Bernard-Henri Levy’s “Eternal Damnation of the Spotless Mind” is a wonderfully unique title for an article, a book, or anything else. The proposal encouraged by Levy, however, is the commonplace one that it is dangerous to “forget.” It is the standard and unimaginative tool used by your run-of-the-mill spokesperson for the Holocaust Marketing Industry.
Levy does not consider here the dangers of forever remembering what is false. Consider Gaza. Is it really all for the best that Jews “remember” that God gave the land of Palestine and Gaza to them? Wouldn’t it have been best following WWII if they, and everyone else, had forgotten it?
Levy is writing in “remembrance of the renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, murdered two years ago, on Jan. 19, 2007, for his comments on the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces during WWI.”
“This struggle will continue as long as there are no laws in place penalizing genocide denial -- and these laws are needed not only in Turkey, but around the world. Critics may say, ‘It is not for the law to write history.’ That is absurd. History has been written a hundred times over. The facts have been established, and new laws will protect them from being altered."
History has been written a hundred times over. I don’t understand what the fellow means. The history of 9/11? The history of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. military? Levy probably means for me to understand that in the end he is talking about the one particular historical event that so many intellectuals and marketeers are obsessed with.
“The laws already in place in many countries regarding Holocaust denial do not touch historians -- for them the question of whether the slaughter of the Jews was or was not genocide is no longer at issue. What is at stake is preventing the erasure of such crimes from our society's memory.”
This expresses a kind of stupidity that is difficult for me to reconcile with the brilliance of a Bernard-Henri Levy. I am forced to consider the possibility that Levy—it is impossible for me to think him stupid—has been stupefied by his cultural environment where such thinking is the rule—of law. It resembles how perfectly bright school children in America are stupefied in their Government schools to grow up believing they should think the way Levy thinks. The gas-chamber stories and the “unique” monstrosity of the Germans cannot be questioned, either rationally or in good faith.
“Some may ask, ‘Can't the truth defend itself?’ No, I am afraid not. [….] Laws prohibiting Holocaust denial are expressions of the fact that genocide, a perfect crime, leaves no traces. In fact, the obliteration of those traces is genocide's final phase. Holocaust deniers are not merely expressing an opinion; they are perpetrating a crime.”
Genocide is the perfect crime, it leaves no traces, yet its history has been written a hundred times over. This is too obvious to belabor.
Bernard-Henri Levy may be blown away by the quality of his own prose--The Eternal Damnation of the Spotless Mind—-but then so am I. Yet Levy’s own mind is not spotless at all. It is soiled on every side by his immoral appeal to suppress the free flow of ideas about historical questions. Such an appeal can only be enforced through the initiation of force by the State, or the threat of it. Arrest, prison, perhaps someday execution. If we can okay the State slaughter of Iraqi civilians, and Palestinian civilians, it only follows that many of us, particularly the most idealistic among us—-such as the Bernard-Henri Levys--would be willing to go along for the ride.