Tuesday, January 19, 2021 -
Print Edition

If this is remembrance, we prefer amnesia

CNN anchor disfigures the Holocaust

Holocaust survivors wondered whether the Holocaust would be remembered after their deaths. Historians always regard accurate historical memory as elusive. Neither survivors nor historians could likely have foreseen the gross distortion of Holocaust memory that seems to emerge ever more frequently.

Recent case in point: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Her words about Kristallnacht in Germany, Nov. 9, 1938:

“This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened. It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”

The crime of omission here is that Amanpour does not not even mention Jews! This is like condemning American slavery without mentioning blacks. Holocaust-without-Jews. Anew form of Holocaust denial, courtesy of CNN.

The crime of commission is — news flash — that no massive, systematic destruction of houses of worship and no murder of millions of people have been unleashed by Donald Trump.

The absurdity of the CNN comparison constitutes its own refutation. As for Trump’s “values,” whatever one thinks of them, they do not include pogroms and genocide.

Once again, the resort to Nazism to manufacture a partisan analogy is a gross distortion. There is a word for this in the dictionary: transmogrification, “to alter in form often with grotesque effect.”

The responses to Amanpour reflect the current tenor and technically are accurate — responses such as “third rate rubbish” and “despicable” — but such responses degrade and deflect the discussion. When it comes to the Holocaust, the discussion springs from the targeting of an entire group for mass elimination. This merits denunciation, yes; but, due to its enormity, it requires care in comment, thoughtfulness in formulation, and adherence to facts; not facile sound bites and fallacious analogies. It requires time to engage in reading and research — more time than CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour cares to take.

After Amanpour was denounced, she acknowledged that Hitler was a “stand alone” in history and that her analogy was wrong. Then she said: “I regret any pain my statement may have caused.” She still doesn’t get it.

The issue is not pain. The issue is truth.

The issue is not the convenience of a date on the calender, irresponsibly exploited by a journalist under pressure to make an obscenely short pronouncement. The issue is an event that generations of historians still struggle to explain, stacked alongside the merest echoes of its scope and horror 82 years later.

That is what the 82-year distance from Kristallnacht is bringing us: the disfigurement of remem- brance. If only we still had Kristallnacht survivor Jack Goldman to remind us.

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Leave a Reply