Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I have received one of those chain letters that drive me crazy.  Usually I just delete them, but this one got to me.  It starts out praising Eisenhower for ordering photos of Holocaust survivors and then it claims that England is about to take the Holocaust out of it's school curriculum to avoid offending Muslims.  

I agree that the holocaust should never be forgotten.  This misleading mass chain letter, however, is full of inaccuracies.  Here's one of many links I found de-bunking it.

But I suspected it was nuts before I started checking into it.

First of all, the British people themselves suffered deeply during WWII and remain extremely proud of their resistance to Hitler.  They are not going to forget it any time soon.  Additionally, they are still dealing with the emotional scars that resistance caused.  We are more likely to forget it than they are.  

Secondly, this letter conveniently leaves out the millions of powerless people: homosexuals and people with disabilities and other "non-Aryan" qualities, who were also victims of the holocaust. This makes me suspicious that there is an unexpressed agenda here.  Was it okay for Hitler to experiment on them?  Or is it still okay to hate them?  

Thirdly, why would Muslims find Hitler's regime offensive?  The extremist Muslims we are worried about hate Jews more than Hitler did and have more justification.  (I do not advocate jihad, pogrom, holocaust or other forms of feuding.  I'm just saying that the on-going conflict between Israel and the Muslim world is not creating mutual understanding and respect.)  I personally think the whole point of this letter is in the last line where it warns that 9/11 will soon be forgotten because Muslims find it offensive.  Which makes this a not very subtle attack on Muslims.  Is it okay to experiment on Muslims and put them in camps?  If the people in those initial photos were wearing burkas would those photos be just as offensive?  

There is so much anti-muslim propaganda in our world today that it is very difficult to listen to reason.  We only hear about the crazy people.  Who wants to be judged by the crazy people?  As a Catholic, I certainly don't want to be judged by the Inquisition or the tiny number of sick priests.  Religion is a very tricky thing.  

Finally, Ike is famous for many things, not least of which was his warning about the dangers of the "Military Industrial (Congressional) Complex" in his farewell address.  (His original draft said "Military Industrial Congressional Complex" but he struck Congressional out.  His daughter has said it was because he thought it was counter productive to offend Congress.)  Fear and inaccuracies only give that dangerous alliance more power.  The relevant portion of his speech is found here: 

"Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Alert and knowledgeable.  I would add compassionate.  This letter fuels fear of Muslims and supports the Military Industrial Congressional wars against people who do not even have indoor plumbing.  I am in favor of security AND liberty for everyone.  Unfortunately, there is a balance.  Ultimate security can only be found by giving up liberty.  Give up too much liberty and you once again start to lose even security.  I worry that in this country we are letting our fears talk us into surrendering liberty for a false sense of security.  To a large degree, we have surrendered our ability to think rationally to our fears.  We have given our power to the Military Industrial Congressional Complex just as Ike worried we would.  He was a very thoughtful man and I suspect he would be very unhappy to have his reputation attached to this letter.  By fueling our fears of Muslims, this letter empowers the very people Ike warned us about.

Too often these mass mailings I receive do not seem knowledgeable, compassionate or even alert - they just seem ill-informed and scared.  They remind me of Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing":  "He is now as valiant as Hercules who only tells a lie and swears by it."  

Daughter of a scientist here.  My motto is "Check it out."  I will not forward anything on until I have checked it out.  If I do not have time to check something out or if I am not particularly interested in the subject, I just delete it.  This particular one, since it deals with and encourages hate and fear, upset me more than most.  So I decided to respond.

1 comment:

  1. Jack says:

    ... I think you don't quite capture the reasoning on all sides.

    As you recognize, there are extremist Muslims and reasonable ones of many stripes, and likewise Christians and any other faction. The Strident Right today is not above presenting this argument:

    1. The Holocaust was a terrible attack on the Jews
    2. Therefore, the Jews deserve all the protection we can give them
    3. Muslims have sworn to "push Israel into the sea"
    4. Therefore we must fight Muslims

    I hope you realize that I take exception to that line of "reasoning," at around forty-eleven different points. But I've actually heard the line preached.

    Were I a reasonable Muslim, subjected to strident howls of that sort, I think I might be a little uncomfortable about any further discussion of the Holocaust, too.