Lies

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman has written an op-ed, “30,000 lies: From Holocaust denial to ‘Camp Auschwitz’,” that I guess was published to coincide with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I say I guess that it was published with that day in mind because the op-ed really isn’t about Holocaust remembrance at all.  Rather, it’s all about condemning former Pres. Trump and his administration.

The “30,000 lies” the rabbi headlines are the 30,573 “false or misleading claims” that the Washington Post says Trump made during his presidency.  It goes without saying that the Washington Post (like the rabbi himself) is a perfectly unbiased judge of which claims are false or misleading and which claims are not, particularly when it comes to claims made by Donald Trump.  Certainly.

To be fair, the rabbi does begin his op-ed with something the Trump administration said about the Holocaust, but what the administration said couldn’t conceivably be construed as Holocaust denial.  That is, it couldn’t conceivably be so construed unless you’re the rabbi, who can take anything Trump says and make it mean whatever the rabbi thinks it means.  (Another example of the rabbi’s anti-Trump distortions is here.)

This is how the rabbi begins:

The 30,573 lies began with Holocaust denial.

Just a week after taking office in January of 2017, on International Holocaust Day, the Trump administration…issued what should have been a routine statement commemorating the Shoah, but whether intentionally or not, someone got it very wrong.

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” the statement read.  “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”

Nice wording…except for the inconvenient omission of a certain people whose name begins with “J.”  Who exactly were these “innocent people?”

Yes, the White House statement of course should have explicitly stated that the vast majority of Holocaust victims were Jews, and that that revealed the primary purpose of the Nazi killing machine: to exterminate the Jewish people.

But, when we’re talking about falsehoods and lies, the assertion that the White House’s statement was a “lie” and “an act of blatant Holocaust denial,” as the rabbi claims, is itself false and a lie.  The White House statement should have identified Jews as the main victims, but nothing in the statement can possibly be construed as denying the Holocaust.

To “remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust” is not to deny that the Holocaust occurred.  No rational person could possibly think otherwise.  The rabbi apparently is so filled with anti-Trump vitriol that he can neither read plain English nor think straight thoughts.

But the rabbi isn’t nearly finished with his rant about Trump’s alleged Holocaust denial.  He goes on (and on):

Holocaust denial is the canary in the coal mine of Orwellian doublethink, the mother of all fake news, in that it not only defies all standards of empirical science and rejects meticulously documented history, which any act of historical denial might do, but, in this case, doing so also attempts to whitewash the greatest moral crime ever perpetrated. (Boldface type in original.)

There is, and there never has been, a greater, more bald-faced lie than the denial of the Holocaust. That fact alone warranted an official, immediate and unconditional White House retraction to its Holocaust Day statement.

This bold-faced diatribe is pretty nearly off the charts.  Nothing in the White House statement that triggered the rabbi could be construed as Holocaust denial — nothing.  And yet, he goes on and on about just that.  The quoted material is not something that could have been written by a careful, thoughtful person.

Donald Trump undoubtedly acted wrongly when he insisted, without any substantial evidence to support his claims, that he had won the presidential election and that he had been unfairly and illegally denied a victory.  For a sitting president to make such claims is unacceptable and wrong, and Trump has been impeached and will be tried by the Senate on a charge related directly to those facts.

But only a fanatic thinks that, if Trump falsely claimed he won the election, that proves that everything Trump or his administration ever said must also be false and a lie.  Nonsense.  Notwithstanding the falsity of Trump’s claim to have won the election, nothing in the White House’s statement of January 2017 could conceivably be construed as Holocaust denial.

When it comes to “immediate and unconditional” retractions, the rabbi ought to be first in line.

About the Author
David E. Weisberg is a semi-retired attorney and a member of the N.Y. Bar; he also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Michigan (1971). He now lives in Cary, NC. His scholarly papers on U.S. constitutional law can be read on the Social Science Research Network at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=2523973
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