M. Giraldi and J. K. Taylor argue from the premise
that "the Holocaust is hardly unique in the 20th century" to the
conclusion that "most invocations of the Holocaust are cynical
and bogus" attempts to "justif[y] special breaks not only for
its survivors, but also for their descendants and co-religionists"
and "to intensify the collective guilt...of America's Christian
majority." However, the Holocaust was unique in one crucial respect:
it was carried out in the heart of Christian Europe, with the
help or acquiescence of most Christians worldwide, and in spite
of the resistance of the rest. Many Christians believe that the
truth of Christianity licenses them to evangelize and otherwise
meddle in other people's lives. The Holocaust is unique in the
archive of brutality because it invalidated that specific belief,
just as the purges of Stalin and the Cultural Revolution invalidated
the moral presumptions of communism.
good has been done in the names of Christianity and communism,
but even more evil, and both failed definitively when history
put them to the test. Understandably, they failed for the same
reason, since Christianity is the prototype of all modern totalitarian
ideologies: They both put ultimate authority over infidels in
the hands of the faithful. The world was once so sparsely populated
and technologically primitive that the damage periodically caused
by such religious foolishness was at least limited if not always
endurable, but today a single misstep can lead literally to global
annihilation. Either we grow up and abandon totalist ideologies
categorically or humankind shall perish. It is only a matter of
time. Western civilization, at least, provides no "safety net."
That is the true lesson of the Holocaust.
this not the real reason Giraldi and Taylor decry "the Holocaust
industry in academia" so loudly? They do not resent being made
to feel guilty; they obviously don't feel guilty at all. They
simply resent the way the Holocaust preemptively discredits traditional
Christian claims to universal authority.
M. Unger, AB'69, AM'71