Political Correctness (PC) is so potent that it can never be measured by the polls (who’d ask? who’d tell?), is scrupulously avoided by TV’s talking heads, and scares the hell out of academics. An effort to dissent on the following of many “hot” subjects would quickly reveal that PC reigns supreme. Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln are heroes. The invasion of the South and WWII were “good wars,” and that’s it. Case closed. Nor does death provide relief for villains. T. S. Eliot and H. L. Mencken, for example, are forever branded as purveyors of hate. But if there’s a “How To Successfully Employ Political Correctness” manual, the key chapter must be devoted to the Holocaust. Consider the extraordinary success in disseminating the prevailing Holocaust message, and the impact. How did this come to pass?
In a remarkable new book, The Holocaust in American Life by Peter Novick (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.), the author, himself a Jew, traces the history of the Holocaust. During WWII, policy makers feared that America’s participation would be credited to pressures from American Jews on behalf of their Eastern European cousins. All victims were considered together. Even by the mid-1960s the Jewish victims of the war were still just one group among 50-60 million others. After the 1967 Mideast War, and through the 1970s, however, things changed. Novick observes that “the Holocaust, as we speak of it today, was largely a retrospective construction, something that would not have been recognizable to most people at the time. “Indeed, the Holocaust has become atrophied by political correctness. Jewish groups, spearheaded by the Anti-Defamation League, have successfully relegated the Holocaust to “holy” status beyond analysis or discussion. If you listen to them, it was the seminal event of World War II.
There is something akin to medieval mysticism at work here. Jew and Gentile alike must swear a blood oath to the Holocaust. The very word “Holocaust” has been sanctified and withdrawn from general use. The Armenians better keep their hands off it and find some other term. Holocaust “churches” in the form of museums and monuments are required in every major city around the world.
If the religious metaphor is valid, how does “Holocaustism” deal with non-believers and agnostics? The dreaded twin charges of “Holocaust-denial” and Anti-Semitism are a death sentence for career and reputation. In some countries today Holocaust anti-blasphemy laws lead to jail for heretics. A Swiss newspaper publisher was just sentenced to three years in prison for an editorial, while the freedom of the press groups are terrified into silence.
There are pressures for similar laws in our own country, to abolish freedom of speech and the press in this area. Most distressing, political correctness permeates ever-expanding domains. To any complacent readers, I issue the following red alert. If you are a revisionist, conspiracy buff, member of a religious sect, an anti-anti-gun controller, a home schooler, a pro-lifer, an anarchist, one who is out of the “mainstream,”, or simply make a political fool of yourself publicly, you are on borrowed time. And if your message is cogent, and you are winning adherents, especially watch out! Neither your livelihood nor social standing is safe. And it may get worse. The bounds of allowable debate are narrowing. The tentacles of political correctness pollute the schoolroom, the boardroom, and the bedroom. “Truth” comes only from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, network TV, cable TV, the weekly magazines, and Sunday morning’s pulpit in mainstream congregations. The PC message may be delivered in a more subtle fashion through TV commercials or rammed down our throats via court decisions, legislative enactments, or executive branch edicts. Hollywood prepares the final package. The web is the last hope for free expression, and even that delicious miracle of inventiveness is under the gun. The boisterous nature of the web encourages the assassins of freedom to seek legislation making the web’s discordant product a possible hate crime. Only the First Amendment saves the US from the path followed by Germany, Canada, France and Switzerland, where the accusation of hate crime is a constant fear, and where mere words can land you in the slammer.
As a proud American Jew, I ask the Jewish leadership: how can you countenance a policy that creates genuine doubt and fear among writers, academics, political activists, and plain people? Your policy may lead to less public expression of bias and “hatred,” but at what price?
Jews for centuries have been victims in societies where uttering the wrong word or failing to comply with dogma meant danger. How can you sponsor programs that make Jews the oppressors?
However you define Anti-Semitism, the accomplishments and prosperity of the American Jewish community are without question. Second-class citizens we are not. There are ample laws to protect Americans against violence and real violation of our real rights. We need no hate crimes legislation nor vigilantism in the name of Political Correctness, let alone terror tactics to prevent feelings from being hurt.