Many countries have laws that make it a crime to deny the Holocaust and that is a good thing. But no country has a law on its books that make it a crime to misappropriate the Holocaust or its imagery and that is a true scandal.
As Jews, most of us have relatives who either perished or survived the horrors imposed upon us because of our religion during the Second World War. We honor and remember them as is our collective responsibility as Jews and human beings. But what can we do to prevent others from insulting the memory of our departed loved ones such as the Mormons do who “baptize” dead Holocaust survivors, even though they are under court order to cease this contemptible act.
How can we address the common practice by politicians who use Nazi imagery such as Gestapo references and other such affronts to our sensibilities for their own political purposes? I am not speaking about the “Never Again” movement started by victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting which I discussed in a previous blog. I am speaking about ignorant public figures, such as Newt Gingrich, who states offensive things such as comparing America’s law enforcement agency, the FBI, to using “Gestapo” tactics on the citizenry. This is where I unequivocally state that making such comments is anti-Semitic. Why? Because it attempts to reduce our suffering to soundbites that are highly inflammatory, inaccurate and just plain offensive and they ignore actual history. One would expect someone who has degrees in history (Gingrich’s should be revoked) to be accurate in their assessments and comparisons of historical facts with current events. That is the responsibility of all professional and serious historians. To do otherwise means that people who make such comparisons have learned nothing from history at all. It is a slippery slope downward into fascism, since it attempts to ignore facts in an effort to fool people into accepting their agendas as if they were factual. The veneer of respectability that shelters professional historians is lost on such people. It is no different than misquoting someone deliberately to make their point for them or lying about one’s sources.
I believe it is high time we demand that our politicians stop abusing the Holocaust for their own misguided purposes and that we do it in legislation. We have suffered enough.