Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good questions are better than good answers. Yeah?

Elie Wiesel spoke before a sold-out crowd at Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Minnesota. The Livonia (MI) Observer & Eccentric Newspapers give the story a sub-head that reads:

"Good questions are better than good answers. Good questions have no answers."

Professor Wiesel is a genius. If I were to ask him to provide the name, with proof, of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz, I believe Elie would consider it one of those question that is too good to have an answer. It follows then that there are only answers to questions that aren’t much good to begin with.

This particular lecture was titled "The Power of Language for Reconciliation." Wiesel noted that examples of reconciliation, or the lack thereof, can be traced to early scripture. Citing the biblical tale of Cain and Abel, he said that when “language fails, it is replaced by violence … Violence becomes the new language. That was true then, and it is now. In other words, two brothers rejected reconciliation as a way of life."

Should I be encouraged to hope that it is possible for those who believe the core Holocaust narrative and those who doubt it could exchange language in an environment of openness and good will with an aim of reconcilliation? Would Elie encourage such a peaceful exchange? Or would he favor the prosecution and imprisonment -- that is, an act of State violence against an individual -- of those who doubt what he believes regarding the core Holocaust narrative?

“Wiesel said in times of extreme conflict and crisis, language is an early victim and is often ‘violated, maimed, enslaved, corrupted and perverted.’" That is, those who doubt what he believes about the core Holocaust story are commonly labeled “haters,” “anti-Semites,” “liars,” “sadists.” and general “no-goods.” Is the intent of such language to victimize those it is used against? Sometimes?

Adolf Hitler, Wiesel said, "referred to the extermination of six million Jews as the 'final solution,' as if it was a mathematical problem."

If I were to ask how Elie Wiesel can demonstrate that Adolf Hitler referred to “the extermination of six million Jews” anywhere under any circumstances, would that be a question so good that it could not possibly have an answer? Would asking the question itself be an act of violence? Would it violate language? Would it maim, enslave, corrupt or pervert language?

If so, how so? Another of those questions I suppose that is too good to have an answer.

***

I’m reading a book titled They Went That-a-Way by Malcolm Forbes. It informs me how some of the “famous, the infamous, and the great died.” I think my pulling this title out of a box of books that I’m giving away is a very small irony. At best.

No comments: