Professor Carolyn M. Byerly is at Howard University in Communications and Journalism.
Mr. Smith: Your question probably isn't being answered by the Holocaust Museum desk because it appears to be asked in rejection of the holocaust rather than in a sincere effort to learn something. Your reasons for such provocation are not clear to me. Neither do I know why you have copied your query to Dr. Shapiro to many on our Howard University faculty.
Carolyn M. Byerly
I suggest that it would be "provocative" to find a Jeremiah Wright at Howard -- or any other campus.
Dear Professor Byerly: Thanks for writing. You are probably right to suggest that my question about having the name of one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz will appear to be asked in rejection of -- something. The cultural environment in our universities does not allow for the possibility that such a question could be a "sincere" effort to learn something. As Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory U. has it, there simply is no "other side" to the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans. Your reasons to see this simple question as "provocative" are only natural in the American academic world.
On the other hand, should we not be willing to be "provocative" when we see that the "gas-chamber" story is one that is used to morally legitimate the intentional murder by Americans of hundreds of thousands of innocent, unarmed civilians in all the major cities of Germany and Japan during WWII? As the Reverend Jeremiah Wright has it, the U.S. administration nuked Hiroshima and Americans "didn't blink an eye." I actually remember that day. I didn't blink an eye myself. I was only fifteen years old, but my mother and father did not blink an eye either. None of us blinked an eye. We felt morally justified in the mass murder of innocent, unarmed Japanese civilians. We believed that the Germans were monsters, the Japs were "monkeys" (I personally remember the language and the drawings). That is the language we use against the "other" to morally justify what we do to them.
You only have to review the language we used against Iraq to morally justify the invasion and conquest of that country, with the resultant millions of displaced, wounded, mangled and dead Iraqis. "Gas chambers" is not a holy word, or a holy concept. "Gas chamber" is an accusation of unique monstrosity against the other, which is exploited to morally justify much of U.S. foreign policy, including the "entangling" U.S. alliance with Israel, which could very well be argued is substantially the cause of the "blow-back" of 9/11. When we think of the catastrophic human losses in which the German WMD played the role of moral justification, it really does not appear to me to be excessive to ask for the name of one person, with proof, who was killed in one of those contraptions.
With regard to why I copied my query to Dr. Shapiro to faculty at Howard University, let me say first that I also copied it to faculty at Georgetown U., U. Maryland, and Johns Hopkins U. But back to Howard. I think I was hopeful that I might find a Jeremiah Wright at Howard, one academic with Wright's courage and his forthrightness, but at the same time, hopefully, without his silliness.
While your interest in communications and journalism at Howard focus on the role women do and do not play in such worlds, still, you are in journalism and communications. Surely there is a role for there for "women" to ask questions and to support others who ask questions, which address how American foreign policy is morally legitimated.