Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Humboldt State University, where a rabbi responds to our question of "One Person, with Proof"

Rabbi Steinberg:

I published an ad in The Lumberjack where I used 17 words to ask if there is one professor at Humboldt State University who can …. provide, with proof, the name of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. You have written more than 1,000 words to demonstrate that you cannot answer the question and that you will not try to answer it.

I believe there will be students at Humboldt State who will recognize this fact.

Other than that, you have a number of interesting observations to make. I agree that we do not really want to believe that human beings are capable of monstrous atrocities. While you list a string of sites where Germans did, or allegedly did, commit such atrocities, you do not mention atrocities carried out by the Americans during the same war. Such as the intentional slaughter of the helpless, core civilian populations of all the major cites in Germany and Japan, ending with the nuclear destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

I understand, being a rabbi, you are primarily interested in the suffering of Jews, but my sense of things is that it is really rather too shallow to not feel the need to express any empathy whatever for the tens of millions of others who suffered unjustly in that war, particularly when we, our own families, participated in carrying out the slaughters.

It is my understanding that to attain the position of rabbi you have to know how to read with some competence. That being so, I find it difficult to believe that you would suggest that my ad denies the reality of the Holocaust. To begin with, you do not define Holocaust. Next, my ad does not mention Holocaust. What's going on? Really. What's going on?

You do not explain to Humboldt students why it is hateful to ask the question I ask. I believe it can be argued, successfully, that it is hateful to accuse Germans of mass murder using WMD (gas chambers) and at the same time insist that the accusation should not be questioned in the light of day.

While it is true that I address students, I am targeting professors. It is my hope to encourage students to stop following in the footsteps of a professorial class that is committed to suppressing any routine examination of the gas-chamber story in order to preserve the taboo that they have erected to protect it. I hope to encourage students to stand up and ask their professors the question I put in the ad, and to not allow the professor to dance around all over the place. Like you have done here.

You write that Humboldt students are idealistic, eager to understand political events that shape our lives, and deeply concerned about social and environmental justice. This sounds good to me. If only their professors, and should I say their rabbis as well, would encourage that eagerness to understand such political events as the exploitation of the gas-chamber stories to morally justify all manner of atrocities and injustices.

You like to use the word bigot when referring to me. My understanding of the term is that it refers to somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views. Let me say that I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong to ask for the name, with proof, of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.

Are you willing to be convinced that you are wrong to believe that I am wrong in asking it? I do not believe you are. I will not characterize what this implies to me with regard to your own character.

You write .... A bigot’s obsession has drawn our students into an examination of world history and the responsibilities of a free press.... I could not ask for anything more. My understanding is that an examination of history and a free press makes the same promise to you as it does to me. I am willing to live with that promise. Are you? Your present letter does not encourage me to believe you are.

If Lumberjack journalists are to listen to guidance from faculty, I suspect that they will find themselves guided toward a free press and intellectual freedom for some, but not for all. For the privileged few. For rabbis, but not the Jewish community as a whole. For the academic minority, but not for the student majority.

I’m willing to be convinced, eager to be convinced, that I am wrong about this. Pray, keep me up to date.


Anonymous said...

Bradley, you are doing something wonderful or all people in the whole world. Please carry on. There are many of us who support you.

Friends in Europe

Anonymous said...

Accusing Germans and at the same time protecting the holocaust story is bigotry, Smith puts it well.

Anonymous said...

absolutly right, these is something great for all the world.

great work mr smith

saludos from mexico

joe said...

It is everyone's responsiblity to educate everyone about the holocaust lies. It's the most important event that has allowed the Jews to silence anyone that criticizes them for their actions.