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Obama and the Holocaust


As I have pointed out at greater length, Obama has a very odd view of the Holocaust, at least as reflected in his speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day earlier this month. In that speech, which has much to recommend it, he acted as if the Holocaust was just one more bit of 20th-century nastiness, and, in keeping with his well-known slogan, saw it as a source of hope. After all, he noted, the survivors who made it to America produced a higher birth rate than the Jews who had been here all along. And other Jews created Israel. Both groups reasserted life in the face of the catastrophe they had survived.

He saw hope elsewhere as well:

We find cause for hope as well in Protestant and Catholic children attending school together in Northern Ireland; in Hutus and Tutsis living side-by-side, forgiving neighbors who have done the unforgivable; in a movement to save Darfur that has thousands of high school and college chapters in 25 countries and brought 70,000 people to the Washington Mall, people of every age and faith and background and race united in common cause with suffering brothers and sisters halfway around the world.

Those numbers can be our future, our fellow citizens of the world showing us how to make the journey from oppression to survival, from witness to resistance and ultimately to reconciliation. That is what we mean when we say “never again.”

It may be what he means by “never again,” but most everybody else means “we’re going to act to throttle the next would-be Hitler.” Not “resistance and ultimately . . . reconciliation.” Action, quite possibly military action. But Obama doesn’t talk about military action anywhere in his speech. There is no mention of the Second World War, nor, for that matter, the belated military action that terminated the slaughter in Rwanda, or the decades-long police action in Northern Ireland, and of course no criticism of the total lack of action by the “international community” in Darfur. 

And yet he has the nerve to suggest that we should learn from “our fellow citizens of the world showing us how to make the journey . . . ” Isn’t it the other way round? For if “our fellow citizens” in Europe had had the same willingness to fight evil that we have so often displayed, there wouldn’t have been a Holocaust to remember. But such unpleasant facts would have led him to praise American exceptionalism, and, as we know, he’s not comfortable with such themes.


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