That the horrendousness of the Holocaust is receding with time was evident this past Holocaust Remembrance Day, when a Kentucky newspaper, the Courier-Journal, featured an op-ed by the paper’s five opinion writers contending that Jews “do not have a monopoly on persecution and atrocities” and that “Hitler was just one of many dictators.”
The writers asserted that the annual marking of the Holocaust should be repurposed as a memorial to “every genocide.”
There have, of course, indeed been many mass killings even in recent decades. Millions starved or were murdered in the former Soviet Union; and millions more perished in conflicts in places like Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Darfur.
But, likewise of course, the Holocaust is in a class of its own.
Not only did it consume approximately two thirds of European Jewry, but it did so in an unprecedented systematic manner.
Holocaust historian Professor Yehuda Bauer has noted the similarities between the Holocaust and other genocides, yet he, too, concedes the uniqueness of the former. Among his arguments for that proposition is his observation that other attempts at genocide or mass murder have been rationalized by some economic, political, tribal or military concern.
The Nazi targeting of Jews, however, he stresses, with its Endlösung der Judenfrage—“the final solution to the Jewish question”—was in its essence “ideological.” Yes, the Nazis and their henchmen stole the homes and possessions of the Jews they murdered, but that seizing of Jewish assets, Professor Bauer explains, was “a corollary to murder, not its cause.”
Add to that the fact that Jew-hatred itself is unique, having infected the world in myriad, varied forms virtually since there were Jews; and add, as well, the fact that mindless Jew-hatred persists even in our current “enlightened” age.
And it persists not just among Islamists, black nationalists and white supremacist militias, but even among some superficially wholesome Americans who don’t stand out in any way but go about instilling hatred of Jews in their children quietly but effectively.
Last month, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, parents who are part of a thousands-strong homeschool network, “Dissident Homeschool,” downloaded and opened a lesson plan that began: “As Adolf Hitler wrote…”
The lesson, as one might imagine, didn’t extol the civil rights leader.
The existence and scope of the network was revealed in a Vice Media report that included the fact that the Ohio couple who established it and who go by the the aliases “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon” described how their family celebrated Hitler’s birthday by baking a “Führer cake” and learning about pre-war Germany. Mrs. “Saxon” added that she had baked “quite a few swastika items, my latest a swastika apple pie.”
Mom and apple pie.
In a social media posting, now deleted, the couple shared an audio message of their children shouting “Sieg Heil!”
The members of the group openly embrace Nazi ideology and use racist and anti-Semitic slurs freely, extolling Hitler and other Nazi leaders as role models and quoting them regularly.
The anti-fascist research group Anonymous Comrades Collective identified the “Saxons” as Logan and Katja Lawrence of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. One of the assortment of clues pointing to the Lawrences was their mention of owning a German Shepherd called Blondi—which was the name of Hitler’s dog. Researchers found photos that Mrs. Lawrence had posted on Facebook of herself and Blondi and, through a dog license website, were able to confirm the animal’s ownership.
Later, on a neo-Nazi podcast called “Achtung! Amerikaner,” Mrs. Lawrence described the “rough time” she had finding Nazi-approved school material for [her] homeschool children.” A problem she unfortunately managed to solve.
“We have our children’s best interest at heart,” she explained. “We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi.”
And Katja insists that she and her fellow neo-Nazis are just “a nice group of wholesome white people getting together for cookouts and such.”
A metaphorical image conjured in my mind is of Holocaust memory as a tall tree, whose trunk “universalizing” woodpeckers is eroding bit by bit while, below the ground, a deep rot of mindless hatred quietly spreads, infecting its roots.
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