A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Triumph of Ignorance

An e-mail which has been making the rounds of the Internet for what appears to be years crossed my horizon, perhaps for the second time. Purportedly written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez, the article decries what Europe lost at Auschwitz (“European Life Died at Auschwitz”). The author conveniently gives us a body count — six million Jews, 20 million Russians, etc. — of the actual casualties accepted as true by many historians. The article also enumerates and compares the contributions of Jews to the Muslims, but bases this solely on the number from each culture who have won Nobel Peace prizes.

The e-mail claims that the article originally appeared in a Spanish newspaper in 2008. Other “reprints” of this article state its publication date as 2006 and 2011. One website denies that it was ever published in a Spanish newspaper at all. Web explorations of the author’s identity have yielded very little information. The most that one can determine about the “author” is that he writes for a right-wing, pro-Israel, anti-communist website. Beyond this, who knows anything about him?

The article appears to be at first a warning that the teaching of the Holocaust will be banned from school curriculums in the name of political correctness. If this was all the article was about, then I would wholeheartedly agree with its contents. The historian part of me cannot agree with the idea that the Holocaust should be denied, or stricken from any school curriculum. This should also be true for any documented events of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.

Example: Crusades anyone? When was the last time this conflict was taught in America’s high school history classes? Answer: in my lifetime, not at all, unless you sought out a specific history course on this subject, but even then you may only find it at the college level.

The author unfortunately veers away from this main concern about planned ignorance in school curriculums throughout the world, to an editorial decrying the Islamic culture as whole. Ironically, his descriptions of Muslims and his arguments are worthy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. According to him, Muslims have brought “stupidity and ignorance” to his country, turning “our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.” Somewhere, Adolf is weeping tears of joy.

I’m getting a feeling of déjà-vu about this subject.  Deja-vu as in, “Didn’t I already comment on this in one of my other 650+ entries?” No matter! Whatever I said then bears repeating now.

Rodriguez, if that really is the author’s name, bases his verdict of Islam as a violent religion on the actions of a relatively small number of fanatics. There are no shortage of fanatics; Jews and Christians have their share of zealots who will resort to violent means to spread their understanding of the gospel. Islam does not have a monopoly on violent extremists, just as Christianity doesn’t have the market cornered on anti-Semitism.  

Rodriguez rates each culture on the number of Nobel prizes won by Jews (129) as opposed to those won by Muslims (7). Okay, game, set, match for the Jews, but should prize winning research be the only yardstick for a culture’s contributions to the world? To be fair, the Nobel Prize did not exist thousands of years ago when Muslim cultures were developing entire disciplines like algebra and alchemy, or modern chemistry. If the awards existed then, the count would likely be tipped in the other direction.

Damn Alfred Nobel for being born in the 19th century!

This whole episode points up once again that racism is not necessarily a belief, an attitude worthy of correction. It could also be viewed as a contagion, which infects millions. Once the “infection” sets in, the host organism displays the worst symptoms, lashing back at other groups who they feel are to blame for their problems. The result is the host displays racist attitudes itself.

Am I saying that racism is necessarily organic or biological in nature? No, and I certainly hope it isn’t. Can it be cured? Certainly, and that cure is education. Unfortunately, education in the United States appears to be a low priority in these times of don’t-raise-taxes-cut-government-spending attitudes at the state level. The Republican governors of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are boasting that they were able to pass their respective state budgets on time, something their predecessors (both coincidently Democrats) were unable to do. Again, I hasten to point out that the Democrats may have had problems passing their budgets on time, but at least they kept badly needed social programs (like education) funded. Today’s leaders prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and yell loudly to drown out the protests of the less fortunate.

In this case, the less fortunate are not only those with little or no financial resources on which to live, but also those with little or no intelligence to see through Rodriguez’s arguments. Yes, I agree that any historical event, no matter how controversial, should be taught, period. Rodriguez loses me with his Hitler style rants against Islam. So for him and his triumph of ignorance, I will stick one finger in one ear, and keep my mouth shut, so I can hear the cries of the less fortunate.
(Thank you for reading! Thank you, mom, for forwarding that e-mail.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that the British Government debated abolishing teaching the Holocaust from the curriculum is also a well documented hoax!

May 22, 2013 at 2:32 PM  

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