A Rule Made to Be Broken?

by Jay Nordlinger

Ethan Gutmann has written a book called “The Slaughter.” The title is stark, and apt as well. The book is about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China — specifically, the “harvesting” of them by Communist authorities. These authorities kill practitioners for their organs. Sometimes they “live-harvest” them — that is, they injure them, then harvest the organs, then finish the victims off. The fresher the organ, the better for the transplant recipient, of course.

I wrote about Gutmann’s book in a recent NR. That piece is available on our homepage today (here). I would like to emphasize one point here in the Corner.

We have long had a rule against comparisons to the Nazis. (When I say “we,” I mean the civilized world.) Nazism is the ne plus ultra of evil, certainly of political evil. The rule is not a bad one — though it is violated every day, especially by people who compare Israel to the Nazis. Israel is a democratic state. Yet probably no state is as frequently compared to the Nazis — including North Korea, Syria, and Cuba.

The problem with the rule prohibiting comparisons to the Nazis is that some things are actually like the Nazis. In China, they separate prisoners by “harvestability.” In some camps, you have a better chance of surviving if you’re old and sick. If you’re young and healthy, your organs are desirable.

This separation of prisoners: Does it not recall Dr. Mengele and his clinic?

In states I mentioned previously — North Korea, etc. — there is ample Nazi-like behavior. We should probably be able to say so. Yet the prohibition is felt, in some of us.

I suppose I think the following: that the rule against comparisons to the Nazis is basically good, as there is so much false comparison, and cheap comparison. Still, we are sometimes entitled to think, “Dammit, this smacks of the Nazis.” I had just this feeling — particularly regarding Mengele — while reading Ethan Gutmann’s book. (In an epilogue, he addresses this very issue.)

There is much more to say, of course — volumes more to say — but I’m just doing blogposts here.