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I've learned to be distrustful of mainstream conservative commentators, but I still had hope that Dennis Prager was one of the intellectually honest ones. Having read his latest column, my disappointment is immeasurable, and my day is ruined.
I understand that accusing someone of intellectual dishonesty without clear evidence that they are lying is frowned upon here and likely anywhere else that meaningful discussion happens. If anyone has a defensible reading of this column, I would greatly appreciate hearing it, because I can only see two possible readings.
The subject of the holocaust hits so close to home for Prager that he suspends all rational thought when discussing it, leaving him incapable of recognizing his own hypocrisy or recusing himself to avoid embarassment.
He is consciously trying to enforce a norm that you can't question anything about the holocaust; he is aware that this contradicts his encouragement of vaccine hesitancy and other forms of wrongthink, but he doesn't care, because those are forms of wrongthink he likes, and this is one he doesn't like.
The first possibility fills me with pity. The second one fills me with outrage, not only because I consider that attitude to be morally wrong, but because I consider it to be counter-productive. The best way to encourage holocaust denial, and the anti-Semitism that it so often leads to, is to tell people not to question any details about it. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that Prager does not want people to question any details about it whatsoever. He says so himself.
Prager does not define the holocaust as "the German government's mass-murder of Jewish citizens," or even "the deliberate attempt by the German government to kill all of the Jews in Europe." He defines the holocaust specifically as the murder of millions of Jews, meaning that if you put the death toll at anything under 7 figures, you are denying the totality of the event in his mind. If Prager was giving a live lecture, I would excuse this implication as an accidental result of speaking off-the-cuff, but this is a written column, which means he had the opportunity to proof-read his words and think about what they mean, and he still thought that this was acceptable.
Based on my conversations with others about holocaust denial and revisionism, I suspect there's an unspoken implication in this column that people who are neurotypical (or just not autistic in the same way I am) are capable of picking up on: that anyone who questions any detail about the holocaust is a bad faith actor trying to Ship of Theseus it out of the historical record. I've had many people, even in ratspace, tell me that this is so obvious a reason to ostracize holocaust revisionists that it doesn't even have to be stated explicitly when condemning them. Well, not only is it not obvious to me, but I think it takes an astonishingly poor imagination to think that there might not be anyone out there who, in good faith and without denying Hitler's genocidal ambitions, questions how many people were killed in the holocaust or what methods were used.
This is not a defense of Nick Fuentes. While I can't read Fuentes's mind, I have inferred based on his tone when speaking about the holocaust that he likely either doesn't believe it happened or wants other people to not believe it happened. The column, however, is not about Nick Fuentes. It's a column about the general subject of holocaust "denial," and it merely uses Fuentes as an example. And while I'm at it..
Prager, buddy, do you have any idea how many people on my university campus alone denied "Stalin’s mass murder of tens of millions of Soviet citizens in the Gulag Archipelago?" I don't, because once you're counting in the dozens, it's impossible to keep track without administering a structured survey. I know that Bob Avakian's group canvassed there every day for years without incident, while right-wing events were met with hostile protests. I was one of the first people to know that Quentin Tarantino spoke at one of their events, but it took Breitbart a month to report on my tip, and not a single other outlet picked up on it because they didn't care.
What world does Prager live in where Stalin apologists are marginalized, but holocaust denial runs free? It's not the world he lived in five years ago, because 3 minutes into this video, he approvingly quotes a professor's statement that denial Stalin's genocide is common. Did Prager's assessment of the culture change over the past five years, or is he just contradicting himself to effectively enforce his preferred censorial norms? I'm inclined to think the latter, and it's a darn shame. I used to be a Ben Shapiro fan until I caught him doing stuff like this, and my search for people who recognized the problems with wokeness without enforcing their own intellectual taboos drove me further right to places like VDare and Unz, because they were less obviously dishonest. Several years later, I don't think those places are particularly honest, but I'm sure they're more honest than Daily Wire, and I expect many people to get stuck at that level of the radicalization rabbit hole without graduating to the general agnosticism and confusion I'm at. Shit, now I'm getting emotional.
Also, whoever chose that headline did a bad job. Prager is Jewish, and his reference to hell in the column was clearly meant to be a figure of speech. Making it the headline makes it sound literal. I wonder if Prager approved it.
My opinion of Dennis Prager is roughly the same as Norm Macdonald's one of Hitler. And freedom of speech etc. etc., no disagreements here. However, here I must say that I understand where he is coming from (except the «If the Holocaust is a fabrication, Americans died fighting against nothing particularly evil» part – come on man, just pretend you give a fuck about tyranny and, say, mass killing of Slavs). It feels strange to put into words what a Jew has apparently failed at conveying to a sympathetic another.
The point is as follows. The number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is not just a sacred cow nor an academic sticking point. Six million – considering the incentives of researchers such as perceived immorality or danger of lowballing, maybe a biased estimate, but still close to the center of mass of my a priori model – is near the totality of Jews that had been living by that point on the territory controlled by Germany. As Praeger says,
Them having been killed, whether via gas and those absurd shower contraptions like mainstreamers insist, or indirectly via starvation and neglect, like some revisionists effectively tell it, regardless of proportion by method or nuances of timeline or sensational claims about particular cruelties, indicates the successfully pursued intention of a complete eradication of a people wherever possible – an intention one can derive from arguments in Hitler's magnum opus already. This clear intention is the main reason I feel disinterested in investigating revisionism (although I know that the mainstream can get stuck on asserting blatant lies, as the case of HBD shows). And, therefore, it is qualitatively different from killing hundreds of thousands, like in some vastly scaled-up impulsive pogrom. It was, indeed, a genocide, and it means that, were the Axis successful in its ultimate political program, it would have been the end of Jewry globally, the final death of Israel.
Jews, in my experience, have stronger sensitivity to existential threats than European peoples, to an extent that, I suspect, they cannot quite believe the difference, and mistake fringe right-wing white identitarian groups for «mask-off» evidence about the sentiment pervading, mostly subconsciously for now, the totality of the race. Must be an unpleasant mental space to inhibit. But they're still the sane ones in this relationship; and Europeans are abnormal by the standards of humanity, too liberated from the longhouse ethics BAP despises so, too collectively autistic and ethnically suicidal to recognize and feel viscerally what makes a genocide so «particularly evil».
Perhaps, as an autistic person, you're closer to white Gentiles in this regard.
The problem is Jews don't share your ambivalence to motives or means. If you deny an explicit plan for extermination, or six million, or "those absurd shower contraptions" then you are a Holocaust denier by definition. They do not take the position of "the number doesn't really matter, the existence of the gas chambers do not matter." Those things are sacred objects. If they are exposed as false, they cannot tolerate it and say "gas chambers or typhus, extermination camps or starvation due to catastrophic war conditions, who cares." They are all-in on a specific mythology and symbology.
It would be like saying Christ wasn't crucified, he died of dysentery in Roman custody. No Christian would accept that and say "who cares", because we aren't talking about historiography, we are talking about Mythology. Someone like you would just be mildly intrigued that Jesus died in prison rather than via crucifixion. But a Christian could not accept that update into his mythological worldview. "Jesus suffered a lot and died for our sins, but he wasn't hung on a cross." That's heresy.
Simply denying the gas chambers, even if you pay every other sort of homage to Jewish suffering in WWII, still puts you squarely in hell according to Dennis Prager.
The Holocaust mythology is a big reason for this. Perhaps the largest, in explaining European racial sensibilities in 2020 compared to 1920.
I thought that the line you responded to here was more about European passivity and submission to authority--they don't have the reputation for it quite like the British do (what with their surveillance cameras and the ever-memetic loicense), but Continentals lived under hierarchical monarchies for centuries and didn't much question being killed in wars started by their higher-ups for the longest time. Upon re-reading it, maybe your angle is more the frame to take, but I feel like one of the missed/forgotten lessons of the Holocaust is/was/could be/should be "it's okay to stand up for yourself and others sometimes, you know--it can even save lives."
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