Blatant stupidity gets on my nerves. When that blatant stupidity gets passed on as fact by a reasonably trusted source who should know better, I become angry. This evening (Thursday, May 1st, 2008) such an incident occurred.
During one of the local news casts, the anchor mentioned that is was sixty some years since the end of the Nazi death camps. She went on to say that six million people were murdered in the camps and that there were going to be some local speakers discussing the issue. The speakers aren't what upset me; it's the anchor's head count.
This is a common problem in a country where we do not value education, despite saying otherwise. Far too many of us do not know the details of major historical incidents. The anchor's statement is an example and, by speaking it on the news, this wrong information has now been reinforced in the viewing public.
The problem is that were not just six million people murdered in the camps, there were eleven million. The six million is just the count of Jews. When you stop your count at six million, you are discounting the murders of an additional five million people. That is five million deaths at the hands of some people with whom rational folk disagree.
There are several reasons for this common misstating of numbers. First, the Jews and Israel all band together fairly well on the matter and have been quite outspoken on it. They have a reasonably tight identity that comes from a long history as a people.
Secondly, there is the fact that Jews were the largest single category of people murdered in the camps. The Nazis actually had programs named and designed expressly for the elimination of the Jews and the death camps figured into these programs rather heavily. This means that there was and is plenty of Nazi propaganda talking about the Jewish aspects of the slaughter.
Of course, there is always the concept of Christian guilt. The Christians pretty much bullied other peoples, particularly the Jews, as soon as there were enough Christians in power to get away with it. Anti-Semitism was rampant throughout Europe and European settled countries right through the Second World War. It can even be seen today. (At one point Jews immigrated from Christian Spain to Muslim countries because the Christians were into the oppression thing whereas the Muslims are admonished by the Koran to be nice to the "People of the Book". Of course, they probably should have expected the Spanish Inquisition.)
Now, as a result of Christian guilt, many Christian peoples, particularly in Europe and the United States pay particular attention to the murder of the six million Jews as a way of appeasing their consciences. It doesn't hurt that it also gives them an excuse to look at gruesome yet "fascinating" photographs of the train wreck discovered in occupied lands.
Another reason that many don't care to recall the others murdered there is that those other groups were often people that the common person doesn't necessarily like to think about. The disabled were shipped to death camps, as were the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Nazis shipped off the homosexuals who were not in the high command. There were plenty of Poles and Slavs and prisoners of war. Many a gypsy found his wanderings ended there. It is difficult to catalog all of the variety in that other group of five million people who were murdered in the death factories.
So, to set this straight, there were eleven million people murdered in the Nazi death camps. It was not just six million; there were in fact five million more. That's total people, not just the Jews. Scientific research has proven beyond a doubt that Jews are, in fact, people. The six million of them can be added to the other five million people to make a total of eleven million people . That's ten million and then another one million on top of that.
The next time you want to wax wistfully at the horror of the Nazi death camps, please show some respect to the entire collection of victims and not just the ones you think may be trendy. Try to remember that by isolating the Jews here, you are just as bigoted as if you were trying to make them not people yourself. Jews are people and a large number of them made up the eleven million people murdered in the death camps. When you think that you never want that to happen again, wish that it doesn't happen to anybody.
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