be invested with any meaning the wielders so choose.Which I know is a fairly insipid observation (though nonetheless instructive). For such people, “god” is simply a receptacle for and reflection of one’s pre-formed desires and prejudices.

  • mrbradwii

    …[right wing wonks] are not ignorant and uneducated. They’re just wrong…Therein lies the nature of political partisanship. To the right, the left are just plain wrong. Both sides have boatloads of empirical evidence (although my personal preferences weight the libertarian evidence much more strongly). And that is the nature of power: history is written and rewritten by the powerful, as it swings, each side using their own tinted glasses to see the evidence that is most compelling while filtering out the inconvenient “truths”.The trick is what can you do with someone who thinks you are wrong and whom you think is wrong? It’s non-trivial problem in human action and interaction and we’re less and less prepared to solve it, since the 60s destroyed any sense of civil discourse. As far as O’Donnell, if they elect her, then they get what they deserve. She is truly them then and, after all, this is a representative democracy.Politics is not unlike marriage and family. All the elite education and vast cultural references cannot prepare you for the simplest household conflict, i.e. between partisans who do not accept your authority, your arguments, your goals, or your premises. JFK may have been a scholar, but he was a good people person. Charm is the word used to describe him far more than, say, brilliant, thoughtful, educated, intellectual or scintillating. Charm has been the highest form of political capital ever since.O’Donnell of course is no JFK, nor even a Teddy, just an unprepared rookie who is getting her 15 minutes. And I have to agree with Ed. I don’t think there are very many who deny there is human impact on climate. The disagreement is about the nature of what can be effectively done about it. You can string up all the capitalists in the world by the balls and eviscerate them, but you still have 6 billion humans, a substantial number of whom are living in latitudes that require some form of combustion to keep them alive. The problem ain’t going away in some sort of nirvana of wind-turbine bliss. The math just doesn’t support it. Denial of math is the worst form, whether it’s the republican who doesn’t “believe in global warming” or the green freak who thinks if we all just used cloth grocery bags, the world will be a less toxic and more tranquil place.The only good things about politicians is, eventually, they lose — that is the saving grace of our democracy.

  • armandduncan83

    Just out of curiosity, Susan, what did you mean by “bogus populism”?

  • PSolus

    WmarkW,”Murray points out that elites have few experiences in common with the average American (i.e. voter). They’ve never watched a full episode of Oprah, read a Left Behind novel, or visited Branson MO.”Well, then, I guess that I might be an elite.”Elites come from upper-middle-class families, attend top universities, go into a narrow range of career choices, and marry someone just like themselves.”Check that, I guess that I’m actually not an elite.Do you and Charles (The Bell Curve) Murray have a category for people like me?

  • globalone

    A great man once said, “The single greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”Notice that the author failed to use words such as “Republican”, “Christian”, and “Conservative” to illustrate the point.Maybe it’s because for every couch potato we can find who would vote for O’Donnell, we’ll find another who would vote for the likes of Alcee Hastings (D), Charlie Rangel (D), Chris Dodd (D), Kent Conrad (D), and Barney Frank (D).

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Susan Jacoby has answered my objections regarding the commercialisation of the Holocaust. If I read her rebuttal correctly her points are:• Inappropriate usage: instead of Holocaust along with modifying adjectives I used of the word ‘episode’ which Jacoby found insulting–far too innocuous. In defence I can only say that I did consider using the word “genocide”, “mass murder”, Shoah, etc. However, none of them worked. “Prolonging the • Further, she raises the spectre of Holocaust-denial. She asks • Lastly, she accuses me of “insulting the victims” by denying the telling of their story. This is a bit low. The victims will tell their story. They have to. (All you need to do is look at Irish history to know that). But at some point you have to draw a line under it and move forward. That was Mandela’s insight. The Irish finally managed to do it in the 1970s.( OK, they took a lot longer than black South Africans.) Continuously retelling atrocities just brings forth more atrocities–Irish history tells you that. That is what I meant when I wrote that the atrocities committed against the Ukrainians led to their atrocities against the Jews, which in the ME led to deaths of the Palestinians, which led to deaths of Israelis, more deaths of Palestinians, then Americans, then Iraqis. All the Holocaust-retelling does is justify the current violence. And at some point it has to stop.

  • WmarkW

    “Guttenplan dates the phenomenon of denying the Holocaust from about 1995.”No, American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell was denying the Holocaust in the early sixties. Rockwell’s focus and motivation were perhaps a bit different from modern deniers — he was an extreme anti-Semite and advocate of a Nazi-like political philosophy for America, and knew the holocaust was a barrier to its acceptance.

  • WmarkW

    One aspect of our holocaust knowledge that does bother me is the extent to which Jewish perceptions of it have come to overshadow others who were also killed for their uselessness to the state. We do have a general knowledge that gays, Jehovah’s witnesses and the mentally retarded or ill were also executed. But the number of victims is usually quoted as “six million Jews and two to six million others.” This strongly suggests that the representatives of the first six million aren’t that interested in researching the other millions if their death total is only known to a fudge factor of three.

  • WmarkW

    Mary: Rockwell was not a one-off. It’s possible that the most current Muslim and Palestinian-sympathetic variety is not intellectually related to Rockwell’s version, but it certainly was popular into the 70s and 80s among the American Far (Nut) Right.On you last paragraph, the Devil is a human invention, sometimes used to excuse brain-farts. One necessary condition for the holocaust was complete control of communications to convince a population of the subhumanness of another. But this is another area in which Jewish control of holocaust research has created a stone wall. If those victims had been Jews, the side which killed them would have been extensively researched.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    The last several comments about the Holocaust are just plain silly. This kind of simple-minded thinking is exactly why the showing of the films of the Nazi death-camps should be more widespread. If people could actually see what happened, they might be less likely to get bogged down in navel-gazing, regarding the exact tablulation and tablulation methodology, of how many of what group suffered this or that fate. When Hitler was done with his work, there is undeniable evidence that the world was short six million Jews. Where, I wonder, did they go?Like evolution, the facts of the Holocaust are pretty much settled, and available for anyone to observe; to overlook this part of knowlege, and to claim ignorance, and then to be boastful of such ignorance, especially on such topic as this, just makes people look ridiculous. Just look, for example, at the doughy-eyed, dopey, President of Iran, who doesn’t know that there are gay people in Iran, and doesn’t know anything about the Holocaust.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Re: EvilLeszek Kolakowski:

  • WmarkW

    Back on the topic of elites and global warming.One can view “elite” as either a positive or negative term. On the positive side, they can be people of high talent or intellect or have otherwise earned a high station in life. One can also view elites as people detached from the common man, viewing themselves as superior, and wanting to make rules for him that don’t apply to themselves.To which group do the global warming activists belong? Susan above makes that case that they’re objective scientists. Some undoubtably are. But I suspect many of the activists, especially the non-scientists among them, are more like negative-type elitists in holding that common people need to be made to behave better.Liberal elitists in academia especially, but also in fields tied to them, like journalists, tend to view common Americans as beneficiaries of “privilege” and see the purpose of education as to explain to them why they have lived too well at the expense of others. The difference in lifestyle between an average American and poor one depends largely on energy consumption: an automobile to commute with, so they don’t have to live in the run-down cities in which they work; a large home and yard the require climate controlling and mowing; weekends shopping or in the countryside mandating more energy use.The attempt to ration energy is a way of limiting the average person’s ability to enjoy their income above the poverty level. And to them, sounds like another elitist attempt to make them pay a price for oppression of the poor that they didn’t participate in.

  • onofrio

    Mary Cunningham of London,Thee:So if we all stop talking about the Holocaust, the “current violence” (hint, hint) will be starved of *justification* and waste away to nothing.Auschwi…..SSHHH!

  • WmarkW

    One other thing about anti-elites. A lot of common Americans have never understood things like:how illegal immigration doesn’t create unemployment or depress wages for Americansbailouts don’t lead to government debthow giving mortgages to people who didn’t qualify for form wouldn’t lead to mass foreclosuresSomehow, there were plenty of elites available in high places who could make these work.

  • onofrio

    WMarkW,Thee:Let’s see, – a “necessary” precondition of the holocaust is “complete control of communications”.- Jews exercise “control” of holocaust research.Insinuation: Implication: Victim-blaming and blame-shifting. There’s nothing to stop motivated Ukrainians, Poles, gays, Jehovah’s Witnesses et alii “extensively researching” those birds of their own feather (and of other feathers, indeed) who were wasted by Nazis, Soviets, etc.There’s no Jewish “stone wall”.

  • onofrio

    Mary Cunningham, quoting Kolakowski,”Evil, I contend, is not contingent.”Is it then necessary?

  • onofrio

    If Jews follow Mary Cunningham’s advice and shoosh-up about the Holocaust, will the Ahmadinejads and Irvings of this world also shut up?She seems to think so. In fact, she knows so. In Mary C’s purview, the phenomenon of Holocaust-denialism is simply a reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is, of course, primarily the fault of those perfidious Jews. At bottom, it’s still all “the Jews'” fault, you see.Mary has continued doughtily to suppress her epic, atheist-induced nausea so she can restore the balance on all this Jewish hoohaa. And she has even wheeled in the Catholically endorsed, all-real, utterly necessary Devil to back her irked thunder.We are not worthy.

  • onofrio

    Mary Cunningham,Thee:Believing in such a personal “Devil” is part of the problem, Mary, in that it mutes and displaces human responsibility for evil acts. Like an all-good personal God, an all-evil personal Devil can’t remain a notion. The human heart craves his incarnation, and the human imagination projects him onto likely suspects…and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    SUSAN JACOBY:Evidently you missed the news from the Christians/Catholics, cultural and observant, so here it is.NO JEWS WERE KILLED IN THE HOLOCAUST.The Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Russians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Slovak, Croat, French, Greek, Romanian, Austrian Catholics and Protestants were the victims. (Of the NAZIS from ANOTHER PLANET.)It was not Jews who were murdered at Babi Yar by Ukranian Catholics admit. They were not dumped in a pit after being slaughtered. NO! It was the Ukranian Catholics who were killed by the NAZIS from ANOTHER PLANET.Similarly, it was not ordinary men who put Jews in vans, plugged in the exhaust pipes, and drove around until the Jews died, their exploded bodies pasted to the walls. NO. It was the Catholics and Protestants killed by the NAZIS FROM ANOTHER PLANET.IN GREECE, in Salonika, no Jews were killed and deported. NO, IT WAS THE GREEK ORTHODOX murdered by thE NAZIS FROM ANOTHER PLANET.IN ROMANIA, it was not the Romanian Jews who were slaughtered by the Romanian Orthodox, and hung up on meathooks in some cases, under the auspices of Valerian Trifa, Archbishop, ultimately forced out of the US. ONLY Romanian Orthodox were killed by the NAZIS from ANOTHER PLANET.THE 150-200 Utashe Vatican priests? The torturers? Concentration camp owners? Those who slit their victims’ throats and collected the blood in dishes? NOPE. (NAZIS from ANOTHER PLANET–never mind that the Vatican doesn’t deny it.)Never mind the documentary and photographic evidence. NO JEWS DIED. NAZIS FROM ANOTHER PLANET KILLED CHRISTIANS/CATHOLICS.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    It isn’t merely the ignorance, ignorance of the research on all those involved–victims and perpetrators–as well as bystanders and rescuers–it’s the willfulness, the insistence on the ignorance, the demand for it.It’s the half mad numbers on who was killed. Rather, it is that this isn’t a remedial English or history blog, is it.And even if it were, the sheer amount of material I, alone, have posted on ALL INVOLVED and VICTIMIZED could constitute a blog in itself. Hence, the unlettered among us merely had to read along, not even click on sources, etc. But moral illiteracy is another matter, it is not.Christians/Catholics, in the main, remain a puzzlement to the rest of us. But, the rest of us have time. Time to post and time to write over and over again. (And again.)

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Nazis from Another Planet–Maybe Mel Gibson would be interested.

  • david6

    “There are also smart secular conservatives who are skeptical about global warming like Charles Krauthammer and George Will.”They may have been smart, but they are neither wise nor informed when it comes to science. Their pronouncements on global warming are of no more value than the opinions of toddlers. Will, in particular, has a habit of making up his own ‘facts’.

  • mrbradwii

    Actually, I think the Cunningham makes a good point.At some point you have to stop tallying up the bodies in search of ultimate justice. In the politics of retaliation, the cycle must constantly feed itself. There is always someone unavenged. And even if you try to get to the bottom of it and punish someone for the murder of another, if you don’t go back far enough and punish the whole string of players, all you do is piss someone off enough to restart the cycle.It is West Side Story writ large. At some point something has to give. If I remember the Irish thing correctly, what bought everybody to the table was the inadvertent killing of mass quantities of children. There is always a sober moment when you ask yourself if that is what you are really all about and say no. That is the time to cultivate.Justice can only go so far before you have to live and let live. Otherwise, the whole of Germany’s population would’ve been incarcerated or executed. The French went that way in their Reign of Terror. It wasn’t a good thing.Now, this has nothing to do with showing history as it actually happened so I disagree with her there. The record *is* the record. History, taught properly, should not incite but engage.Again, at some point you stop and say, this is not what we’re going to do going forward. South Africa seems to have done it. The Czechs did it.It can be done.Maybe one day, even democrats and republicans can.

  • Jihadist

    Now we have news of the German foreign service officials aiding and abetting in Nazi genocides. The German truth and reconcialiation, or truth and retaliation process is over 60 years now and there will be more truths to come.Not committing evil, not being the devil in human rights abuses and crimes against humanity is obviously less complicated. It takes a lot of hatred, spite, organising, energy to perpetrate and perpetuate human rights abuses, violations, crimes against humanity. And which brings us back to the Teabaggers, who are disquieted by the economic state, who are the “real Americans”, migrants defouling America’s social-economic-political waters, rants by rigtist-patriots etc.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I have visited Germany once.I was impressed by all of the many public references to Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. It is not hushed-up or whispered about; it is an accepted part of German history, to which all are subjected, and which all must acknowledge.If the Germans do not deny the Holocaust, then why should anyone else?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    JihadistI think that the German truth and reconcilliaion process that you cite, actually refers to what happened in East Germany under the Communist regime, which was deposed in 1989.There is not any controversy about what happened under the Nazi regime. There has never been any attempt at reconcilliaiton with the Nazis. The Nazi regime waged total war on its enemies, and went down to defeat in total war, and suffered total degradation and defeat.