Thursday, April 14, 2005
German Ruling Says Dresden was a Holocaust
Wait, isn't there a right to free speech? Isn't this just an internal matter of free speech rights for Germans? I don't think so. After all, there are exceptions. It's clear that free speech doesn't include the right to jump up in a crowded theatre and shout "Kill the Jews!" Even rights have limits.
German prosecutors have provoked outrage by ruling that the 1945 RAF bombing of Dresden can legally be termed a "holocaust".
The decision follows the refusal by the Hamburg public prosecutor's office to press charges against a Right-wing politician who compared the bombing raids to "the extermination of the Jews".
German law forbids the denial or playing down of the Holocaust as an incitement to hatred.
So if you can't play it down, then just raise everything else up, until it's all the same height, and nothing's any better or worse than anything else. If PETA can moralize about a holocaust of fried chickens, then all the more so Germans should be allowed to refer to their own Dresden holocaust, right? Since the term actually means so little now.
And that's really what's going on here (and not just here, but there, and there, and even over there as well). Aside from a few cranks, and a large chunk of Israel's putative peace partners, few today deny there was a Holocaust. This inconvenient piece of history is proving very hard to make disappear. But it isn't really necessary to work that hard. No. Really, all you need to do is make the term so meaningless, so globally applicable that when someone says, "Holocaust", everyone just yawns, or asks "Which one?"
Does it matter? Why can't we globalize the term, make it a generic testimony to man's inhumanity to man (and chickens)? Why does it always have to be about the Jews? After so many years, can't they just drop it?
First, let's be clear. It's not the job of the Jews to drop it, or not drop it. It's simply everyone's job not to forget. Jews never wanted it to be about them. They didn't ask for this, like some conventient wedge issue to extort a political windfall.
More importantly, current events bear out the continuing particular Jewish importance of the Holocaust. It doesn't appear likely that the present generation of Germans is likely to rise up and slaughter its few remaining Jews. Nevertheless, Germans must not minimize the stigma of attempting genocide, not while new candidates rise to take their place.
And make no mistake, calling Dresden a holocaust makes it all the easier for others to consider trying once more to wipe out the Jews. We live in an age when Arab leaders indoctrinate their people to believe there wasn't a Holocaust--or that at least what happened in Jenin is equivalent. Meanwhile, they strive to obtain nuclear weapons, and threaten to incinerate the entire Jewish state.
I suspect the Arabic dictionary doesn't include the word irony.
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