Glenn Beck and PETA in Lockstep (Goose Step?) on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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The Holocaust was a horrific stain on modern history. Twentieth century civilization was far too advanced for a world to witness or fail to to witness the systematic killing of millions of innocent people. It is an equally abhorrent stain on 21st century civilization that mini-Holocausts are happening around the world at this very moment.

They are “mini” because they are smaller in size and slightly less abhorrent for the simple reason that the Holocaust was perpetrated by one of the most advanced groups of people in the modern world. The mini-Holocausts occurring around the world are by and large in 3rd world countries where lawlessness is more expected than early 20th century Germany. So I call them mini-Holocausts. Fair enough?

The Holocaust is in the news today for a few reasons.

First of all it is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The U.N., the President and Google (among others) are all using this day to spread the ideals of peace, love and tolerance. There are a lot of Holocaust remembrance days. I am torn between thinking that there cannot be enough and that too much awareness is likely to have less effect. There is no right answer but it’s worth considering.

I like the universal message of Holocaust remembrance that teaches that tolerance and understanding can help prevent future Holocaust-like slaughter of humans. (See: My Visit to the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center) To me that is the most important lesson that can be learned from Holocaust studies and memorials.

Which brings me to the second reason the Holocaust is in the news today. Some rabbis are upset that Glenn Beck overuses the Holocaust when making analogies to pretty much anything. The Internet has long known that all arguments evenrually end when one party makes a Nazi analogy. This is known rule called Godwin’s Law. While it is annoying and plays to emotions (one way or the other) this is a fact of life. Beck is just doing what everyone else does.

That being said, it would be nice if he were a bit more sensitive. Words carry weight, have power and meaning. But that weight, power and meaning can be diluted when the words themselves are overused in less powerful contexts. Beck is doing a disservice to the word Holocaust and the negative connotations of Nazis by overusing those words.

Beck is not alone.

[I don’t like it when rabbis call the 21st century a “spiritual Holocaust”. A) it’s not and B) Holocaust? Come on. Poor choice of words.]

And PETA does the same thing. They have called the slaughter of chickens a Holocaust. I find that equally disturbing.

Who knew Beck and PETA would ever share a criticism…?

And that is the irony of it all. Beck nor PETA exemplifies the very important message of the Holocaust. Tolerance. Love. Understanding. Both are polarizing. Both sensationalize. And both display a very poor understanding of when to use certain powerful words.

  • J.J.

    Rabbi Fink,

    I agree that there needs to be alot of love, tolerance and understanding in this world. However, while here on earth I doubt we will ever completely have that. Evil people will always exist. I think a more important lesson to be learned from the Holocaust has to do with the question of how on earth was this allowed to happen? How is it that the masses allowed for a tyrant to kill millions of Jewish people. How did people allow Hitler to succeed?

    Hitler used propaganda and brilliant speeches to influence people. He kept the truth hidden from the public. He took over the police, the media and education. If people did try to speak out they were silenced and sent to camps and executed. Hitler controlled everything and had all the power and even had power to change laws to suit his goals.

    The real fear is when a government becomes too powerful and people lose their rights. When people lose their right to free speech and to bear arms they become defenceless against a powerful and corrupt government. It is the job of the citizenry to hold their government accountable, the media accountable and the education system accountable. It is the people who must keep the republic they were given and never let a tyrant or government have too much control. This isn’t about liberal/conservative or left wing/ right wing. This is about either side having too much power and too much control. People need to criticize their own side when wrong information is given and not stick to brand loyalty like Republican or Democrat. I hope there is never again something so horrific as a Holocaust. It is a natural tendency for government to get too big and for evil people to get power. This is where people need to be vigiliant and not complacent and apathetic. It is our duty to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. When a tragedy like this occurs it is a failure of the people who didn’t rise up and demand their human rights and those of their fellow citizens.

    • That’s another way to spin it…

      You make some good points but I disagree with several things.

      1) Right to Bear Arms? You think if German citizens had guns the Holocaust would have been averted?!

      2) Who said anything about taking away free speech?

      3) The government in the United States has shifted from small to large to small to large to small to large over the past 220 years. It is normal for it to fluctuate and the fluctuation itself serves as a check and balance.

      4) “When a tragedy like this occurs it is a failure of the people who didn’t rise up and demand their human rights and those of their fellow citizens.” Please don’t blame the victims.

      • J.J.

        1). I don’t know if it would have been completely averted but having guns gives people leverage because the government knows the citizenry has some power.

        2) There is no doubt that there is a liberal bias in today’s media that dominates. People need to be aware and watchful of it.

        3) Yes it is normal for it to fluctuate and then very necessary to beat it back when government becomes too big. AS the country spends more and more it is sinking our nation. As people become more and more dependent on big government it gets harder and harder to beat it back as things get out of control. People will need to choose between liberty and entitlements. These entitelments need to be paid for and they will by higher and higher taxes. The higher the taxes are the more people will be enslaved to the government.

        4) I’m not blaming the victims. I’m speaking about the masses of people, ie, all the Germans. The nazis picked groups of people to persecute, mostly Jewish people but they also persecuted and executed homosexuals, disabled, and anyone who was outspoken against them. People who weren’t in a persecuted group would say, phew, I’m glad it’s not me. When a citizenry sees a minority group being persectued they have a responsibility, a duty, to stand up for them. If the government today wanted to round up a minority group and send them off to a labor camp the the rest of us had better stand up against it. It is not wrong to say this is the responsibility of the people. It is up to us to keep the government in check. This is a republic and we cannot afford to be apethetic and complacent.

        Our government is too big and powerful now, it is time to beat it back. Of course, you know that is just a metaphor I’m using.

        • J.J.

          You know I was going to let this go, but I decided before I turn in that I do in fact want to address your last comment a bit more.

          I found your #4 to be very offensive. How dare you turn my words around and accuse me of blaming the victims who died. The Holocaust was a horrific tragedy.

          The point was….. what have we learned about the Holocaust. You said it was to love, understand and be tolerant. Well, yes, those are good things. But as I stated, more importantly how was it allowed to happen? What have we learned and how can we prevent it from happening again?

          Hitler became too powerful. The people no longer had free speech, guns to defend themselves and the propoganda of taking over the media and schools and an abundance of brilliant speeches led to a brainwashing of the population.

          My basic point in #4 is what we should have learned is that the population is responsible for keeping our elected leaders in check. The citizenry is responsible to keep their freedoms.

          When our country’s government was formed a person on the street asked Franklin what kind of government they had given us. His response was, “A republic, if you can keep it.” They knew government had a natural tendency to get big and userp individual’s rights and freedoms.

          It is our job and responsiblity to keep it. If we don’t it is indeed our failure.

          This is what we should have learned. Please do not twist my words and tell me I’m blaming any victims for the horrific Holocaust.

        • 2) You do realize that the most popular television news station is Fox News. Right? and talk radio is also dominated by conservatives? Seems like both sides get a lot of air time.

          3) This is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last.

          4) now you sound like a liberal. Mazel tov.