25 December, 2006
Holocaust Denial is as much a defense of Christianity as an attack on the Jews. In his recently published interview (Jerusalem Post, 12/23/06) David Irving issued the following challenge: "They (the Jews) should ask themselves the question, 'Why have they been so hated for 3,000 years that there has been pogrom after pogrom in country after country?' and it's the one question they seem to be very shy of." Irving’s challenge defines both his failure as “historian,” and his underlying purpose as Holocaust Denier.
Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome monotheistic Judaism may have seemed strange to surrounding pagan states, but Judaism was also admired and respected, even attracting converts from among the emperor’s own household. It was, in fact, this attractiveness and respect that made it possible for Judaism’s rejecting daughter, the messianic movement which took the name, Christianity, to grow and eventually fuse with the Roman Empire. But “hated,” Mr. Irving? The historical fact is that state-sponsored and systematic persecution of Jewry only began with the fusion of Christianity with the Roman state in the 4th Century, with the advent of Political Christianity.
'Why have they been so hated for 3,000 years that there has been pogrom after pogrom in country after country?’ Even his framing of the question gives away Irving’s purpose. The answer, of course is, because they have not been “hated” for 3,000 years. Jews have been demonized and persecuted qua Jews only since the appearance of Political Christianity. The “country after country,” and “pogrom after pogrom” referred to took place and continues almost exclusively in the Christian West. That Irving prefers a persecution time span of 3,000 years rather than the 2,000 years of Christian history defines both his identity and project: For Irving, in addition to his defensiveness and fear of The Jews, Holocaust Denial is at least as much an effort to defend Christianity from blame as persecutor as it is to transfer that blame to the persecuted for bringing about their own persecution. The answer to whether or not the Church under Pius XII actively or passively participated in the murder of the six million is still locked away in the closed files of the Vatican. What is not in doubt is that Christian dogma, tradition and history are the bedrock, the necessary pre-requisite and motive for Shoah. And this is the source of the post-Holocaust Christian guilt feeding Irving’s Holocaust Denial: Christendom continues unwilling to come to terms with its hate-filled dogma regarding Judaism; cannot, even in Nostre Aetate, find the will to reform itself.
Christianity faces a very basic problem because as it purports to promote, peace acceptance, and forgiveness, regards itself the religion of “brotherly love,” it also persecutes its “heretics,” promotes hatred against the Jews on such a scale as to inspire murder at the hands of Crusade, Inquisition and Holocaust. For the believing Christian, for the religion itself, this poses an irreconcilable emotional and logical problem. And if Christians cannot allow that their religion is both ideological cause and active promoter of that hatred, then denial is the only way available to square the circle.
According to this reading Irving and his ilk need not, strictly speaking, be “antisemites” just because they are Holocaust Deniers. Consciously or not they may just be defending their faith, heroically attempting to insulate Christianity and its basal teachings from its own dark and contradictory history. After all, proto-holocaust denial has been around as long as Christianity itself. The evolving justification for the triumphal charge of Jewish inferiority goes back to before Augustine of Hippo justified their persecution as punishment inspired by God, back to the gospels which themselves blame the Jews not only for deicide, the murder of their god, but for having those so accused as accepting blame not only for themselves, but for all generations to follow. One need look no further than the murder of God to justify any act of brutality by the believer. Even genocide.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
25 December, 2006