Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
personally i think that denying the holocaust is stupid, plain and simple. not only is there enough evidence and documentation present in many forms, including oral descriptions by contemporaries of WW2, but it is offensive to people who had half their aunts and uncles murdered somewhere during that particular time in european history. only deeply ignorant and insensitive people would deny that the holocaust took place.

but that is not the issue, at least not to me.

first issue are the laws against holocaust denial which have been passed in many countries in europe. i am against those laws for many reasons. first of all is that, contrary to marek's assertion, they stifle legitimate debate; as things stand now, the "legitimate" debate is 100% in the hands of those partial to the victims. i only know the austria law ("verbotsgesetz") wherein not only is it forbidden to to sympatize or take part in the nazi party or movement, but any mention of the holocaust other than in terms of deep contrition and awe is verboten. the part about forbidding the nazis goes ok with me, not so the part against comment. the first legitimate question which comes to mind when reviewing that law is, why would anybody want to forbid even the mention of a contrary opinion, as factually or morally wrong it may be ? the effect of these laws is that eventually people who look into the issue will ask themselves what is it that those who passed the laws wanted to hide.

i think that all the counterproductive and immoral "anti holocaust-denial" laws should be repelled. they are every bit as offensive as the turkish law forbidding the mention of the holocaust of the armenians at the begin of last century.

second issue is that in the official holocaust "debate" jews are placed onto a pedestal of salient and exalted uniqueness of victimhood. so why are they "better" victims than, say, the native peoples of the americas, the filipinos, indonesian, palestinians, the russian kulaks, the africans, ... ?

when there is speak of genocide, it almost always defaults to the poor, poor jews, but the issue of these many other past and ongoing genocides is studiously avoided. having been involved in politics myself, i've seen various events and conferences around the issue of human rights hijacked from their original purpose and retasked to lament the many many injustices done to jews alone, to protest the "dangerous dormant anti-semitism" and to urge for more reparations to be paid to the victims of the holocaust (never mind that it was 60 years ago). this brings me to the related ...

third issue, again with the "prohibition of denial" laws. here my issue is that in these laws it is specifically forbidden to deny the jewish holocaust.

          my question: why only them ?

why can't we have laws which put under penalty of jail the denial of ALL genocides and the denigration of their respective victims ? why should belgians be able to deny that their king murdered about 10M people in congo and even still celebrate this (and other) genocides with a giant monument smack in the center of brussels ? or also, why dont we start to own up to the (still ongoing) genocide against the peoples of america during the last 500 years, including restitution of stolen goods to the survivors ? why is this conquest mostly depicted as a noble enterprise ? should not spaniards and english (and others ...) alike be sent to the gallows for mentioning this despicable business in favorable terms ? just asking.

this brings me to my fourth contention: marek asserts

     ... Europe makes racist speech a crime ...

but this is not true (a hint to marek: what is forbidden in europe is not "racism" but specifically to be against jews; racist speech is mostly deterred by way of strong social censorship). AFAIK racism (or racist speech) is not forbidden in europe, but there are some initiatives underway to illegalize "hate speech". if you dont believe me, ask any black person who has been under arrest how he was called by police ("nigger", "bimbo", "monkey" are some examples i know of).

lets look at some examples of racism, up close and personal as they come. among my acquaintances are a black guy from congo who was beaten into hospital by skinheads (culprits never found) and a guy from egypt who has been repeatedly slapped or spat at on the street just because he looks arab (illegal but who cares), i also know black and not-really-white girls who are routinely asked for sex for pay, the white/european women i know have never told me of such disrespect; there are also more subtle ways to be racist than to insult somebody for his/her looks, like not renting out flats to non-european foreigners (legal, seen first-person while helping somebody find a flat), denying blacks entry to a discotheques, not attending brown people in a restaurant, reducing brown and black people to crappy low-pay jobs despite existing qualification far above that - all examples of perfectly legal yet inmoral racist attitudes, all witnessed by me. all these things never happen to jews.

what is forbidden is violence against brown peoples for racist motives, but even in these cases authorities are, lets say, "lazy". and even here violence is forbidden because it is violence, not because it is against not-so-white people. while there is some advance in social mechanisms to curb racism, brown peoples still are discriminated against in all walks of life here in europe, but not so jews.

the treatment of racism by authorities is also interesting: if somebody tries and drags somebody into court and accuses the perp of wronging them for racist motives they'll get laughed out of court, unless it is a high-profile case or the victim is a jew. before jumping on me please check the sentencing records of your favorite jurisdiction. most countries have them online in these days.

fifth issue i have around "holocaust denial" and "anti-semitism" and "racism" is that the terms have become, by abuse, synonym with anybody or any idea not on par with the exalted self-image of jews - the logic goes more or less this way: racism is a less bad form of anti-semitism, anybody who criticizes israel is an anti-semite. thus perfectly legitimate debate - and indignation and disgust - around the deeply injust treatment of palestinians by jews is stifled by way of smearing anybody critical of israels regime of crime as an "anti-semite" and by implication a racist. i wont go into that more than to say that it strikes me as deeply immoral to use the injustices done to someones ancestors to cover their own equally disgusting crimes.

in the end the whole issue of holocaust denial rests on the arguable premise that jews are in some way important, or more important than other peoples. if we take away that aura from the current lopsided debate we'd have the where it belongs, namely a forgotten object of study for historians like so many other disgusting chapters along the history of humanity. participants in blogs, and other media, could finally dedicate their time and energy to more rewarding and constructive debates.

--- the last refuge of scoundrels is in the law ---

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 11:33:34 AM EST

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