Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Holocaust Bunkum or Godwin's Law In Action

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell her “Bourgeois Liberal Holocaust Story.” It went something like this:

Bourgeois Liberal Holocaust Story

When the Nazis took over Denmark, Hitler ordered that all the Jews wear arm-bands with a yellow Star of David on it, so that the Nazis could tell who they were and, later, round them up. Well, as soon as this was announced, the King of Denmark put on an arm-band with a yellow Star of David on it, and so the next day, most Danes put on an arm-band with a yellow Star of David on it, and pretty soon everyone in Denmark was wearing an arm-band with a yellow Star of David on it, and the Nazis couldn’t tell who was a Jew and who was a Christian, and so all of the Danish Jews were saved.

Gosh, what a triumph for good-hearted bourgeois liberalism!

Well, anyway, when I was about sixteen or so I found out that the story was apocryphal and that Denmark’s Jews were largely evacuated to Sweden. But, like all apocryphal stories, it was created to convey a “truth.” In this case that (I guess) we’re all really just people and if we all just stick together then we can all get along like brothers (cue string music), or some mushy bourgeois liberal thing like that.

So last week I wasn’t surprised when I came across this “Conservative Christian Holocaust Story"

Sing A Little Louder

After a speech, Pro-Life activist Penny Lea was approached by an old man. Weeping, he told her the following story:

"I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?

“A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!

“Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we'd just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.

"Their screams tormented us . . . If some of their screams reached our ears we'd just sing a little louder."

Unlike the “Bourgeois Liberal Holocaust Story,” the “Conservative Christian Holocaust Story” is very explicit in its meaning. The writer of the flyer I got it from goes right on in the next paragraph: “This story was related by a speaker on behalf of the tens of millions of unborn children that have been killed by abortion in this country, as a wake-up call to do something and not just sit by waiting for someone else to act.” Do a Google search and you can find dozens of sites with this story, some of them specifying that the story comes from “Penny Lea,” all of them anti-abortion sites! You can even get T-shirts with the "SING A LITTLE LOUDER" logo on them to help spread the pro-life message!

So what's my point here?

1] The "Sing A Little Louder" story has all the markings of being an out-and-out fabrication. It comes from an unspecified date, in a vague location, and is told by a "weeping old man." And where did the singing take place? Again, no location. And can you think of a church built next to rail-road tracks? Can you think of a freight train so silent that you could hear screams coming from inside of box-cars? And of course there is no confirmation from another source. Penny was the only one who heard the old man. Evidently no one else in the village came forward to confirm the story. Obviously — it's bunk, and the pro-life movement only discredits itself by passing off so transparent an urban legend as fact.

2] The pro-life is also mis-guided in comparing legal abortion to the Holocaust. Such a comparison not only offends Jews and other Holocaust victim groups, but it fails to address the central issue of when life begins. To the pro-abort, comparing abortion to the Holocaust makes about as much sense as comparing rates of plastic surgery to the Holocaust. If you don't think that life begins at conception, this analogy is not about to change your mind.

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