The “Middle Eastern Mentality” and Nazism

These two articles are both linked from Memeorandum at the moment.

In the “More Items” section, Think Progress reports that on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show yesterday,  Liddy compared prisoners at Guantanamo to Nazis, and Republican Sen. James Inhofe, from Oklahoma, answered that they are worse than Nazis (emphasis in original):

… Inhofe said the “Middle Eastern mentality” of the detainees is more dangerous than that of Nazis:

LIDDY: Well, you know, that’s as if we had a hundred or fifty hardcore Nazi rotten…SS prisoners and instead of, you know, sending them back to Germany at the end of the war, we just turned them loose in the American communities. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense.

INHOFE: Well, this is a little worse than that, I think, because you’re dealing with the Middle Eastern mentality. And terrorists, you know, they don’t care about dying.

In the “Earlier Items” column opposite, an Associated Press reporter named Monika Scislowska writes about a new Polish documentary that stitches together home movie footage from the 1930s to reveal a portrait of Jewish life in Poland before the Holocaust wiped out most of the Jewish population in that country:

Poland’s Jews were nearly wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust, then the communists who ruled the country for decades after World War II waged anti-Semitic campaigns and made Jewish history a taboo topic.

But a new documentary draws on a patchwork of amateur camera footage shot mostly by American Jews visiting relatives in the 1930s in Polish towns and provides a window into what once was.

It makes its debut in Canada, Germany and Ukraine in Polish next month, and an English version will be ready for the U.S. market later this year, Polish producer Miroslaw Bork said Friday.

“Po-Lin, Slivers of Memory” was conceived by Polish camerawoman Jolanta Dylewska, who was inspired to make the 80-minute film after coming across one of the home movies in Jerusalem archives in 1996 while working on an earlier project.

“That movie had an enormous emotional value for me,” Dylewska said. “People in it reacted with great warmth to the camera because it was in the hands of a family member, a close person. The camera transported that warmth onto me, watching the film 60 years later.”

The word “Po-lin” in the title is Hebrew for “You will rest here” or a “Place of safe refuge,” but it also means “Poland.” It was Poland where Jews expelled from other parts of Europe settled during the Middle Ages, making it indeed a place of refuge for 1,000 years.

But the specter of the Holocaust to come haunts the film. At one point, the narrator notes that the children in the movie have only 10 more years to live.

Only a few hundred thousand of Poland’s prewar population of 3.5 million survived the Nazi genocide.

When people today say that we must never forget the Holocaust — or for that matter, when we say that in general about any horrific event or period in history — what is usually meant is that we must not forget that it happened. But there is another way to forget, and that is to lose the understanding of the event’s meaning and significance. Sen. Inhofe knows the Holocaust happened, and he could probably define the Holocaust in its broadest outlines (‘the Holocaust was the murder of six million Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany during World War II’) — but he does not know or understand what the Holocaust was, or what it meant in a human or historical or cultural or political sense.  He doesn’t know what it was.

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