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Departments:
In rebuttal

image: Letters headerAbout the only positive thing about the letter entitled "Holocaust as political industry" is finding that Pat Buchanan did not attend the University of Chicago. Until I read the authors' names at the end, however, I was certain that Buchanan did write this letter, as it closely mimicked his ignorance and anti-Semitism. As a graduate of the College and the University's medical school, I am saddened to find that two alumni could write such mindless drivel.

Giraldi and Taylor decry what they see as a "Holocaust industry" in academia, publishing, and Hollywood. They state that the Holocaust was invented as a means to justify Israel and "intensify the collective guilt on the part of America's Christian majority...." The last time I checked, the Holocaust was not invented by Steven Spielberg. The Holocaust was planned, designed, and implemented by the Nazi regime in Europe, aided and abetted by countless ordinary civilians who believed that ridding Europe of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and Communists was a worthwhile enterprise. Moreover, isolationists in this country contributed to the end result, as exemplified by America's indifference towards the refugees on board the SS St. Louis and the pro-Fascist speeches of Father Coughlin in the 1930s. Perhaps if the authors were hunted, crammed into freight cars, and dumped in death camps, they would have a little more understanding of the callousness of their words. And if my co-religionists and I are entitled to "special breaks" because of the Holocaust, I've been sadly kept in the dark all these years about the entitlements apparently owed to me.

Giraldi and Taylor indicate that there is some sinister motive in reminding the world to never forget the Holocaust. Again, they possibly never read anything by Santayana during their formative years, something to the effect that "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." But maybe because the Holocaust was not part of their heritage, they don't find it relevant to their lives. By extension, I suppose the authors would be angered when Native Americans appropriately remind Americans that the "Christian majority" wiped their ancestors off the face of the earth through acts of genocide.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (one of those "memorials trying to make concrete what might otherwise become dated and ephemeral"), draws constant parallels to the genocide in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the mass murders in Kosovo. The point is that the Holocaust is not an isolated phenomenon, and unless we remind the world, it can and will happen again. The reason why the Holocaust "has become the paradigm for modern-day genocide" is because it serves as such a grandiose example of how a "civilized" country can brutally expunge 6 million people in an efficient, sadistic fashion.

Rather than criticize Elie Wiesel for not speaking out against Israel's transgressions against the Palestinians, a more constructive statement would have been to acknowledge that there have been evils on both sides of the Arab-Israel conflict. Regardless, that does not negate the tragedy of the Holocaust, and merely raises the suspicion that the authors have their own prejudices regarding Jews and Israel.

I do agree that the world needs to increase their attention with regard to atrocities that occur in the Third World. But it does not logically follow that journalistic myopia is the fault of those of us who remember the Holocaust. I would also agree with the authors that the word "holocaust" can be misappropriated into a "political weapon." The anti-choice movement is particularly fond of doing this as they selfishly attempt to interfere with a woman's right to choose. Something tells me, however, that Giraldi and Taylor are not on my side for that subject, either.

David B. Toub, AB'83, MD'87
Lansdale, Pennsylvania

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  DECEMBER 1999

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