Thursday, December 4, 2008

Professor Charles Weinblatt, University of Toledo

Professor Charles Weinblatt retired from the University of Toledo in 2004, where he was credentialed. He is the author of a book about the Holocaust, "Jacob's Courage." He writes that “after conducting three years of exhaustive research into the Holocaust, I can safely say that your [my] messages on the topic lack any semblance with reality.”

On October 27 I posted in full a substantial letter on this Blog from Professor Weinblatt meaning to respond to it, but other stuff got in the way and I couldn’t, didn’t do it. He has since written twice more. I’m interested here in his point of view about bigotry, as I believe he represents so well in his person the bigotry of the “protectors of the known things” in academia.

Professor Weinblatt writes: “People are imprisoned in some European nations for questioning the Holocaust in order to prevent another Holocaust. …”

Professor Weinblatt believes, then, that to “question” the Holocaust, that is to argue that there should be a routine examination of this one historical event, will lead to a similar historical event in the future, even if the examination in question changes our understanding of the original event. It is illogical, but it is an understanding that permeates the rhetoric of the “protectors of the known things” in academia, particularly the “known things” about the Holocaust.

Professor Weinblatt writes: “Anti-Semitism is bigotry. And bigotry is a social evil. People who defend Nazi Germany's attitude towards Jews today propagate a terrible malevolence …”

Professor Weinblatt holds that to question what the “protectors of the known things” say is true about the Holocaust via a routine examination of that event “defend Nazi-Germany’s attitude towards Jews.” In fact, some do, but others do not. In this case the professor is addressing a man who does not defend Nazi-Germany’s attitude toward Jews and he cannot demonstrate that I do.

Professor Weinblatt writes: “Until people learn to stop hating each other because of the color of their skin or the way they worship God, there must be a limit to free speech. When that speech is used to promote intolerance, it should be prevented. When it is used to deny the Holocaust, then the purpose of that speech is terrible, anti-social, unbearable and intolerant. In the words of writer and philosopher George Santayana, "Those who ignore the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it."

It is commonly understood that a bigot is one who is “intolerant of the opinions of others.” The irrationally intolerant quality of Professor Weinblatt’s language here suggest nothing if it does not suggest bigotry. When he quotes Santayana, he does not consider the fact that one of the glories of Western Culture is the ideal of intellectual freedom, an ideal that even UNESCO, though unable to hold a steady position on the matter, professes a mandate “to encourage the free flow of ideas.”

Professor Weinblatt, as are all “protectors of the known things” in academia, stands four-square against a free flow of ideas, against a real examination of our own history, and is awash with an intolerant bigotry for those who do not believe as he believes. His vocabulary goes against the ideal of the university itself in Western culture.

In a free society, one devoted to the ideal of intellectual freedom, bigotry would be legal. But not for some. Not alone for a privileged minority. In a free society the Professor Weinblatts would have the right to their bigotry, and I would have the right to mine. The difference here should be made clear. I would never attempt to use force, to use prison, to silence the irrational vocabulary or the expressions of bigotry used by our Professor Weinblatts, “the protectors of the known.”

I wonder how Professor Weinblatt was looked upon at the University of Toledo by his peers and his students. Did they understand that he stood for State censorship and the imprisonment of those who express doubt about what Professor Weinblatt believes? If so, what did they think about that? What do they think about it now?

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