Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
What would folks do if they didn’t have the Holocaust to use as a frame of reference for just about everything they don’t like?
This week the ADL accepted the apology of a major Christian leader – Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – for saying flat out that the Obama administration’s health proposals are just like the Nazis policies toward the elderly. (Read the ADL statement on the incident here).
Land, in a speech to the Christian Coalition of Florida, said this, according to the Religion News Service: “I want to put it to you bluntly: What they are attempting to do in health care, particularly in treating the elderly, is not something like what the Nazis did. It is precisely what the Nazis did.”
Chastised by the ADL’s Abe Foxman, Land said he will “certainly seek to exercise far more care in my use of language in future discussions of the issues at stake in the health care debate.”
Does that mean next time he’ll compare President Obama and the Democrats to Pol Pot instead?
Over on the left, J Street had to cancel the poetry slam at its upcoming national conference because of a scheduled participant who compared the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo to Auschwitz – and wrote “We’re the ones writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza.”
Didn’t they Google this guy’s name?
This week Menachem Rosensaft, the second generation activist and vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, had a piece in the Jerusalem Post on Holocaust comparisons that ends with a couple of good lines:
“The Holocaust was the greatest carnage ever perpetrated. It looms as the epitome of all that is worst in the human condition, and led to the codification of genocide as a crime against humanity. As such, it must be studied so as to prevent future atrocities, not reduced to insensitive, throwaway punch lines.”
Still, Holocaust analogies are the Words of Mass Destruction – and seemingly irresistible to politicians, activists, cranks and extremists of all sorts who want to sucker punch us with rhetoric. It doesn’t help when Jews who should know better do the same thing, apparently in the belief that their own Holocaust analogies are accurate while all others are inappropriate.
It seems to me that the danger here is that the term “Holocaust” is becoming synonymous with “crazy exaggeration.” Not good. Not easy to stop.