Monday, December 11, 2006

Memo to the Simon Wiesenthal Center

There are no facts you can tell the leaders of Iran that they can't google themselves, if they just visited a neighboring country that had unrestricted Internet access. When they hold an event questioning the holocaust the correct response is not to hold an event to "counter it". To do so is to miss the point. When they hold an event such as this they are trying to piss you off. It is not about researching the most well documented event in human history, it is about hating you.

Here are two responses that are better than getting upset.

1. Ask world Jewery to set aside one minute of today yawning. As in - who cares what kind of bigotry they exhibit in Iran. You have to be an upper-East Side New York liberal Bush hater to still find it surprising that Iran hates Jews. When Bush put Iran in the axis of evil, it is because the Irani leadership really are bastards, not because Bush just needed a third country to not like.

2. Piss Iran off yourself. Hold a conference - "Iran, is it really there?" or "Islam - the billion most gullible people on Earth" or if you were feeling charitable "Crisis in the Muslim world: The obvious reason why they have produced no historians of note - ever"

(Be prepared for a few days of rioting)

Even Palestinians will be banned if they are not toeing the party line here. As an old activist once said, if someone calls Jews dogs, would you hold a conference that provided unequivocal proof that dogs have tails, and Jews don't, and dogs bark, and Jews speak a human language, dogs walk on four legs and Jews on two. . .? If someone calls a Jew a dog, they are not making a biological point. If someone challenges the historicity of the holocaust, they are not making a historical point.

The Weisenthal center is dignifying this sort of hatred with a response because they need to show that (1) Iran is not evil in any way that can't be corrected with a simple conference, that this is about ignorance, not hate, and (2) so that the Weisentahl center can claim to actually be doing something about this.

But despite what "education theorists" have been saying for decades, you can't just teach someone something and expect them to be the way you want. Virtues such as those it would take to make Iran our friends have to be inculcated over a long time with the proper upbringing for a whole generation of leaders. This will not start with a conference. A conference shows that you take them seriously - which you shouldn't.

The Weisenthal Center justifies its budget on the grounds that it does something about anti-semitism. Well, perhaps here the best thing to do is nothing. Somethings are just not meant to be taken too seriously. The best way to respond, is to find a disincentive for Iran to do this. It has to be made to be not worth it for Iran, or Iranians. But this is too hard, so the Center is just doing the next best thing, which is actually not a good thing at all.


Erica said...

Hold a conference - "Iran, is it really there?" or "Islam - the billion most gullible people on Earth" or if you were feeling charitable "Crisis in the Muslim world: The obvious reason why they have produced no historians of note - ever"

...this is priceless and wish I would have thought of that myself. I wonder when/if people will ever heed these suggestions.

I, for one, am anxious to see change, and would delight in seeing a swift eradication of this culture which delights in death and destruction.

30 said...

Holding a conference on the historical veracity of the holocaust is about as necessary as explaining to people that Borat’s movie is not, in all actuality, anti-Semitic. But it appears that the SWC and the ADL don’t have anything better to do.

"When approaching this film," the ADL advised, "one has to understand that there is absolutely no intent on the part of the filmmakers to offend, and no malevolence on the part of Sacha Baron Cohen, who is himself proudly Jewish. We hope that everyone who chooses to see the film understands Mr. Cohen’s comedic technique, which is to use humor to unmask the absurd and irrational side of anti-Semitism and other phobias born of ignorance and fear." "We are concerned ... that one serious pitfall is that the audience may not always be sophisticated enough to get the joke, and that some may even find it reinforcing their bigotry."

Are we really worried that there are people out there running around loose who are not “sophisticated enough” to get those jokes? Perhaps we can hold a conference to explain the plot to them.

I guess we have now joined the ranks of the Khazakstanis who are suing Borat for making them look bad (and making themselves look infinitely more ridiculous in the process). The SWC and the ADL need to put more thought into choosing their battles wisely.

M. Martin said...

For a different perspective, there is an article in Slate arguing that we should NOT ignore this conference:

Some excerpts:
"Unfortunately, Iran is serious—or at least Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is deadly serious. Holocaust denial is his personal passion, not just a way of taunting Israel, and it's based in his personal interpretation of history. Earlier this year, in a distinctly eerie open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he lauded the great achievements of German culture and assaulted "the propaganda machinery after World War II that has been so colossal that [it] has caused some people to believe that they are the guilty party." Such views hearken back to the 1930s, when the then-Shah of Iran was an admirer of Hitler's notion of the "Aryan master race," to which Persians were meant to belong. Ahmadinejad himself counts as a mentor an early revolutionary who was heavily influenced by wartime Nazi propaganda. It shows."

"Heckled for the first time in many months by demonstrators at a rally yesterday, Ahmadinejad responded by calling the hecklers paid American agents: "Today, the worst type of dictatorship in the world is the American dictatorship, clothed in human rights." The American dictatorship, clothed in human rights spouting falsified history: It's the kind of argument you can hear quite often nowadays, in Iran as well as Russia and Venezuela, not to mention the United States.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that this particular brand of historical revisionism is no joke, and we shouldn't be tempted to treat it that way."

The URL for the full article is here:

Anonymous said...

let the ADL send people to this conference, seal all the entrances, air ducts etc. drop in some zyclon-B, kill everyone there...and deny it ever happened