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Friday, December 15, 2006

Holocaust Denial Is No Joke

The Iranian Holocaust Conference is sordid and cynical, but we must take it seriously.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Click image to expand.Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki

On Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry held an international conference. There's nothing unusual in that. Foreign ministries hold conferences, mostly dull ones, all the time. But this one was different. For one thing, the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust dealt with history, not current politics. Instead of the usual suspects—deputy ministers and the like—the invitees seem to have included David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader; Georges Thiel, a Frenchman who has called the Holocaust "an enormous lie"; and Fredrick Töben, a German-born Australian whose specialty is the denial of Nazi gas chambers. The guest list was selective: No one with any academic eminence, or indeed any scholarly credentials, was invited. One Palestinian scholar, Khaled Ksab Mahamid, was asked to come but was then barred because he holds an Israeli passport—and also perhaps because he, unlike other guests, believes that the Holocaust really did happen.

In response, the United States, Europe, and Israel expressed official outrage. The German government, to its credit, organized a counterconference...

MrKen never ceases to be amazed at the intellectual dishonesty shown by much of humanity. As this article in Slate explains---

"...the victims of the Holocaust have written hundreds of books, and the scholarship on the Holocaust has run into billions of words. There are films, photographs, documents, indeed whole archives dedicated to the history of the Nazi regime: We all know what happened..."

But, of course Holocaust Deniers have already reached their preordained conclusion. These cynical, dishonest individuals have their own agenda---

"...Of course, Holocaust denial also has broader roots and many more adherents in the Middle East, which may be part of the point: Questioning the reality of the Holocaust has long been another means of questioning the legitimacy of the state of Israel, which was indeed created by the United Nations in response to the Holocaust, and which has indeed incorporated Holocaust history into its national identity. If the Shiite Iranians are looking for friends, particularly among Sunni Arabs, Holocaust denial isn't a bad way to find them..."

"...Earlier this year, in a distinctly eerie
open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he ( Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) lauded the great achievements of German culture and assaulted "the propaganda machinery after World War II that has been so colossal that [it] has caused some people to believe that they are the guilty party." Such views hearken back to the 1930s, when the then-Shah of Iran was an admirer of Hitler's notion of the "Aryan master race," to which Persians were meant to belong. Ahmadinejad himself counts as a mentor an early revolutionary who was heavily influenced by wartime Nazi propaganda. It shows...

To read more of this Slate piece, please follow the link:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Democracy Cannot Survive Lack of Reason, Thinking & Logic

The United States has been spectacularly unsuccessful in trying to spread democracy into areas of the world dominated by religious fundamentalism--even by force of arms.

Following are excerpts from 2 articles about religious fundamentalism, democracy & science from

“Perhaps the unpardonable sin of fundamentalism is its effort to make people suspicious and afraid of their own minds, their own logic and thinking process. . . . If we cannot depend on our minds to process reality and make choices and decisions in life, then we are more likely to depend on fundamentalist preachers. . . . How can a democracy survive if all of us renounce reason, thinking and logic?”

---Former Christian fundamentalist Richard Yao

Mr Ken observes that unfortunately, the U.S. itself has not been a democracy for many decades. It has become a corporate plutocracy--anti-scientific and anti-intellectual---with supporters that look to religion rather than logic and reason for solutions.

'Harold Bloom states that the problems are not confined to fundamentalism: “Fundamentalism . . . is viciously anti-intellectual, but so, alas, is most American religion, of whatever camp.” '

'Bloom’s observation will be true as long as American religion looks to the Bible for guidance. No other outcome is possible when people follow a book that instructs them to distrust and reject their sensory perceptions and reasoning abilities.'

'The Bible’s anti-intellectual teachings are a recipe for being out of touch with reality - which is a path to ignorance, misery, and disaster.'

'Those irrational and harmful biblical ideas need to be replaced by science - with its methods of reason, observation, experience, and compassion.'

Religious fundamendalists 'lack research and evidence needed to support the outrageous supernatural claims they promote, written in an ancient book by ancient, superstitious peoples who knew very little about their world, environment and universe which (lay) outside the borders of their own little patch of Earth.'

To read the full article, please follow this link---

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Washington Post OpEd: Bush is Worst President Ever

From the (dmsilev's diary)...

story, written by Columbia professor Eric Foner, will be on the first page of the Sunday Outlook section in tomorrow's Post.'

'The title, "He's the Worst Ever" really says it all, but on to the text:'

Several choice excerpts:

"Despite some notable accomplishments in domestic and foreign policy, Nixon is mostly associated today with disdain for the Constitution and abuse of presidential power. Obsessed with secrecy and media leaks, he viewed every critic as a threat to national security and illegally spied on U.S. citizens. Nixon considered himself above the law."

"Bush has taken this disdain for law even further. He has sought to strip people accused of crimes of rights that date as far back as the Magna Carta in Anglo-American jurisprudence: trial by impartial jury, access to lawyers and knowledge of evidence against them. In dozens of statements when signing legislation, he has asserted the right to ignore the parts of laws with which he disagrees. His administration has adopted policies regarding the treatment of prisoners of war that have disgraced the nation and alienated virtually the entire world. Usually, during wartime, the Supreme Court has refrained from passing judgment on presidential actions related to national defense. The court's unprecedented rebukes of Bush's policies on detainees indicate how far the administration has strayed from the rule of law."

"Historians are loath to predict the future. It is impossible to say with certainty how Bush will be ranked in, say, 2050. But somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors. I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history."

MrKen paraphases Gore Vidal, being interviewed this past week on the 'Tavis Smiley' show,

"President Wilson also had delusions of grandeur and steered the United States into World War I to "make the world safe for democracy" (whatever that meant)."***

"But unlike George W. Bush, at least Wilson could read and write."

***Of course Great Britain, our great ally in World War I, was the nineteenth & early twentieth century's premier colonial power, and fought everywhere to impede and restrain democracy around the world (MrKen).

To read more, please follow this link: