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Small-Scale Question Sunday for December 11, 2022

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

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Is Holocaust denial becoming a more tolerated topic on this forum?

Tolerated by whom?

Revisionists occasionally popped their head up at the subreddit, but as far as I remember, their comments were always downvoted.

Some very highly-upvoted comments in the subreddit were in this vein. IIRC, at least one of those was removed by AEO.

The problem with Holocaust deniers from my perspective is that they're boring. I've been shown a lot of interesting evidence over the years that some number less than exactly six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany. I've also been shown a lot of interesting evidence over the years that there is basically no way the Germans were directly responsible for the deaths of less than several million Jews as the result of an explicit ethnic cleansing program, which makes the other stuff seem like motivated nitpicking. The religious fervor with which the Holocaust now often operates to shield specific Jews from cogent criticism is often absurd. But the level of ethnic criticism directed toward Jews as a group is even more absurd, especially given the diverse range of orthodoxies and ethnicities contained within the word "Jewish."

There is a phenomenon I have observed, over the years, where young people will discover something (often, sex/romance) that they've never experienced before, that they have arguably been denied for various (good!) reasons over the years but which, as emerging adults, they find very important to their worldview. They then become instant evangelists, full of zeal for the amazing, eye-opening, perspective-shifting truth they've uncovered. I've seen it a lot among the newly-atheist and the newly-political. I've seen it a fair bit in connection with particular diets, with natural childbirth, with animal rights activism. It's very popular right now in connection with race and gender. But I think the same thing happens the first time certain individuals learn that there might be some propaganda and/or nuance to account for in connection with the Holocaust. Suddenly a piece of Sacred Social Machinery appears Broken, and to a certain kind of contrarian mind, it's blood in the water: the frenzy begins.

It's enough of a pattern that I suspect it's built in, somehow, to our social consciousness. I can gin up a just-so evo-psych story if you like, but you can probably imagine it yourself. Doubting the dogmas you've received, and then coming to terms with the world around you, is a story at least as old as human civilization itself. But there aren't a lot of spaces where that sort of thing is tolerated "out loud," so to speak. The stronger the narrative, then, the more likely we are to field its doubters here. It's Eternal September everywhere, but we're one of the only social groups I know that explicitly takes a gentle hand to heretics of all kinds--even our own.