Category Archives: Holocaust

On fuckery

Roger Hallam

Crudity will set you free

Dalrymple writes:

Secular holiness is an unpleasant trait, and it is always a pleasure to see the unfrocking of a secular bishop.

Roger Hallam is the founder of his evangelical church, the Extinction Rebellion. In an interview with the Hamburg newspaper the Zeit, Hallam declared that genocides were

like, a normal event. [Das ist ein fast normales Ereignis is the Zeit‘s translation.]

The Belgians, for instance,

went to the Congo in the late 19th century and decimated [sic] it. [Die Belgier kamen im späten 19. Jahrhundert in den Kongo und haben ihn dezimiert.]

In this context, the Holocaust was

just another fuckery in human history. [Nur ein weiterer Scheiß in der Menschheitsgeschichte is the Zeit‘s elegant rendering.]

Jean-Marie Le Pen

Dalrymple comments:

Hallam might appear to have joined the camp of the anti-Semites such as Jean-Marie Le Pen, who called the Holocaust a detail of history, but he was not claiming that the Holocaust did not happen or that it was not serious; he was saying that it was not unique and that we should not continue to say it was unique. There has long been debate as to whether the Holocaust is typologically comparable to, for example, the Armenian genocide or the mass killings in Cambodia. No doubt something can be said on both sides of the question; I do not think anything important turns on it. The Rwandan genocide would be neither better nor worse than it was, whether it were the same as, similar to or distinct from the Holocaust.

What is appalling about Hallam’s words, Dalrymple avers,

is their crudity. The vulgarity of his expression was matched by the imprecision of his thought. The word fuckery is extremely lazy, especially when used by someone with pretensions to seriousness. It is a bit like seeing the Himalayas and saying ‘Very nice.’ A cup of tea and Bach’s St Matthew Passion are also very nice.

Nice.

It is hardly to be expected, Dalrymple says,

that a man using such a term to describe the wilful murder of millions of people with a view to exterminating their kind would be a very clear thinker.

A fucked-up educational system

But it is indicative of a

a reduction in basic educational standards. People have always written tosh, but after many years of compulsory education of the entire population, one might have hoped for a better mastery of language and grasp of what constitutes an argument.

Dalrymple says that to be reduced to using the word fuckery in the face of a catastrophe in history of any scale is symptomatic of

  • debasement of language
  • limitation of vocabulary
  • stunted imagination
  • impoverishment of thought or inability to think

The degradation of public discourse in the West

is evident, and one is tempted to say planned and deliberate. It is as if the educated classes had been trying for years to demonstrate their sympathetic identification with the lower orders by adopting what they supposed, wrongly, were their vulgar habits of speech.

Linguistic Luddism

Take Tribes, by the highly praised playwright Nina Raine, in which she depicts life in an upper-middle-class household for the benefit of an upper-middle-class audience. Opening the script at random, to page 28, Dalrymple finds the following expressions within the space of 15 lines:

  • ‘I want my fucking pen back.’
  • ‘You thieving little shit!’
  • ‘Fuck you!’
  • My arse!

Dalrymple comments that such language, more or less constant throughout the play, is the reverse of expressive except in the most primitive sense, but the intelligentsia would probably consider that to draw attention to the fact is

  • absurd
  • retrograde
  • censorious
  • sanctimonious
  • trying to turn the clock back
  • narrow-minded
  • bigoted
  • linguistic Luddism
  • inhibited

He concludes:

On this view, refinement will constrain or imprison you. But, then, we should not be surprised by a man who cannot tell the difference between genocide and pollution.

Scheiße for brains

The Hobsbawm of the RSPCA

John Bryant with the RSPCA's highest honour, the Queen Victoria Gold Medal for 'long and meritorious service in the cause of animal welfare'

John Bryant with the RSPCA’s highest honour, the Queen Victoria Gold Medal for ‘long and meritorious service in the cause of animal welfare’. Eric Hobsbawm got the Companion of Honour

Dalrymple reports that John Bryant, one of the candidates for the governing council of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes

the keeping of pets of any description is a contravention of animals’ rights, among which is that to freedom.

Bryant believes in

the right of every single fish to live out its life as nature intended.

All fish, Bryant believes, should be released into open waters forthwith. The fact, writes Dalrymple,

that most of the fish would not survive more than a few minutes would count for nothing. Freedom is freedom and not another thing. Did not Benjamin Franklin warn us that he who sacrificed his freedom for security would end up with neither? Why should it be any different for goldfish?

Bryant believes all dogs should be freed

from their leather nooses and chains.

All dogs

should be released from their leashes, collars, kennels, and baskets. Bryant compares their state to that of domestic slavery.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.50.03Bryant

does not want dogs to be released into the exterior wherever they are. The condition of ownerless dogs in Africa and Asia is not encouraging, famished, flea-bitten, battle-scarred and plagued by sores as they are.

Rather,

they should be allowed to die out by not being able to reproduce. Within 15 years they would cease to exist and would thus be released from their terrible servitude.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.57.34Bryant is considered one of the more moderate candidates for the RSPCA’s governing council. Another candidate, the vegan Peta Watson-Smith, has likened the hardships experienced by farm animals to that of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, while Dan Lyons and Angela Roberts, founders of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice think-tank, which been undertaking research into

democratic theory and practice in relation to the representation of animals’ interests,

believe that

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.59.59animals should be represented in Parliament by members dedicated to their interests and rights alone.

An admirable suggestion, though Dalrymple points to a potential snag:

The interests of owls and mice, rabbits and stoats, spiders and flies occasionally conflict.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 23.02.45

Fate of the Ferrarese Jews

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 22.03.22Dalrymple points out that Mussolini,

whom some of the Jewish bourgeoisie had strongly supported in the early days of his regime, opportunistically enacted antisemitic laws to curry favour with Hitler.

Some 96 of the 300 Jews of the city of Ferrara, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, were deported to Poland, and only five of these survived.

Bassani and his wife Valeria in 1943

Bassani and his wife Valeria in 1943

Dalrymple writes that the novelist Giorgio Bassani intends the reader of his Gli occhiali d’oro (1958)

to draw a parallel between the way in which [the homosexual protagonist] Dr Fadigati is treated and the increasing persecution of the narrator [a Jewish student].

Cimitero Ebraico di Ferrara: the entrance, and Bassani's grave

Cimitero ebraico di Ferrara: the entrance, and Bassani’s grave

Gas chambers in Gaza

José Saramago: grotesque obtuseness

José Saramago: grotesque obtuseness and moral cretinism

The Portuguese Hobsbawm

Dalrymple reports that when José Saramago drew a parallel between the plight of the Palestinians and Auschwitz, a journalist asked whether there were gas chambers in Gaza. Saramago replied:

I hope this is not the case. There are so many things being done that have nothing to do with Nazism, but what is happening is more or less the same.

Dalrymple’s comment:

Quite apart from its startling lack of intellectual clarity, Saramago’s reply implies that there might be gas chambers in Gaza, and also that their absence would be a minor detail: Auschwitz and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians are essentially comparable. The comparison is odious, shameful, wicked, and stupid in equal measure.

Romani should be free to do as they like, but please God not near me

From Hergé, The Castafiore Emerald (1963)

From Hergé, The Castafiore Emerald (1963)

That is what most Europeans think, writes Dalrymple.

Everyone is at least subliminally aware of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the gypsies which has made the exertion of authority over them, let alone high-handedness with them, politically and psychologically near impossible.

Dalrymple encounters one of their settlements, and

I averted not so much my gaze as my thoughts from the problem, as being impossible to solve within the bounds of the ethically permissible.

Browse while you can

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 00.02.04This is Dalrymple’s comment on the few remaining second-hand bookshops.

In one of the few SHBs that have not yet been killed off by High Street fake-charity shops (it should not be forgotten that the the fake-charity shops receive large subventions from the British state), Dalrymple discovers, and snaps up, a copy of J. Alexander’s The Truth About Egypt (1911), which he praises as

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 00.19.51a testimony to the vanity of power, or of supposed power.

A certain J. Alexander is the author of The Jews: Their Past, Present, and Future (1870),

being a succinct history of God’s ancient people in all ages, together with a brief account of the origin and formation of the Talmud based upon the most recent and approved authorities, to which is appended a tabulated statement of the numbers of Jews in all countries of the world.

I am not sure this is the same J. Alexander.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 14.55.09

Site of J. Alexander’s house

The J. Alexander who authored The Truth About Egypt signs off his preface ‘Cairo, April 5, 1911’ while the J. Alexander who authored The Jews signs off thus: ‘124, Stockwell Park Road, S.W. [which now appears to have been destroyed by bombing or to have been demolished], March 1, 1870’.

The J. Alexander of Stockwell Park Road writes:

The author being himself a descendant of Israel, has brought to bear on his subject all the love for the people from which he has sprung, combined with the sincerest attachment to the Christian Church, of which, by the grace of God, he has become a member.

The appendix is reproduced below. The statistics are poignant. 456,000 Jews in Germany in 1867; the figure for 1950 was 37,000.

1 23456

The M’bala M’bala malignancy

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 15.25.27

Dieudonné: his freedom of hate-speech and of hate-expression is guaranteed by the French constitution

Dalrymple writes that, a little like Hitler, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala

discovered antisemitism as the key to understanding the world. It also has been his key to success.

He appeals to people who think the Holocaust

was a good thing except that it did not go quite far enough.

He has a theatre in Paris devoted to his one-man show. It is booked out months in advance. Welcome, says Dalrymple,

to the world of French multiculturalism.

Tannhäuser with gas chambers

John Podsnap

John Podsnap

Burkhard C. Kosminski’s production, staged by Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg, elicited this remark from James Kennaway, described as an historian:

While Wagner has questions to answer in relation to the Third Reich, a degree of subtlety would help.

Dalrymple’s comment:

Mr Kennaway presumably meant that Wagner was an important figure in a nasty intellectual (or at any rate ideological) tradition that, in the event, led to Nazism. True, but he was also something else; and in any case this is not the same as ‘having questions to answer,’ a formulation that combines the inexactitude of the pub bore with the moral self-examination of Mr Podsnap.

Moral obtuseness of Saramago and Rushdie

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 07.53.32

José Saramago and Salman Rushdie are no less crass

José Saramago’s attempt to draw a parallel between the situation of the Palestinians and the fate of the victims of Auschwitz is, Dalrymple points out,

odious, shameful, wicked and stupid in equal measure, and the man who makes [the comparison] sullies his name.

Salman Rushdie is also guilty of this trivialisation of the Nazi death camps.

What lies behind this? Dalrymple explains:

The problem is that so much of what intellectuals write and say seeks more to establish their right-mindedness and breadth of sympathy than to elucidate truth. It is hardly surprising that vehemence should be mistaken for depth of feeling, and depth of feeling for thought: and no metaphor could be more vehement than one that invokes Auschwitz. Only the vehement feel truly or deeply, so an inflationary usage of Auschwitz as analogy sets in.

A man who compares the travails of a people with Auschwitz

is not so much drawing attention to their plight as to the supposed depth of his compassion for them: a much more important matter in his estimation. It is not a sign of generosity of spirit: it is a sign of self-absorption and egotism. It is the frivolous use of the murder of millions for small personal advantage.