Thursday, 29 January 2009

On the Holocaust ** updated

I received a comment which I don't propose to put up wanting to continue the Holocaust debate (given that I had already indicated that this topic was pretty much closed), and claiming Williamson was 'set up'.

I was tempted to just ignore it altogether, but some helpful materials on this subject popped into my email box this morning from Sandro Magister, including some comments from the Pope at a General Audience this week, and an article from L'Osservatore Romano.


Was Williamson set up? Give me a break. Firstly the man has been totally consistent in expressing his loopy views on this and other subjects over a long period of time. Secondly, anyone who does media interviews should either know what they are doing or get some training on how to do them. If they can't work out how to avoid answering questions they don't want to answer, don't go on camera!

The man's comments managed to completely sabotage what was always going to be a tricky public relations exercise and deserves no sympathy whatsoever. I'm with Damian Thompson on this: the sooner Williamson goes off and joins the SSPV or forms his own little schism the better it will be for the rest of the SSPX. That said, prayers for someone's conversion are always appropriate.

**Latest reports say that Bishop Willimason has written to the Pope to apologise for his reckless statements. So perhaps everyone's prayers on this subject are having an impact...


Secondly, the commenter raises the question of what constitutes anti-semitism. Now I admit that this is a complex question, given that there are nuances around differences between anti-semitism and anti-zionism and so forth. All the same, let me give you a little catechism dear reader.

In the case of the 'isms' - anti-semitism, racism, anti-Americanism etc, the issue is arbitrarily lumping a whole group of people together and tarring them with the same brush. Whether you choose to use the term 'hate' or 'dislike' is irrelevant in my view - the fact is that you are making a judgment that is almost certainly based on at best simplistic generalizations or more likely caricatures of reality.

It is alright to dislike or even hate things individuals or groups of people do or say. We can hate or dislike ideas, things or places.

And sometimes we do talk about 'disliking' someone as a kind of shorthand when we really mean that I hate something in particular (or quite a few things) that x says or does.

But we actually do have a duty to love our neighbour whoever they are - remember the saying 'love the sinner, hate the sin' (not to mention that pesky commandment)?

The Pope on the Holocaust

Note also the Pope's comments this week:

"In these days during which we commemorate the Holocaust, I am reminded of the images that I encountered on my repeated visits to Auschwitz, one of the concentration camps in which the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews took place, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hatred.

As I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our Brothers who were the recipients of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Holocaust may induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.

May the Holocaust be for all an admonition against forgetting, against denial or reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, as a well-known poet wrote.

May the Holocaust especially teach to both the old and the new generations that it is only the laborious journey of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness that leads the peoples, cultures, and religions of the world to the desired destination of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again humiliate the dignity of man!"

Anti-semitism and holocaust denial

Finally there was an excellent article on this in the January 26-27 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano" by Anna Foa:

"Denial of the Holocaust is not an historiographic interpretation, it is not a school of interpretation of the Nazi extermination of the Jews, it is not a radical form of historical revisionism, and it must not be confused with this.

Holocaust denial is a lie that covers itself with the veil of history, that takes on a scientific, objective appearance, in order to cover up its true origin, its true motivation: antisemitism.

A Holocaust denier is also an antisemite. And in a world like that of the West, where it is not easy to call oneself an antisemite, he may be the only clear and evident antisemite. Anti-Jewish hatred is at the origin of this denial of the Holocaust, which began in the early years after the war, linking itself intellectually to the very project of the Nazis, when they covered the traces of the extermination camps, razed the gas chambers to the ground, and mocked the deportees, telling them that even if they were able to survive, no one in the world would believe them.

Denial of the Holocaust cuts across political boundaries, it is not linked only to the Nazi extreme right, but embraces different tendencies: the most extreme pacifism, anti-Americanism, hostility to modernity....

Denial of the Holocaust applies itself in particular to demonstrating that the gas chambers did not exist, through complex technical arguments: they wouldn't have worked, they would have needed extremely tall chimneys, and so on....

Today, denial of the Holocaust is considered a crime in many European countries, although part of public opinion remains wary – as does this author – of turning liars into martyrs by putting them in prison.

Finally, there is no lack of those who support denial of the Holocaust as part of opposition to Israel. It must be repeated, however, that there is only one motive, one intention, behind denial of the Holocaust: antisemitism. All the rest is lies. "

You can read the full article and much more over at chiesa.

If you have any comments on this, please email me offline on and I will consider whether or not to post it.