Monday, April 22, 2013

A Time to Teach and a Time to Kick Then in their Teeth

Many of you are still mad at me that I make no quarter for Holocaust deniers, thinking that what these folks need is just good plain patience and reasoning, someone sitting down and holding their hands and explaining to them calmly and serenely that the Holocaust happened, and that it was not the fault of the Jews.

Maybe this will help explain my position.  It's from an email I sent to a Facebook friend.

There is at the root of antisemistism something that's not able to be educated, in my opinion. When a Facebook commenter says, "The Jews elected every president since WWII and the Jews assassinated JFK," there's nothing to say to "educate" that man except addressing the demon he's dancing with, "Get thee behind me, Satan." 
Take yesterday. I'm on the fence on gun control. But three anti-gun-control commenters said the following:
1. Gun control is a violation of the Tenth Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods."
2. The state has no authority to regulate arms because the state owns nukes.
3. "No pencil pusher is gonna tell me what my self-defense needs are."
Now at one point I was naive enough to think such clowns could be educated, that if we took the time we could show them the errors of their ways. But this is the internet and they are just idiots.
There is good faith and bad faith. When Paul says "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith", he is saying at least that without a good faith effort to approach an issue, no deeper faith can get in. 
This does not mean that people of good faith should not be educated. However, when it comes to the bigots who are willful bigots, well, if they resist education, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them and move on.

Could I be wrong about this?  Of course, but I've been on the internet enough now to spot red flags when I see them.

Take today on Facebook.  A friend is hailing the book Silence, which is about Catholics in Japan.  A commenter gets offended and says the book is horrible and anything but Catholic.  Intrigued, and having not read the book, I ask for reasons why the book is not Catholic in this commenter's opinion.  He says it's because the main character "apostasizes" (renounces the Faith).  "In what way does he apostasize?" I ask.

"He apostasizes apostasizes," he answers.  "I'm not going to discuss this with you further."

Well, after a few hours, other commenters noted that the main character is forced to apostosize under severe and unrelenting torture of himself and his friends.

So he hardly "apostasizes apostasizes" - in fact such a forced recantation might not be apostasy at all.

But I saw this guy waving the red flag, the red flag of "All depictions of sin are in themselves sinful!" and so I egged him on, and in his impatience and defensiveness he revealed that I was right.

At any rate, dear readers, I admit my response to some of these people and issues may strike you as judgmental and harsh, but only good faith should be met by good faith.

Bad faith should be met by moving on.


Benjamin. said...

I still don't see the Holocaust deniers as "hateful." Certainly some/many of them hate jews, but I cannot find it NECESSARILY hateful.

It would be POSSIBLE for somebody to genuinely not believe the Holocaust happened, even if that person was not antisemetic. It may be that antisemitism is at the core of the issue, the primary drive of decieving people. But it does not mean everybody decieved is hateful. Some people simply lack the critical thinking skills to recognize the validity of obviuous historical events.

Those are not the reasons most anti-gun-control people use for arguing against gun control. It almost always comes back to self-defense. I have found no evidence that gun control brings down violent crime. Usually such claims are done by going country to country which is ridiculous as many things change country to country unrelated to that particular legislation. One must look at a single country at a time. If I recall correctly, there was no significant change in gun crimes before and after gun control legislation in Britain.
As it so happens, you present no arguments here yoursel.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin: I personally know no holocaust deniers that aren't also antisemitic. You point out that it may be possible that one who denies the holocaust may not be antisemitic, but frankly, in the real world I find that so unlikely as to be preposterous. Why? The absolutely stunning amount of evidence showing that the holocaust happened leads me to conclude that those who deny this evidence must have an agenda for doing so. I refuse to associate with those who, seeing the evidence, choose not to acknolwledge the Shoah.

On gun violence: for the most part gun deaths in the US are staggering when compared with other nations, even nations that have lots of guns, like Canada. You are wrong about England (I used to live there). Gun crime there is minuscule when compared to here, even when allowing for the size of the population. For the best arguments against gun control I recommend Reason magazine... For it I recommend America magazine (which is a bit extreme as they called for repeal of the 2nd Amendment)

Benjamin. said...

the reason some people deny the Holocaust is because they're paranoid. Not everybody is smart or even mentally stable. I'm sticking with my guts which says they are simple mentally unstable people who need help. Somebody has to help them, they are humans too. If everybody disowns them the deniers will congregate and breed their paranoia.

As for gun control, you used the argument I SPECIFICALLY said was silly. Going from country to country DOES NOT PROVE that gun control helped, it changes multiple conditions.
I did not say that Britain did not have less gun crime, I said and I will repeat:
"If I recall correctly, there was no significant change in gun crimes before and after gun control legislation in Britain."

Benjamin. said...

Kevin, in every argument I have heard you make, you assume some prior knowledge in the minds of your opponents. Isn't it possible that the Holocaust deniers simply haven't been taught? We don't live in a perfect world, many people are confused. We live in a society that produces irrational paranioa. Show the deniers your evidence. You say "A time to teach". So you must teach.

Once again, it is easy to say "They must have a secretly hateful reason." The deniers have serious mental disabilities. Have you never met such people? Are you really unaware of the growth of severe incompotence in basic critical thinking? What about the people with stupid economic ideas, are they secretly evil and trying to raise the national debt? What about people who think the earth is flat, are they secretly planning to fool people so that everybody gets scared and thinks they'll fall off? What about people who have trouble with short-term memory, are they secretly pretending to have short term memory so that other people will help improve living conditions? There are a large number of mental conditions which cause people to have trouble thinking. That does not mean we get to pick the easy way out and say "Well... he must be evil! I don't need to talk to him! It is a waste of time! Hateful!" Once again, this may be the MAIN reason for the paranioa, but there are people who fall for everything, and I want to help them, not simply throw them out and forget them.

Anonymous said...

You should really read Silence. It is extremely thought-provoking. The Jesuit priest ultimately tramples an icon of Christ, thus signifying apostasy, but in doing so he alleviates the tortures of his flock. It's also worth noting that the icon "speaks" to him, saying: "Trample! Trample! It is to be trampled on by you that I am here." As I said, thought provoking.


Joey Higgins said...


Are you referring to a different post where Kevin calls Holocaust deniers hateful - or is antisemitism synonymous with hatred? Seems that the example you give of having, "mental issues," doesn't mean one isn't hateful and suffering from an illness. Claiming that people may have a mental issue isn't much better than claiming someone is hateful, in many respects it's much worse: you don't agree or understand this, so you have mental issues and need "help."

(No longer commenting on you, Benjamin): This Holocaust/antisemitism harboring is important to stamp out. If people don't, it can and should be assumed that they are okay with the antisemitism. Similar is how we don't hear very much about Muslims decrying acts of terror. There have been some and I'm sure some haven't been reported, but majority wise and government wise, they are implicitly approving attacks on the US/citizenry. It's arguable if the US has earned these attacks with our foreign policy, but it should be clear (I think) that the lack of denouncing is an approval of that behavior.

Deacon Nathan Allen said...

Yes, Kevin, you should read Silence, but I think a lot of people do not understand it. They fall into the facile trap of thinking the protagonist's apostacy is just in name and not reality; but they're the same sort of people who think Lolita is about a teeenager who willingly has sex with an older man. Both stories are told from the protagonist's perspective, and he in both cases is self-delusional. Read it, and we'll talk.

aly said...

If you don't publish this comment I understand why, I think. Do you countenance "Holocaust Minimizers"? That is that the Holocaust has been exaggerated and ever after been used as a tool in many cases a bludgeon to further Jewish interests? Do you consider any/all Minimizers un-educatable clowns? I don't know who claims Jews killed JFK. I suppose it's a Jewish-Communist Connection. But the U.S. was supplying Israel with weapons. Israel was very pleased. Arabs were very displeased.

Adolfo said...

Sweeping gun control legislation worked in Australia.