Friday, May 21, 2010

No Decency

I've been reading an excellent book by Francine Prose (great name for a writer) about Anne Frank. Some of it is hard to take, as we see the lead-up to the Holocaust, where Jews living anywhere within the range of the Nazis had their rights taken away, bit by bit, ultimately leading to their slaughter. (For an idea of what it was like, this timeline is helpful.)

This is why it's stomach-churning when people casually compare how some are treated today to the Holocaust. Nevertheless, it's become a common rhetorical device in condemning Arizona's new immigration law.

There are plenty of ways to attack the law without invoking Nazis. Yet here's what LA Council member, and fellow Jew, Paul Koretz said recently:

This is very frightening stuff. If this was being proposed at the federal level, I would think we're absolutely at the very beginnings of what went on in Nazi Germany [....]

And you may think I'm overstating it, but I'm not, because SB 1070 — the immigration law — is just the tip of the iceberg.

Koretz should apologize (at the very least).

I have a simple flowchart for those who wish to compare things to the Holocaust.

1. Should I compare this to the Holocaust?
2. No

PS A friend of mine recently confronted Koretz over his comments. Rather than apologize immediately, Koretz kept trying to make excuses, blaming other and saying he was misunderstood. He also misstated facts, but that's not important, because even if he had his facts straight, they wouldn't offer the slightest excuse.


Blogger QueensGuy said...

I mostly agree, but please allow me to suggest a special exception for those who are describing their visit to Cambodia.

3:15 PM, May 21, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an idea: Let people make these comparisons only to Cambodia.

For some odd reason, that will take the steam out of it.

6:33 AM, May 23, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still not the same thing. Most genocides don't have the explicit goal of completely wiping out a group. Of the few that do, there has never been a serious attempt at genocide where the killers searched through various countries, and would have combed the entire earth if it could, seeking out a particular group, doing it even against their own interest. Searching for a group that couldn't easily be identified, not by sight or location, a group that presented no threat to the killers.

Here's a somewhat related essay:

10:41 AM, May 23, 2010  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

I didn't say it was the same thing. I said it was "comparable." Things must be somewhat different to be comparable. Otherwise the word to use is "identical." I think there is real danger in refusing to compare one genocide to another. They are all sui generis in some characteristics.

8:49 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If everything is sui generis, then everything is sui generis. There are a lot of horrible genocides, but they're generally comparable--one group kills a whole bunch of another group, often through nasty means (and generally not starting with the intent to kill the whole group, and generall attacking as easily identifiable group based on where they live). The Holocaust is difference from all other genocides, and has specific aspects that haven't been duplicated. It doesn't make other genocide any less awful by noting the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

9:25 AM, May 24, 2010  

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