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Really, it's not whether you stand by him or not, but your why's

Reader comment on item: John Hagee, the Holocaust, and Me: Thinking about Allies

Submitted by Rand (United States), Jun 7, 2008 at 15:59

Dan Pipes' why's seem decent to me (not that I'm an overall fan of his positions in a general sense). I think if asked about a situation like this, the worse thing you can do is ignore it, because that says the statements are not significantly wrong enough to warrant a response.

I'm alright with McCain's reaction, even if it is a little posturing-y, because it does send a clear signal that you shouldn't say things like that. But I'm okay with Dan Pipes decision because while it side-steps the debate, it admits the statements are wrong, if not as loudly, and it confronts a fundamental reality of politics.

Politics is an ugly, ugly game, and I think it's naive and counterproductive to repudiate all the allies who you feel have repugnant views. I mean Obama hasn't repudiated the various semi-Commie groups endorsing him (especially if you look at the student groups campaigning for him). It's very rare for a single ideology to have enough overwhelming support among the population to allow for a pure coalition, so you must band with those you hate, sometimes those you really hate, sometimes those everyone should really hate (I use the word in the colloquial sense, on a more abstract level I believe that we should all love each other, however I use hate anyways since colloquially I think it can just stand for a strong dislike and demonstrate my actual hatred for those views). So banding with someone like Hagee, while uncomfortable (it would be intensely so for me, since I'm a Catholic), is something I can understand.

As for the remarks themselves... while those who know me might be a little outraged by this, it doesn't seem too far from the general tradition of looking at history as a DIRECT expression of God's will. Hence the genocidal Assyrian Empire becomes God's sword. I personally think that's much too limited a way to look at history, especially given the theological implications of free will, however, I do see it as valid.

Yet I still think Hagee was immensely wrong and justly chastised for saying the remarks. A view like that incorporating the Holocaust into such a theory of history shouldn't be said outside of a strictly academic and/or theological setting, because if they are said casually like this it gives the signal that we can look at Hitler and the Holocaust as just another chapter of history. And we can't do that.

Because if it's just another chapter, it's not an extraordinary outrage, and then it's something bad but maybe the results were worth it, and then with a good deal of logic twisting we get genocide is an option for national aims. It can never be such an option, and that is why there must be a firewall in popular culture around talking casually about the Holocaust like that, especially in a way that almost semi-compliments it. It's just like when people say "Well, Hitler did bring the German economy around," putting aside the fact that Hitler's economic policy was fundamentally flawed (it was overheating the German economy and may have been impossible to maintain without war), saying something like that might be valid in an academic historical/economic setting, but said in public, from a position of authority, a statement like that reduces the horror of the Holocaust, and makes it just a little easier for it to perhaps, maybe, someday happen again.

Least that's how I see it.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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