Politics & Policy

Nonviolence Nonsense

Gandhi, again.

Those who do not necessarily associate the name Gandhi with either humanitarian brotherhood or wisdom, and those who remember Mahatma’s idiotic thoughts about those facing the Holocaust ought to examine the latest Gandhi take on “the Jews” in the online edition of the Washington Post, this time from one Arun Gandhi.

He is self-identified as the “President and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence” and “the fifth grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi. He is president and co-founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, now at the University of Rochester in New York.”

In the Post, he writes:

The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful. But, it seems to me the Jews today not only want the Germans to feel guilty but the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews. The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on the regret turns into anger… We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity…

Everything in that brief excerpt alone is untrue for the following reasons:

1. The Holocaust was not just Hitler and a few SS “followers”; rather, it involved millions of followers (some of whom were active, some of whom were passive) in a systematic and near successful genocide of an entire people.

Neither Hitler, nor Himmler, nor Goebbels, nor any of the Nazi hierarchy could have wrought what they did without millions of German non-party guards, railroad employees, informants, and clerks and bureaucrats in the industry of death. Tragically this complaisance did not happen over night, but was prepped by years of National Socialist indoctrination that systematically and incrementally whipped up centuries old anti-Semitism by blaming — take note here, Mr. Gandhi — “the Jews” as being the “biggest players” in the world’s violence and problems.

2. Gandhi makes an incredibly asinine suggestion when he says, “But, it seems to me the Jews today not only want the Germans to feel guilty but the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews.”

Should the whole world not “regret” what happened to the Jews? Maybe sorta, kinda regret it? Are the Germans not supposed to feel guilty about the loss of six million under their auspices? And if all this should not be, as Gandhi implies, then is his assumed antithesis then correct?

To illustrate, try this counterfactual: “But it seems to me the Jews today should not only not want the Germans to feel guilty, but the whole world must not regret what happened to the Jews.”

3. “The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on the regret turns into anger.”

Creating an autonomous, self-sufficient nation, as well as the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, seems to qualify as both forgiving and moving on. Yet after five major wars against Israel since 1947, it is apparent that its neighbors can neither forgive its creation nor move on to accept its existence.

And what exactly does “regret turns into anger” mean? Is it anger such as blowing up civilians through suicide attacks, rocketing day-care centers from ‘liberated’ Gaza — or writing puerile, half-educated homilies, like Gandhi’s, from a “nonviolence” center on an American college campus?

4. “We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.”

Despite the scare capitals, I doubt whether Israel and “the Jews” are “the biggest players.” All one has to do is tally up the numbers murdered in the last decade in India, Pakistan, Rwanda, Darfur, Somalia, Nigeria, Congo, Chechnya, the Balkans, (and the list goes on), and discover that “the Jews” are pretty much bit players. If Mr. Gandhi disputes that, then let him produce evidence that shadowy “Jews” or “Israel” were, in fact, involved in the above various slaughters.

If the “Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity,” then I suggest such an assumed Armageddon most likely will begin either along the India/Pakistan border where two nuclear-armed countries share an existential hatred of each other — or it will emanate from Iran, which has promised to wipe out Israel. Clearly, Mr. Gandhi could do far more for world peace by leaving the University of Rochester and proselytizing against violence in the field, perhaps either in Waziristan or Teheran.

Moreover, it is worth noting, had anyone on a university campus written anything comparable about “the Arabs” and Islam, there would very likely be outrage rather than the present silence.

In this regard, one should remember that Gandhi primus offered to almost everyone from the British to the “Jews” his wisdom of nonviolent resistance to Hitler, suggesting that the slaughter might be a valuable lesson in humanitarian martyrdom. But then his own modalities were put into practice against a post-Victorian liberal Britain, not the Third Reich or Stalin’s collectivization project.

To put Arun Gandhi’s present musings in proper context, I leave you with an excerpt, somewhat similar in spirit, from his grandfather’s famous 1938 essay, “The Jews,” offering advice to the Jews of Germany about how to achieve “joy” (note the key counter-factual “If I were…”) through mass annihilation.

If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the godfearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.

It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription.

It is commonplace to compare our present complaisance about the dangers of radical Islam to the liberal democracies’ past failure to galvanize against the creed of fascist Europe. Much of what has been written since 9/11 (one can also compare the naiveté of Mr. Arun Gandhi on that as well) is both dangerous and silly — but no more so than what was offered up in the late 1930s.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

-Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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