Saturday, May 21, 2011

"The Holocaust" v. Genocide

The Holocaust (with an upper case "H") is unique. Such a phenomenon had not occurred prior to or since the happenings of World War II. Comparisons have often been drawn between this horror and previous and subsequent genocides, which, to my mind, are not only incorrect, but serve to diminish the monstrous events carried out by the Germans against the Jews in the 1930's-1940's.

The Holocaust is unique from a number of perspectives: 1) it was perpetrated against an ethnic group that had lived peacefully in Germany since Roman times, had no political objectives, was very "German" in its daily existence (and was actually assimilating), contributed positively to German society and economic growth, expressed some of the same prejudices against "outsiders" as did the non-Jewish German, and was generally supportive of German customs and ideals, 2) it was devised and outlined in a clinical, economic, deliberate, well-constructed strategy that was to achieve its goal using an efficient, cost-effective methodology, in which "by-products" of the process such as hair, skin, teeth inlays, medical trials, and energy produced by crematorium-generated heat were to be used in a profitable manner, 3) Jews could not avoid it by conversion, surrender, cooperation, or any other means, and 4) it was to eventually include all Jews everywhere in the world, basically without exception

Ethnic cleansings typified by the Rwandan genocide, Armenian genocide, and the Bosnian genocide were hardly the same. They were rooted in long-standing tribal and ethnic disputes which included political differences, religious differences, border disputes, possible fifth-column activities, and dissatisfaction of one group with governmental control of a minority over a majority. In none of these genocides was systematic destruction at the level of the "Holocaust" ever reported.

The term "Holocaust" is not the same as the word "holocaust." "Genocide" is not equivalent to "The Holocaust." Chief Justice John G. Roberts, in an unrelated matter, observed in The New York Times of May 21, 2011 that "while the ultimate results may be the same - a dead body..... - it is the means of getting there that attracts notice."

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