Shia Altman

Defining genocide down

The late, former United States United Nations ambassador and Democratic senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, coined the phrase, “defining deviancy down” as a title in an intellectual article for the The American Scholar magazine in 1993. (The article can also found here, in the US Senate Congressional Record, search for Defining Deviancy Down.)

Using sociological studies, Moynihan postulated that as crime became more prevalent for whatever the reason – be it the breakdown of family structure, criminal behavior for money or for its own sake, what was once deviant, what was once unaccepted and societally abnormal as it should be, had become “normalized.” So much heinous activity for so long leads to a breaking point where accepted norms are lowered to meet a new reality.

Moynihan proposed, after a sociological study claiming, “the amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize,’ that accordingly, we have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard.”

And so it has become with what should be for all, the “third rail” of political conflation, genocide, specifically the Holocaust.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day has just passed, and yet, the most vicious crime of all has been disgracefully cheapened for political purposes, and political posturing. As a child of Holocaust survivors, I find this completely reprehensible.

It is nothing new for people on one side, usually many on the far left, to call those on the other side, “Nazis” or “Hitler.” Those on the right, even the moderate right and center – still far to the right of the far left – have regularly been called the worst names, names that harken back to the darkest time in history, when inhumanity and indifference reigned, that nightmarish time still in recent memory.

This name-calling has become a shameful, kneejerk leftist dystopian mantra. Somehow, all is so bad to the point of actual genocide.

Need I remind anyone what happened during the Holocaust? Jews and others, but particularly Jews, innocents with nowhere to escape, were rounded up in an uncaring world into concentration camps.

And they were stripped of all dignity, and stripped of their lives, millions – including one and a half million Jewish children – shot, gassed, even burned alive, and cremated into ashes as if they were refuse, in a state-sponsored systemic way. People were forced into being experimental guinea pigs, and they or their bodies were used in the most unspeakable fashion. Shall I go on?

In today’s society, we find judges on talent competition shows regularly using Sophie’s Choice – a movie about a mother in a concentration camp forced to choose which of her two children was to be murdered and which would be a slave, as why it is difficult to decide the television show winner.

Columnists in respected mainstream publications regularly use “Hitler” and “Nazi” and do their utmost to convince their readers of a coming Hitlerian Armageddon led by Donald Trump and his cabinet and advisors.

World leaders, the Hollywood elite – if they didn’t have a megaphone, I wouldn’t care as much, and countless insensitive, caring-only-about-their-own-political-agenda social media leftists, contribute to the “He is Hitler!” “They are Nazis!” histrionics.

It is bad enough when those not touched in any familial way by any Holocaust loss bandy about sensitive terms, names and symbols as easily as they breathe, but it is especially disheartening when Jews are so flippant about their people’s recent past, let alone the centuries of suffering, or they actually use their religion or background as an acceptable excuse to brand those with whom they politically disagree as World War II identified murdering fascists.

“I am Jewish myself, so it’s OK to call him that.” “I am a Zionist and I love Israel, so I have the credibility to make that comment.” “My grandmother was in a concentration camp, so I can make the comparison.” “Hitler!” “Nazi!” “Hitler!” “Nazi!”

As proof the over-the-top epithets and chest-thumping are political is the fact that the cause of the whole refugee/immigrant problem, the butchery of Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad as well as ISIS, caused no revolt by the same thousands who now angrily protest the Trump administration’s immigration/travel ban, which I personally am against, by the way.

Where was the crying, the screaming, the blocking of roadways, the solidarity with Muslims, etc. when hundreds of thousands were allowed to be murdered by bombs and chemicals, and millions became refugees dangerously navigating the seas and the terrains of Europe, the refugees who are now trying to become this country’s immigrants?

The tragedy of Aleppo, culminating in a calamitous conclusion only a month ago, was the perfect example of true war crimes, the criminals being Assad and Vladimir Putin. But it was Barack Obama from the beginning of the Syrian conflict, “red line” and all, who turned away from the slaughter, and I ask, what is worse? What President Trump is doing or what Obama had done, or should I say, not done?

Perhaps we would not be where we are today had action been taken. But Obama was a hero to the left, too squeamish to do anything militarily anyway, so as people were slaughtered, the silence of so many on the left was deafening.

Now? Hitler! Nazis!

Guess what? For reasons too obvious to the politically visually-impaired, as heartrending as the refugee situation is, it is just not the same as the Jews trying to escape the real Nazis during World War II. It is not.

For those of you who hate Donald Trump and Republicans or anyone else with whom you vehemently disagree, call your political opponents names if you wish. I do. But there is one name and one crime for which there is no parallel. Period.

It is repugnant to so cheapen mass murder as many are doing. It is objectionable to be so glib as to destigmatize the Holocaust and define genocide down.

I hope at least you, the Jewish disrespectful left, when you write and when you post, will think about these last words. If the following applies to you, that you respect Jewish values, and you love the State of Israel, you cannot, you must not, cheapen, trivialize and degrade the worst genocide in history, because you also degrade yourselves, and the rest of us trying to protect the singular horrific uniqueness of the Shoah.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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