Friday, April 20, 2018

And then there's all that trouble ordering the cake...

     Adolf Hitler's birthday is Friday, and here I am without a present.
     Or a person to give it to—well, there's Arthur J. Jones, the sorta-Nazi running for Congress on the Republican ticket. We'll get to him later.
     April 20. Hope it passes peacefully. Ever since April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School, kicking off the current era of mass school shootings, there's been a certain clenched expectation to the date, even though the pair actually planned their attack for the 19th, but delayed a day to collect more ammunition.
     The media unhelpfully increases the dread by lumping in April 19—it's so close!—with Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. But McVeigh was thinking, not of a pre-birthday blow-out for Hitler, but to avenge the deathes of 80 Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993.
     Which is why it's good to pay attention to anniversaries. Terrorists sure do.
     The bright spin: at least they're remembering history. A poll released last week shows that 41 percent of Americans, and 66 percent of Millennials, can't identify what Auschwitz was (oh, sorry kids: concentration camp—1.3 million people killed there. Notorious in its day. Now, obviously, not so much).

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  1. I know I'll see that t-shirt in the near future......

  2. I can never understand how so many neo-Nazis can make sneering jokes and memes about Jewish journalists, politicians, etc., being loaded into ovens, while maintaining that "the ‘Holocaust’ is a greatly overblown non-event.” Similarly, I don't get how Jews can be, at the same time, Bolsheviks and capitalist bloodsuckers.

    In his long introduction to "The Deputy," a harrowing play about the Holocaust (and especially the Pope's disgraceful silence about it), Rolf Hochhuth says something to the effect that eventually, Hitler will be remembered as a great politico and strategist, and his atrocities will be forgotten. At the time I read that (many years ago, as a college student), I thought it was ridiculous. Now I see stats like two-thirds of millennials not knowing what Auschwitz was, and I'm not so sure.

  3. The coolest suburban-Chicago Jewish fourth graders always sang it as: "Mussolini bit his weenie."

    And hasn't "Viet Nam" been one word (Vietnam)for about fifty years?

  4. I’m actually one of the much maligned Millennials. My grandfather was part of the force that liberated Dachau. He told me a little about it when I was 12 or so, as much as one can expect you’d tell a child about, anyway. I don’t think he went to church much anymore after that. But we’re stupid or whatever, fine.

    It’s one of the great tradgedies of history, that of all the millions that died in WWI, Hitler managed to scrape by. On his birthday, let’s all imagine how much better our world would be today if the wounds he took had been fatal.

  5. I dropped my daughter off at school this morning and 15 minutes later in my car the radio news reported, "There has been a high school shooting today at a high school in - short moment of dread - Florida." What a relief. Some poor kid in Florida got sot in the ankle but at least it's not my kid. Oh, wait a minute, it's only 10am so we need to make it through another five hours.

    -Mr. Creosote, unable to use Google these days

  6. Having read a lot of Trollope and Thackeray novels -- inspired by Neil's recommendation of Phineas Finn a couple years ago, I know that both authors were able to discern the humanity and capability of Jewish individuals, but were not above exploiting invidious stereotypes commonly held by contemporary Victorians. Likewise, they both recognized and depicted superior women, frustrated by their political impotence, but were opposed to changing the status quo in which they were comfortable. Is it any wonder that irrational prejudices persist through the ages when intellectuals go against their better instincts for the sake of vulgar popularity.


  7. "Did you have a cake?

    'Of course.'

    What did the cake say?

    'Happy birthday Adolf.'

    My work here is done."

    Indeed. I'll adapt the old "Bobwatch" tagline for the occasion: Neil talks to the Nazi, so we don't have to...

  8. Millennials don't seem to know or care much about what happened before they were born, which would be anything before about 1980.

    Did Boomers know or care much about what preceded them? I would venture to say that most of them did. Maybe they might not have cared, but they knew. The earliest Boomers missed out on WWII, but they knew about it. Damn betcha! We played Army with GI and Nazi helmets and 1943 Army issue canteens, compliments of our veteran fathers.

    And we watched the same TV shows and listened to the same music, because it was a shared culture in the Fifties (Different story in the Sixties, but let's not go there right now). Regardless of how old you may have been,radio and TV shows were called "broadcasts" for a good reason. Eventually, cultural events became "narrowcasts." Now? Maybe "microcasts."

    The many reasons that Millennials don't know about Auschwitz (or so much other history)are not entirely their own fault. But much of the blame is many of them are self-obsessed, self-involved, selfie-minded. Meh.

    1. I live in a home with 3 millennial and have exposure to many of their friends . on the whole they are so much more decent, caring and thoughtful than my peers growing up in the 60s and 70s. I think much of what is said about them as a group is exaggerated or mistaken.i read a book called the greatest generation about people responsible for the death of millions . meh.

    2. Although I no longer live with any, I heartily agree with your main point. (Although since the greatest generation was fighting in WWII, a just cause if ever there was one, I can't agree with your final sentence.)

  9. I hate to use that old trite snark, FME, but if that "greatest generation" hadn't stood up to worldwide fascism, you wouldn't be speaking (or typing) in English, and the planet would be experiencing the return of the Dark Ages, an era that might have lasted for centuries.

    And if you just happen to be Jewish, like I am, both you and I would never have existed at all, as our parents would have been transported to Madagascar and been worked to death in slave labor camps. Or, if they were really lucky, turned into ashes, lamp shades, and chimney smoke, as happened to my grandmother's entire family, back in the old country (what we now know as Russia).

    Yes, tens of millions up did that hundreds of millions (or even billions) of those yet unborn could see the light of day. Something to think about.


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