Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hate Linked to Hate: Holocaust Denial and Other Forms of Hatred

Why care about those who deny the Holocaust and about anti-Semitism? As I've noted in the comments section of this blog recently, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have done extensive research on connections between Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, and other forms of hatred in contemporary society.

Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism link to racism, homophobia, anti-immigrant movements, and other movements targeting the most vulnerable in our midst. The groups using Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism as wedge issues are seeking to stir hatred: this is their primary goal. The object of the hatred--the particular group targeted--is not as important to these groups as is their ability to stir social hatred.

For those interested in reading more about this subject, I highly recommend Mark Potok's Voices on Antisemitism podcast series at the website of the U.S. Holocaust Museum (www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/antisemitism/voices/transcript/?content=20070621). This series links to other valuable resources for understanding and combating anti-Semitism.

Potok is the Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence project. Some excerpts from the 21 June 2007 introduction to his podcast series:

Antisemitism is quite central to the ideology of these [hate] groups. I think that as a practical matter, especially in this country, which historically has had lower levels of antisemitism than most European countries, Holocaust denial has been absolutely critical to growing the movement. However, it's seen quite cynically by many of the people in the movement. In other words, what you will frequently hear out of neo-Nazi groups like the Aryan Nations was, "The Jews lie, of course; there never was a Holocaust. But by the way, if there was, it's a good thing anyway and there ought to be another one coming." They claim it didn't happen, but they really like the idea and essentially promote it themselves.
I think the classic antisemitic stereotypes work very well in a lot of ways for that kind of generalized resentment. You know, it's this idea of "the Jew" as a person who is a sort of stateless, cosmopolitan person who has quite other interests at heart than the interests of the society in which he or she lives. You know, these are people who are married only to their financial interests. They care nothing for the kind of heart and soul of the real people, the kind of natives of whatever country it is we're talking about.
But more and more the large majority of hate groups in this country have essentially been Nazified. In other words, more and more and more of these groups, I would argue a real majority of them, say, "Yes, we hate black people. Yes, we hate brown people. We're not fond of gay people. But behind them all lies the Jew." You know, the sort of clever, manipulating Jew who is kind of running these people, these various other groups, especially racial groups, as part of some kind of campaign to weaken the quote unquote "host society," to destroy, you know, what's seen as a white Christian country, certainly in the United States.

As Rev. James Martin noted recently on the America magazine blog, "At this time, it is important to remember that in official Catholic teaching anti-Semitism is a sin, and, in the words of Pope John Paul II, an 'evil' (www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=2D6AFB07-1438-5036-4F1C9D841C32199D).