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.