Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Holocaust's Unlearned Lesson

Some media coverage of this year's International Holocaust Remembrance Day included two quotations that illustrate the large blind spot in so many people's world view.

 "The memory of this immense tragedy, which above all struck so harshly the Jewish people, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, so that every form of hatred and racism is overcome, and that respect for, and dignity of, every human person is encouraged." Pope Benedict XVI.

"Those who experienced the horrors of the cattle cars, ghettos, and concentration camps have witnessed humanity at its very worst and know too well the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence." U.S. President Barack Obama.

The most important lesson of the Holocaust is that our genetic heritage encourages us to fear and hate the "other." The lesson is not what we do to others, but that we see others as being different enough that we have a right, even a duty, to manipulate, hurt, and kill them.

Pope Benedict worries about "every human person" but eats the flesh of others; President Obama cites "the horrors of the cattle cars" yet is apparently blind to the horror occurring in those cars right now.

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