Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 9, 2005

Faith, Lack of Faith, and the Holocaust

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:14 pm

We often hear — mostly, but not exclusively, from lapsed-but-not-assimilated Jews — comments along the lines of, “I can’t believe in God after the Holocaust.” The argument is basically that, if God is good, He would not have allowed the Holocaust to occur; since it occurred, either God does not exist, or He is not good and is therefore unworthy of our faith.

Putting aside whether this argument is valid or not from a theological perspective, it implies something which those who make the argument never seem to claim. The fact is, even if God allowed the Holocaust to occur, surely He did not directly do it Himself. The roundups, the deportations, and the killings were all done by human beings, with free will to choose between good and evil. Now, what did these people have in common, in addition to their choice for evil?

Well first, it was not nationality; they were not all Germans. Hitler and many of the Nazi leaders were Austrians rather than Germans, though they argued that those were the same thing. But even though the leaders were Germans and Austrians, much of the dirty work was done by others. As Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and others have pointed out, before the camps were set up, much of the killing in Eastern Europe was done by Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and other Slavs, under the supervision of Germans who didn’t want to get their hands dirty (literally, not figuratively — there was a lot of blood, and they had to move a lot of dirt to make those mass graves). And of course, there were Slovaks and Hungarians and French and Croatians and many others who helped with the deportations.

Second, it was not religion. Some were atheists, some were Christians, and among the Christians were Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.

Third, it was not political or even racial ideology: While the German leadership were Nazis and no doubt believed in “Aryan” racial supremacy, the Poles and other Slavic peoples who cooperated could hardly be regarded as being motivated by a racial ideology according to which they were inferior (though not as inferior as the Jews).

Those who perpetrated the Holocaust had, in addition to their choice for evil, one thing in common: They were all Europeans.

So why doesn’t anyone say, “I can’t believe in Europeans after the Holocaust”? Why don’t people who say they can’t believe in God after the Holocaust oppose European unification, which is supposed to lead to renewed European strength, with every fiber of their being? Why don’t they opposed European meddling in the Middle East, which — given that it’s mostly based on opposition to Israel — looks like an attempt to “finish the job” of the Holocaust?

The answer, I think, is that they don’t really disbelieve in God because of the Holocaust. They disbelieve for other reasons — perhaps because life is easier if you don’t need to worry about whether you’re doing what God wants you to do — and the Holocaust provides a convenient excuse. In a sense, it’s even more “useful” for these purposes than atheism: atheism is dependent on the assertion that God does not exist, but with the Holocaust excuse, you can claim that even if He does exist, you don’t have to serve Him.

And that is yet a further tragedy to come from the Holocaust. As if there weren’t enough already.

Louise Woodward is now a lawyer

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:04 am

Remember Louise Woodward? She was the British au pair who was convicted of second degree murder in Massachusetts in connection with the death of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen. She faced a life sentence in prison, but the judge reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter, reduced her sentence to time served (while the trial was in progress) and let her go home to England. Her parents were eventually charged with fraud in connection with her defense fund.

Matthew Eappen’s parents filed a civil suit against her. She didn’t respond, a default judgement was entered, and she didn’t pay.

Well, Louise went back to England, went to law school, andnow has a job as a solicitor at at a British law firm, North Ainley Halliwell. According to Manchester Online, “Louise said her experiences in America – where she was convicted of killing a baby in her care seven years ago – had encouraged her to think about a legal career. “

What an inspiring experience tht was, being charged with murder! And in America, the lawyers are so wonderful, they inspire clients to follow in their footsteps!

Her background was not ignored, by the way — the Law Society held a special hearing and determined ‘she was of “fit and suitable character” to practise law. ‘

She is reported to be specializing in commercial law.

Better that than child welfare law, I guess.

(Hat tip: I first heard about this from The Uncivil Litigator.)

Census Bureau Renames Lake

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:23 am

I’d tell you what they re-named it, but this is a “family” blog….

Dave Barry has left the building

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:50 am

Here’s some sad news. Dave Barry is not going to write his column anymore. His farewell column is here.

I hope he will continue to post to his blog, and maybe even post more substantial items, so I can pretend it’s his column.

(Hat tip: Clayton Cramer.)

Reality, or The Onion?

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:29 am

My brother sent me this, and pointed out that this story would work equally well as a wire service report, or as a story in The Onion. It is, in fact, from the Associated Press:

NEW YORK — An advertising campaign that says the mouthwash Listerine is as effective as floss at fighting tooth and gum decay is false and misleading and poses a public health risk because it can undermine the message of dental professionals, a judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said in a decision signed Thursday and made public Friday that he will order Pfizer, the maker of Listerine, to stop the advertising campaign.

“Dentists and hygienists have been telling their patients for decades to floss daily,” Chin wrote. “They have been doing so for good reason. The benefits of flossing are real — they are not a `myth.’ Pfizer’s implicit message that Listerine can replace floss is false and misleading.”

Pfizer in print ads had featured a Listerine bottle balanced equally on a scale opposite a floss container with the words: “Listerine antiseptic is clinically proven to be as effective as floss at reducing plaque and gingivitis between the teeth.”

I guess letting consumers evaluate the different claims and decide for themselves what to do is not the sort of thing ths judge is willing to contemplate — never mind the First Amendment rights of the Pfizer to tout research favorable to its products.

Interspecies adoption?

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:05 am

I think some key fact has got to be missing from this story.

Powered by WordPress