Charles Johnson does Auschwitz — and gets it all wrong

My favorite wingnut racist blogger Charles Johnson yesterday wrote a piece commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a place the very name of which has become synonymous with evil. Johnson’s piece is well intended; it offers a sketchy, History 101-type description of the death camp, the kind of thing you can find on any number of Web sites. And that would have been fine, but he ruins it by coming to an appallingly wrong conclusion of what the lesson of Auschwitz should be:

If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

Now wait a minute. I am a Jew and I support Israel (though not unconditionally). But this is absolutely NOT the key lesson of the Holocaust, not at all. Far more important is the lesson that men, even the most civilized and cultured, are capable of doing the most atrocious of things when barbarism is permitted to flourish and when the basic tenets of human decency are discarded and replaced by notions of superiority. Another key lesson is that racial stereotyping of ANY group, be it gypsies, Jews, gays or Slavs, can have dire consequences. And another key lesson is how urgent it is that we have stringent laws, check and balances to reign in those who would abuse their power, and those who would see fit to torture and kill.

Yes, the plight of the Jews is a central part of this mosaic, but the lessons of Nazism aren’t simply about making sure we all protect Jews. It’s about making sure no group — Jewish or otherwise — ever again falls victim to the kinds of horrors the Jews faced in Auschwitz. It’s about preventing man’s basest instincts from overcoming his critical thinking.

How odd, that Johnson doesn’t see the extreme irony here — that his own site is the kind of breeding ground for hatred and racism that made Auschwitz possible. His embrace of torture, religious hatred and the notion that we can do whatever we want to those who belong to a specific religious group — the road to Auschwitz got started from precisely this deviant mentality.