When asked the other day if he thought that Catholic Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of the Christ," was anti-Semitic or not, Jewish filmmaker Steven Spielberg replied that he was "too smart to answer a question like that," since he hadn't yet seen the film. Good answer, and logical. It does help to see films if you're going to comment on them.
The occasion for the comments from Spielberg was a promo session for the DVD release of Spielberg's Holocaust pic "Schindler's List."
According to some news reports, Spielberg told the audience that he hoped that his movie 'Schindler's List' would prove to Holocaust deniers that the murder of 6 million Jews really did happen.
Huh? Since when is a film made in Hollywood proof of anything? Since that didn't sound as logical as Spielberg's earlier statement, I went to another news report. The second news report indicates that Spielberg said that he hoped the Shoah Foundation will prove to deniers that the Holocaust happened. That's a little better, but that's still not proof.
At any rate, if anyone read the film-as-proof statement and thinks that Hollywood films are proof of their subject matter, then perhaps Gibson's epic of Christ's last twelve hours on earth is proof that Jews share a collective guilt for the killing of Jesus. Certainly, some who claim that Gibson's film is anti-Semitic do seem to be saying that the film pushes the notion of such a collective guilt (a claim that Gibson denies). In reality, Gibson's film is no more proof of what happened back then than Spielberg's 'Schindler's List' is proof of the Holocaust.
Some might even go so far to say that if Spielberg's 'Schindler's List' is proof of the Holocaust, then perhaps Spielberg's 'E. T.' is proof of little plant loving aliens who can make bicycles fly. You see the problem when one equates proof with Hollywood films. Ah, but some will say that 'Schindler's List' is purportedly based on actual events and 'E.T' is clearly a work of fiction. Point taken. However, the ultimate point is that no film, unless it is an unedited version of actual events made at the time they happened, with a passive third person camera, and with the actual participants, is anywhere near being proof of anything. Even with the just mentioned conditions, such a film is still suspect as proof and subject to different interpretations because the camera can't see everything, but only what passes in front of it.
A few words of definition are in order before proceeding. In the public mind, and as I discuss it here, the Holocaust is usually loosely defined this way: a government program or policy in Nazi Germany to kill off most or all Jews, and the subsequent actual killing, usually in gas chambers, and the disposal of the bodies, usually by cremation, of more than 6 million Jews at various concentration camps set up by the Nazis. If we agree on this definition of the Holocaust, and with all of the foregoing elements, we can proceed with some assurance that we're discussing the same thing in the same terms (which is not often the case when people resort to name calling instead of rational discussions). The word "Holocaust" when used in this column is shorthand for the definition in this paragraph.
Those who are sometimes disparaged as Holocaust deniers (Holocaust researchers might be a more appropriate term in some cases), by those who want to brow-beat these people into silence, often argue, with the above definition in mind, that a). there is no proof of such a wide spread German government program, b). it would have been impossible to kill and dispose of the bodies of 6 million people by the means available and claimed, c). Jewish population statistics before and after the war don't indicate that 6 million Jews were killed.
These so-called Holocaust deniers also often say that the Holocaust, as it is usually portrayed, was essentially a PR move to justify the establishment of Israel by claiming that Jews needed their own country where they could finally live in peace and be protected from anti-Semites.
I've never heard any of the so-called Holocaust deniers claim that no Jews were killed or even that many, many Jews weren't killed. Most seem to say that their research of the Holocaust--which is often portrayed as a cohesive and coordinated extermination program--didn't happen as portrayed. Most freely admit that Jews, and others, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. They freely admit that many Jews and others died at various of these concentration camps. They admit to the possibility that some German military commanders and soldiers may have killed many, many Jews and others out of hatred. What they don't admit is that the Holocaust, as it is usually portrayed, is an accurate depiction of events of that era.
Real proof that the Holocaust (or any other historic event, for that matter) happened, as it is widely portrayed; or, conversely, that it didn't happen, requires the work of many intelligent and open minded people sifting through the evidence in logical and scientific ways and exposing that evidence to public scrutiny.
Those who want to prove that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust need to do more than make movies, and they have to do more than start foundations where individual testimonies are kept (Spielberg's Shoah Foundation has collected more than 52,000 Holocaust survivor testimonies). Such testimonies are helpful to determine the truth, and they supply needed pieces of the puzzle, but there must be more when we're discussing such a massive event as the purported murder of 6 million people. A man saying a friend was put on a train and taken away and that he never returned, for example, is evidence only of the fact that his friend was put on a train and taken away and that he never returned. It is not proof of a large conspiracy to exterminate millions of people. Even if all 52,000 Holocaust survivors had photographic memories and were completely unbiased and told the absolute truth as they experienced it, this still doesn't mean that the Holocaust, as portrayed, happened as portrayed. It just means that 52,000 people experienced,on a personal level, some of the painful horrors of that time.
Skeptics might even say that It probably wouldn't be too difficult today to find 52,000 people who will testify that they have seen, talked to, or been abducted by E.T.s of one type or another. They will hold that this isn't proof, though, and will say that healthy skepticism demands more, even if it offends those who say E.T.s abducted them.
Even though many people, including many Jews, lost loved ones in WWII, this is still not proof that the Holocaust happened as it is portrayed. War is horrible, and losing loved ones is often a pain that never heals. And, when the loved ones are children, or parents, or siblings, the loss is often cosmic in its intensity. Most decent people know this, and most decent people are appalled by it. No one should have to endure such pain. And, if there were a government program that did cause such losses and such pain, and if there truly were a Holocaust, as it is usually portrayed, then clearly there must be attempts by all good, decent people to prevent such things from ever happening again. To accomplish this, the proof of what happened must be made clear to all, and rumors and untruths must be separated from the truth.
For starters, there must be answers to the questions raised by the so-called Holocaust deniers. For example: Would it have been possible to gas 6 million people in the buildings that some claim were gas chambers? And, would it have been possible to incinerate 6 million bodies in the ovens that were available? These are legitimate questions, and they should be answered honestly. Such questions require actual scientific/engineering answers rather than the usual he said/she said opinion answers. Either the alleged gas chambers and ovens were large enough and efficient enough to dispatch 6 million people or they weren't. By way of analogy, someone can claim that he saw 30 gallons of water put in a 6 ounce glass, but reason tells us this isn't possible and we can prove that it's not possible with simple calculations. Would we call those who doubt that 30 gallons of water can be put into a 6 ounce glass, "glass deniers," or "haters."
Perhaps more light would be shed on the subject of the Holocaust if those well meaning people who do believe in the Holocaust not only funded foundations to take down the testimonies of those who say they survived the Holocaust, but also funded foundations of skeptics who would try to disprove the Holocaust. These skeptics could attempt to debunk the Holocaust just as various debunkers do with claims made about E.T. abductions. If they can't prove that the Holocaust didn't happen--in spite of all the testimonies that it did--then maybe they'll admit it did happen. Yes, I know this is trying to prove a negative, but, in this case, given the anti-intellectual atmosphere surrounding this subject, such a technique may help put all the facts out in the light where everyone can see them. And, if the debunkers do succeed in proving that the Holocaust didn't happen, as it is usually portrayed, shouldn't everyone be joyful that 6 million people didn't die? If, on the other hand, the debunkers fail to debunk the Holocaust, then their failure will be more evidence that 6 million did die and this should please those who seem to have turned the claimed death of 6 million Jews into an article of faith that no one must question.
Unfortunately, many Jews who are true believers in the Holocaust seem to be the first to try to stop others from studying what actually happened. And, they often do this by brow beating others by calling them Holocaust deniers, Jew haters, anti-Semites and various other names. Such hateful name calling concerning a purported historic event has no place in our society or in the intellectual study of anything, and those who do this should be repudiated by all well meaning people. Such actions also raise suspicions in people's minds about the truth of the matter asserted.
The Holocaust should be as open to study by anyone who is interested in doing so as any other purported event in history.
Truth is truth, and it's better to clearly see it than to try to hide it.
And, since we're discussing the Holocaust, which, it is claimed, was an attempt at genocide, what about the bedroom genocide that many elites in our society are pushing on mankind right now? Where's the outcry? In the long run, is killing off distinct peoples by manipulating them into mating themselves away any less long lasting than killing off people by gassing them? Even if 6 million Jews were murdered, this is a drop in the bucket compared to the genetic murder of billions of people that is now being pushed. Where are the cries against the genocide deniers? Perhaps someone will make a movie or gather testimonies that will prove to these genocide deniers that bedroom genocide is taking place. Do you think such a movie or such testimonies will convince the genocide deniers, or do you think that they will ask for more proof?
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