January 27, 2007

Auschwitz Liberated!

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by the Russian army.

There are those in the world, like the government of Iran, who would deny the existence of the Holocaust. This is a horrible practice that pushes our limits and love of free speech.

What is Holocaust denial?

Holocaust denial can be traced to two distinct groups which generally include various factions of the far right and certain Islamist extremists.

Neo-Nazi extremism is at the core of a wider racist and xenophobic attack to diminish and minimize the Holocaust in an attempt to resurrect Fascism and Neo-Nazi ideology against religious, cultural, ethnic and racial groups around the world. One of the great catalysts of this resurgence in America is immigration and xenophobia.

To gain political or academic respectability and acceptance, these groups engage in overt and covert activities, from minimizing the "numbers" to outright denial of the Holocaust, in order to reframe the Nazi's greatest crime...the Holocaust of six million Jews. A crime that is indefensible. The most famous Holocaust denier is Mel Gibson's dad.

For extreme Islamists, on the other hand, Holocaust denial is used to further the campaign against Israel, for

to negate the destruction of European Jewry is to remove one of the moral planks on which the foundations of the state of Israel was built; that is, the provision of a refuge for the survivors.’ [of the Holocaust]

Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic not only because of the negative image of the Jew it implicitly depicts, but also because of its direct impact upon the feelings of the Jewish people: it produces immeasurable offense, fear and anger, and can cause those who are directly targeted by the material to feel fearful and intimidated. Holocaust denial is not only offensive to Jews and members of other groups that were victims of Nazi crimes; it is offensive to all who are informed about the facts of the Holocaust. But there is an inherent anti-Semitism in Holocaust denial, although it may not necessarily be obvious or immediately apparent.

To many, Israel was created as a response to the Holocaust. As long as there is an Israel, something like the Holocaust can never happen again. To deny the Holocaust is to deny the foundation for the existence of the country of Israel. And if the foundation is false then the country has no right to exist.

Make no mistake, the attempt to label Zionism as apartheid or to make some sort of connection between the Palestinian territories and concentration camps is done deliberately for two major reasons. The first is to remove European guilt for not doing anything about the Holocaust. They say it is alright that Europeans didn't do anything to help the Jews since they are just as bad as the Nazis. The second is to again deny the legitimacy of the country of Israel. If Israel is not legitimate then clearly its citizens are wrong and should be removed.

The Nuremberg trials documented the realities of the Holocaust with the testimony of victims, soldiers, civilians, Nazi Party members and forensic investigations then and now. The evidence is in, the case has been adjudicated. Consequently, the continued education and commemoration from credible Human Rights organizations and survivor networks of testimonials offer an opportunity for information and continued research into one of the great human tragedies of the 20th century. In several states, schools are mandated to teach about the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial is protected by free speech, but we do have hate speech laws. And Holocaust denial is hate speech. Several European countries have banned Holocaust denial out right.

The Holocaust was a great tragedy and denying it hurts us all.

Brahman Colorado contributed to this piece.

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