Teach the Controversy (!)

I wasn’t sure I’d do this, but I’m really pissed off.

This morning I opened my front door to find a flier lying on the porch.  I thought it was another local contractor ad or announcement of a barbecue-and-rummage sale, so I scooped it up to glance at it before dropping it in the recycle hopper.  Instead, I find in my hand a vile piece of unconscionable poison.  And it seemed like it would be such a nice day!

I’m not going to dignify this crap by citing the source.  The header of the two-side sheet reads: The Holocaust Controversy  The Case For Open Debate.  What follows is a putrid example of revisionist nonsense designed to suggest that six million Jews were not systematically slaughtered by the Third Reich.  In tone, it is reasonable.  It does not make many strident claims with exclamation points, just calmly asserts one bullshit “fact” after another (plus a photograph of an open pit containing the skeletonized remains of concentration camp victims labeling it a photo of typhus victims) to lay the groundwork for the claim that the Holocaust didn’t happen, that it is all a Big Lie assembled by a Zionist conspiracy to advance the cause of sympathy for stateless Jews in order to get them a state.

I will cite one piece of twisty nonsense from the flier.  In one paragraph, the calim is made that in 1990 the Auschwitz State Museum revised the old claim of four million murdered down to one million.  It then goes on with a list of (uncited) claims of further numeric reductions, not by the Auschwitz Museum, but by “a French scholar” and “another mainstream Holocaust scholar” all the way down to half a million.  The wording is slippery.  I advise you to go to the link provided, which is directly to the museum, and read the detailed history.  The paragraph I mention in the flier leaves off with the suggestion that only a half million people were “actually” killed in total.

The Nazis murdered eleven million people, systematically, with calculation.  Nearly six million were Jews (the number vary above and below by a few tens of thousands, but they come from testimony given at Nuremberg, from eye-witness accounts, estimates of populations before and after the war, and many other methods of tabulations, not through “best guesses,” which is what the sheet of propaganda left on my porch would have one believe), but there were five million others—gypies, homosexuals, slavs of various nationalities, and political undesirables such as communists, socialists, social democrats, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people accused of being “asocial” or of “socially deviant type.”

This is not disputed by any credible authority.

Nor is Hitler’s obsession with the Jews, nor is the history of virulent antisemitism in Europe, nor are the claims made by various members of the Nazi regime, nor is the physical evidence of the camps.

Over a million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz.  It was a large camp and has become the symbol for all the others.  But bear one fact in mind before you quibble over numbers or intent: the Nazis built 20,000 of these camps.

Not all have ovens, not all had gas chambers, but all of them were forced labor camps and all of them were in the business of killing the inmates.  Conservatively, all you would need is a hundred deaths per camp to bring it up to two million.  Five hundred per camp and you get ten million.

People were worked endlessly, underfed, disease ran rampant, mass graves were common.  We have seen this kind of barbarism in our recent history, in Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia.  And yes, Stalin killed millions more.

The offensiveness of this shit is profound.  Yet here is this scrap of paper suggesting that, like the nonsense over evolution, we should “teach the controversy.”

Fine.  Here is the controversy I would teach.  The controversy of denial, that people would try so hard to say this never happened or, as is more likely of late, that it wasn’t “as bad” as has been stated.  The controversy that continually puts Jews under the spotlight, which is the same germinal thinking that resulted in this horrific bit of substantiated history.

I’ve had lengthy conversations with people who believe this.  The hallmark of them is that they managed never to directly address any evidence put before them.  Direct them to the Nuremberg transcripts, they say something about not having found “those” records.  Direct them to eyewitness testimony, they haven’t had a chance to validate it.  The snake-slithers of obfuscation and refusal to confront is incredible to behold, but the question that boggles my mind is this:

To what end do you wish to exonerate Hitler and the Third Reich?

Is it that you can’t imagine Europeans doing this?  Look what we did to the Indians.  Is it that you simply cannot bring yourselves to believe the word of anyone not a Christian?  Look at the lies spread in the name of Christ, up to and including the abuse of children by priest (and the fact that in Rwanda there were Catholic priests leading the charge in some areas to slaughter).  Is it that you can’t believe people could be that evil for no reason?  I can see that as a problem, because if they could do something like that, then so could you.

Here’s the ugly truth—circumstances permitting, most people can be that evil.  Just look at Rwanda.  That was over religion, birth rates, and water tables.  Cambodia was over ideology.

Oh, but those weren’t white people?  Europeanized, educated, civilized whites?  How could the home of Kant and Beethoven, Goethe and Mann harbor such vileness?

That’s the controversy.  The fragility of the thin veneer of civilization that keeps us “above it all.”  How easily is it stripped, broken, thrown away if we feel threatened.  (We just extended the Patriot Act another four years, a rather blatant violation of Constitutional liberties, and all just so we’ll feel “safe.”)

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  There are Nazis in my neighborhood.  But it does shock me, every time I find it.  Turn over a rock you always thought was harmless and even pretty and there are the maggots of the soul…

Holocaust Revisionism is evil.  It may be on par with the Holocaust itself.  “Oh, don’t pay attention to the screams behind that curtain—it’s not what you think.  Besides, isn’t it a fine curtain?  Do you really think the people capable of creating such a lovely curtain could be monsters?”

Got one word for you:  Wagner.

Have a nice weekend.