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November 5th, 2003


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12:40 pm - Caution: free thought and expression of unpopular ideas.
Just a bit of warning: I was thinking today about certain issues. And when I'm thinking, you know I'm dangerous.

Anyway, we were talking about Eastern Europe in my Vampire class today. Apparently, some people couldn't think of 3 ways E. Europe was affected by World War 2. The TA was especially disappointed about the omission of on particular detail that only showed up on about 10 tests out of 200: the Holocaust.

I started off thinking about why it wasn't included. I know it was mentioned in the readings, but it got only two sentences, really. Then I wondered if it was mentioned in class, and I started thinking about why I didn't put it down:

I was writing answers based on the information provided in the class. If the Holocaust was only mentioned in passing in the class, should we have been expected to use that answer on the test, especially when there are other issues that were directly referenced in the class? I know I thought about it, but I didn't think that the answer was suitable due to the amount of importance placed on it in lecture and in the readings.

Of course, all those thoughts are safe. It was the next one that had me worried.

I started thinking about Holocaust deniers. You know: the people who say that there were no death camps, that there was no murder of 6,000,000 Jews, and that really the Jews *were* the problem but that our politically correct society can't admit it. Yeah, those jerks.

Anyway, I couldn't help but think that, to someone who really wanted to look at the events following World War 2 from every angle, he/she would *have* to look at WWII from the idea that the Holocaust never happened. After all, there's enough scholarly (or, shall we say, pseudo-scholarly) work out there on the "lies and myths of the Holocaust" to warrant investigation.

Whether the idea is right or wrong, it deserves a chance to prove its case.

In other words, an historian should look at the Holocaust through the glass of the Holocaust denier in just as unbiased a manner as he/she should look through the glass of a Roman general talking about the Marian reforms to the Legions. It should be afforded the same amount of respect.

This was terribly hard for me to think about. After all, some things are just wrong, right? If we take this tack, then we need to also consider the multitude of books out there by Christian Fundamentalists that discuss New Age religions as cults, and we need to take them seriously.

Now, how could this be useful? It sounds very much like the first step down a long dark road of intolerance and whining.

But it's more than that. The use of non-conventional sources and ideas serves to embolden and enliven our ideas, and to see our own biases and flaws. To look into such things is like looking into a funhouse mirror: what you see is a true reflection of events, but one that has been twisted for another's amusement. While it's frightening to start with, eventually we come to understand how the twists come about, and where the wacko ideas we see come from.

Every idea has a place. Even twisted, misguided and ignorant ones like those of the Holocaust deniers and racists in general. The trick is to use them to expose themselves, or (more importantly) to learn something from them, no matter how disgusting they appear.

Of course, I don't study WWII or modern racism, so my points may be moot. I'm certainly not going to be reading anti-Holocaust literature, because I think it's cracked seven ways from Sunday. But I can't help but think that it's useful in some way.

I'm really disgusted at myself for that last sentence.
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
Current Music: "Last Mango in Paris", -JB

(9 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:anivair
Date:November 5th, 2003 07:12 pm (UTC)
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::sigh:; I wish I didn't agree, but you know I do. Given that I try to be as impartial as possible in al things not related to the UUCE I have to say that I'm at least intrigued by the Holocaust Deniers. And I have Jewish relatives who would smack me for saying so.

My primary issues is somewhere in here: I'm pretty sure the Hollocaust happened. PLenty of people say it did. Just like I'm sure the world series happened. But if someone says it didn't and they say they have evidence to back that claim up, I'd be worthless if I didn't at least look into it, just as I would look into the claim that the world series never happnened. Because while I think i know what happned, I wasn't there myself. Further, you can't counter their argument without understanding it. I have always been of thte devil's advocate oppinion that you don't have to agree with a thing to be able to argue the point with skill. I should have been a debater, perhaps.

Or not because I ramble.

later,
~joe
From:moonversion
Date:November 5th, 2003 07:14 pm (UTC)
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Why be disgusted? One the things about having an open mind is that we have to accept the possibility for other possibilities. That means being open to change. Naturally, I do not think the world view on the Holocaust being the real entity is was/is will ever change. But there are other things that do (slavery, homosexuality...). And in order to be open to those changes, we have to be open to other ones as well.

Besides, it's good to know what the "crazies" are thinking... keeps us on our toes. :)
[User Picture]
From:mlleelizabeth
Date:November 5th, 2003 07:22 pm (UTC)
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IMO you have no need to be disgusted at yourself. I've always thought that beliefs that survive questioning are much stronger and more valid that unquestioned beliefs. I also believe there are lessons to be learned in every bit of information in existence. The trick is to truly be unbiased, and only reach conclusions after examining every bit of available information.

Between you and paradise_city (whom I haven't yet answered), I've had lots of food for thought on my flist today. And that's always a good thing!
From:healing_coyote
Date:November 5th, 2003 07:39 pm (UTC)
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I think you are really brave for writing about this- it is a good thing to be able to look at something from all angles. You are able to analyze something, no matter how personally disturbing, and figure out where others are coming from.

Saying that, it is also very good that you came up with your own conclusions. sarahdipity418 has plenty of information on how the Holocaust "didn't" happen and it might be interesting to look at the illogical nature of the arguments (btw, she does believe it happened!).

Miss ya!
From:freyjasgydhia
Date:November 5th, 2003 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Actually, (my mom would fry me for saying this) we do have to look at why these people believe the things they do and the only way to do that is to put ourselves in their skin... As we have discussed before I believe everyone no matter how slanted their views are should have the right to free speech and freedom of the press. If you or I deny these people their fundamental rights based on the fact we find their views distasteful we are as bad as they are. :(
And that, to me is just as big a crime as the one they attempt to commit by trying to wipe out history and rewrite it. So, I think that what you have said here has a lot of merit. And to think, I was raised Reformed.. (in the reformed jewish faith) My mom would Slay ME! Of course she doesn't agree with how I see the Israel/Palestine situation either.. So go figure..
From:vampyrecandy
Date:November 6th, 2003 06:50 am (UTC)
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I'm gonna have to give the link for this entry to one of my friends ... He's often found talking about this issue (usually in relation to gun control).

I think you guys'd get along- though, you might end up killing each other.

On second thought, that could be a fun fight to watch :-p

In all seriousness... You've brought up some important points- reminds me of an article I read on Monday in the USA Today about Republican students feeling discriminated against on college campuses. Regardless of my personal political beliefs, I need to protect their rights as well. In some circumstances, that is as distasteful as trying to consider the possible validity of the opinion of a Hollocaust denier.
[User Picture]
From:roc441
Date:November 6th, 2003 05:49 pm (UTC)
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Hi. I'm sorry to say this but...I have no Idea who you are. I just found you on my "friend of" list and went...huh? then I read your journal to try and figure it out (I hope you don't mind) but to no avail. On that note (again I hope you don't mind) I am going to throw my two cents in on the subject.
The biggest thing I have had beaten into me in all of the history classes I have taken is that to be objective (especially when you research) You cannot ignore something as big as the academic movement to deny the holocaust and still claim to be objective. I just disagree exactly to what degree. If I was writing a paper that was specifically focused upon the experiences of jews in concentration camps then I would probably only mention it in passing if at all. But if I was writing a paper on the impact of the holocaust (especially if I was focusing upon its impact from 1947-the present then there is no way that I could ignore it and still be objective.
My best guess is that the holocaust denial movement is just the remnants of the ideals nazi party, (I know...not a big surprise) but it would certainly be worth analyzing it to find out why this movement was capable of outlast the fall of nazi germany.
Ok I will stop rambling on your journal seeing as how i don't even know you.
P.S. your narration on the last battle of the roaches cracked me up.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 6th, 2003 06:00 pm (UTC)
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Heh. I found your journal a while ago through styskel and suicidekttn, and I read through it and found ya interesting.

So I added you to the friends list and started seeing what you have to say.

And I like it, so I kept it on and read.

No worries if you aren't interested in putting me on your "friends" list. Heck, as you said, you don't even know me. :) I'm at least 99% positive I've never even bumped into you in real life, and I doubt I've ever met you through any other forum.

To me, friends lists are just convenient ways to read what other interesting people have to day. I don't know lots of people on it :)

I'm glad you enjoyed the bit about the Roaches :)
[User Picture]
From:roc441
Date:November 6th, 2003 06:38 pm (UTC)
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oooo yay! I'm interesting! go me!
I think I shall add you. I was kinda wondering if I had amneisia or something. And the roach thing creeps me out...we just found them in our apartment and went on a cleaning spree.

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