Guest Post By Laura Rosen Cohen: Freedom Makes Us Free

Earlier this week, with predictable aplomb, Bernie Farber-CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, published an Op-Ed piece in the National Post commemorating the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Equally predictable was his oft-repeated thesis that bad words led to the bad deeds of the Holocaust.

The time has come for right thinking Jews to repudiate this noxious and self-serving claim once and for all, and to permanently halt the use of the Holocaust as a tool for individuals and organizations to censor freedom of speech and ultimately, freedom of conscience and thought.

Mr. Farber’s piece was published in the same week that American broadcaster Rush Limbaugh was accused by Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League, of being an anti-Semite. The two events may seem unrelated at first, but actually do form a distinct and unconscionable pattern within the Jewish communal world. It is a result of the fact that the most prominent and vocal Jewish organizations around the world today are primarily liberal organizations, merely run by people who were born Jewish. Their agendas are not particularly Jewish, but jive coincidentally quite well with most “progressive” social activist tendencies.

Time after time, when Jewish “leaders” resort to their default position on hate speech and fatuous accusations of anti-Semitism, I am called upon by my exasperated pro-Israel gentile friends to explain why these “leaders” seem so hell bent on alienating them with their knee-jerk anti-Christian biases and their frankly completely un-Jewish moral support of censorship-such as the Canadian Jewish Congress’s support of the CHRC “Hate Speech” and other “Hate Crime” legislation.

Some of these “leaders” are Holocaust survivors, and some are children of survivors. Many are Jewish only in name, and use their Jewish-sounding names to invoke a certain sense of kindred, or communal values even while aligning themselves with the issues of the most marginal importance to the Jewish community. Indeed, barely a month after the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner by yet another Muslim terrorist, and several months after the worst jihadist terror attack on North American soil since 9/11 at Fort Hood, Mr. Farber puzzlingly turns his organizational focus once again back to Darfur, Rwanda, Kosovo and Cambodia.

The road from Auschwitz to the jihad against Jews and western civilization is a clear drive from Haj Al Amin Husseini to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Nasrallah and Saudi Wahabism-but liberal Jews seem ever more unable and unwilling to traverse that moral ground.

Why?

It is easier to fight the war that was essentially already won. Although reprehensible, it is easier to wrap oneself up in a pseudo Jewish identity entirely based on the Holocaust than to invest the intellectual capital required to understand our current enemies and the threat facing our civilization. It takes a bigger investment in time and thought to study and understand the real, underlying message of Jewish living-“to life”, “/l’chaim/”, and being a Light Unto the Nations. Not by liberal activism under a superficial cloak of Judaism, but through celebrating life, and the commandments given to us by G-d passed on throughout the generations of Jewish history.

It is easier to frame one’s nominally Jewish life in familiar, au courant fashion such as “social justice” and “/tikkun olam/” (‘repairing the world’) rather than struggle intellectually and morally the real dangers facing us today.

The real danger facing the Jewish people, and the civilized world is not Nazi words-it is deeds; beheadings, suicide bombings and highjackings with the umbrella name of “jihad”. Furthermore, it is morally and intellectually dishonest to point to insulting words as the root cause of the Nazi dehumanization of Jews.

It was the disassembling of Jewish civil liberties and civil rights that began the downward spin toward hell on earth. The descent began when Jews were stripped by the state of their rights to own property and businesses. Their physical property and humanity were legally expropriated. When the state took away the Jews’ freedom to marry whom they chose, and when the state legally defined the Jews as less than human, the descent was unstoppable.

If today, someone calls me a dirty Jew, I care very little-and frankly don’t need the state to fight my battles. If suddenly, in Canada or America, the state were to suddenly decide that because we are Jews, that we are not legally entitled to own property or that we are no longer legally full humans, equal under the law, then, Houston, we would have a problem and civilized, western societies such as ours would reject the state’s totalitarian, antisemitic plans.

Ironically, it is Jewish liberals like Bernie Farber and Abe Foxman who share a profound sense of cognitive dissonance about the role of the state in protecting Jews. The Nazi state and its laws enabled the dehumanization of Jews-not words and insults. Concentrated, dictatorial legislative powers were Hitler’s best weapon and were among the Nazis most profoundly and rapidly absorbed anti-Jewish functions within German society.

It is therefore incumbent upon us to realize that it is not work that makes us free.

Freedom makes us free.

And there are many among us, Jews and gentiles alike, who will continue to resist even the slightest, /almost/ imperceptible incursions into our personal liberties: speech, thought and conscience among them – even when made with the most noble of intentions and ostensibly to honour the dead.

Jonathon Narvey  – (8:38 PM)  

I see where Laura is coming from, but I think she's confused two lines of thought. To wit:

1. Bad words DO lead to bad deeds. There's plenty of evidence for this. I don't see the point in refuting it

2. Censorship isn't the best way to deal with hate speech. Besides, for the really vile stuff, we've already got perfectly adequate laws on the books re: incitement and uttering threats.

I expect I'll be responding more fully on my own blog in a bit.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (8:49 PM)  

Please do Jonathon, I will send your comments to Laura.

Xanthippa  – (9:16 PM)  

@Jonathan:

There is NO evidence that bad words lead to bad deeds.

To the contrary!

Bad words - spoken openly and publicly - lead to public debate, and, eventually, to repudiation of such 'bad words' and their meaning - at least by reasonable people. There will always be a few nuts out there - but, letting them spew their nonsense, ignored, will minimize their influence on society.

It is precisely when 'bad words' are banned from the open public discourse that their very 'illegality' lends them a 'mantle of credibility'....and, remaining 'underground', they cannot be refuted and fought with the truth!

Remember - pre-Hitler Germany had EXACTLY these laws which banned 'bad words'! Jewish leaders expressed great satisfaction with how these 'hate-speech laws' were used to prosecute those who said 'bad words' against Jews.

But, these laws are a multi-edged weapons!

When Hitler came to power, he was able to use these very 'hate-speech laws' to shut up all those opposed to him - he turned the very weapon of censorship which the Jews saw as their shield AGAINST them! LOOK at the RESULT!

Leaving such a powerful weapon around, for any would-be-dictator to pick up and use is irresponsible and foolish!

It was not 'bad words' which lead to the Holocaust. It was driving these 'bad words' underground, where they could not be exposed to the light and dispelled, like nightmares, with the truth and where they festered like boils, until they burst and their puss spilled forth in the form on Nazis!

Learn your history! Please...

Bad words do NOT lead to bad deeds. Censorship does!

Yariv  – (11:48 PM)  

The thing of it is that nothing is ever black and white. In Ms. Cohen's world she seems to need to parse every sylable written by Mr. Farber in order to diminish his message. She therefore gloms onto the censorship issue even though the article was a strong and evocative statement on the need for memory on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

To be sure Farber doesn't always get it right. However he is far more in tune with the average Jew out there than is Ms. Cohen. The fact that Ms. Cohen and other likeminded individulas ( many who are partial to this blog and that of Mr. Levant) spend inordinate amounts of time trying to attack Mr.Farber is ample evidence of their fear that it is his message that is more firmly embraced.

The truth is that not only is Farber still standing unscathed, but for the most part mainstream Jews and mainstream Canada still turn to the CJC to hear its voice...not to Ms. Cohen or Mr. Levant.

While I may take exception to the CJC referring to Kosovo as a "genocide" that is an intellectual argument to have civilly with the CJC. I was pleased overall to read Mr. Farber's memorial to the victims of Auschwitz and I know that many survivors will feel the same.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (11:57 PM)  

Actually Yariv it was Farber who glommed onto the censorship issue in what may indeed have been a worthwhile article otherwise, Laura simply pointed that out.

Bob Devine  – (1:08 AM)  

Its a good thing the Jews in Israel have their heads on straight and some jam in their pants. The help the are getting from here sure is not adding to their security.

Bernie Farber and his like are a disgrace to the cause they say they guard. Miss or Mrs Cohen describes the situation very well.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (1:37 AM)  

It was a very good and interesting crowd at the JDL Geert Wilders rally, proving many do understand the current threat, even B'nai Brith to their credit have been vocal about this. I have to admit it has been encouraging to see Harper act on CAF, Alternatives, Kairos, Rights and Democracy but as was noted by Professor Robert S. Wistrich, Canada may not always have so friendly a government, this makes support of censorship laws a potential peril especially given the declining Jewish demographic in Canada, he also pointed out leftist "feel good" nostrums such as MultiCult which the CJC fanatically clings to, are proving a double edged sword:

“There is one chapter – ‘Multiculturalism and its Discontent’ – where I discuss Canada, among others. It’s a stunning paradox. Multiculturalism was embraced as a positive development by Canadian Jews and was seen to provide many opportunities [and] tolerance of differences. But now we see in Britain, France, Australia…[that] multiculturalism can also be a double-edged sword. It can have negative side effects for Jews and we are seeing some of them now,” such as “cultural relativism. Certain common values are being eroded."



He also went on to criticize the CJC for their statement on the Swiss Minaret Ban.

http://tinyurl.com/yab2gbe

truepeers  – (3:53 AM)  

I think Jonathan is right that bad words can lead to bad deeds but to make simply this point without considering all the other things that lead to bad deeds is the intellectual trap of the CJC. What if shutting up bad words has a higher probability of leading to bad deeds, which I think it does. The realization that there may be no easy way out of the problem of being a Jew, of the problem of antisemitism, is what so many want to avoid; and i'd guess that explains much of any support the CJC has on this question.

It's a bit like the debate over whether violent movies/video games make for violent kids. Well, yes, they can lead to mass-murdering psychopaths. Fairly direct links have been shown in some instances. But 99.9% of those who consume these products do not become mass-murderers. And is it possible that if they did not have these products somewhat more of them might, paradoxically, become mass murders? - maybe, if these products provide some role in mediating/sating violent desires, which they surely do. Then again, the movies do stimulate the desires they have to try to mediate. I think it is in fact impossible to know whether violent movies do more harm than good. It would be very dangerous to live in a world that could not represent its violent desires in art; we need to let off steam; but it is also dangerous to live in a world that can.

People who have given a lot of attention to questions of sacrificial violence have had to struggle with the paradox that, historically, human sacrifice must have first emerged as a horrible but efficient way of mediating violent tensions and desires. Focussing the community's resentments on a lone scapegoat helped relieve tensions. The moral question of whether one should die to save the community was not much in doubt, until Judeo-Christian religion came along to challenge whether we really couldn't learn to live without human sacrifice. For a time, many took this possibility to heart. Much of the murderous 20th century was a rebellion against the allegedly effeminate, "priestly lies" of Christian morality.

...

truepeers  – (3:53 AM)  

...One way of looking at the Nazis is that they attempted (and failed) to realize the primitive logic of human sacrifice on a massive scale. They called not just for the sacrifice of Jews and other hated minorities, but also for a mass sacrifice of German youth, a great blood letting, as a kind of tough medicine in order to guarantee the foundations of a 1000 year Reich. THe fact that it lasted only twelve years, despite the sacrifice of millions, suggests how impotent human sacrifice has become in bonding the community in a common cause. Judeo-Christianity was right after all.

I think a similar lesson needs to be learned in respect to banning "hate speech". There probably was a time in the past when such banning did more good than harm, when insisting that people only said the right kind of things did more to promote social order and peace than to harm it. But I think the logic of that kind of sacrifice of human freedom no longer holds. In the modern world, hate speech isolates itself pretty quickly and is drowned out in our free sea of endless messages and mutual policing of ideas, in a world where success in the marketplace demands a great commitment to maximizing human exchange among strangers, by not offending too many people and by not cutting off exchange with the kind of hate that has no traction among serious participants in economic and civic life. Sure there are still many little Hitlers around, but in the most modern societies today they have no hope of attracting the kind of following Hitler had in the 30s.

What has much more traction today than "hate" is the ability to portray yourself as a victim of some power. Antisemitism continues to bloom because it remains so easy for many to see Jews as more powerful or privileged than other groups, because Jews, like Israel, are often more successful than others and they have the much-resented traits that make for success. IN this world, what is so dangerous for Jews is to become known as censors for this only confirms the resentments of the antisemite. I can envision a far great danger flowing from such perceptions than from anything the white supremacists the CJC has targeted can ever longer pose. THe Islamists may yet destroy the Jews but if that fight is going to be taken on seriously, hate speech laws will not be a serious tool. You can't just ban or silence the hatred of millions who feed off the media pumped out of the Middle East on the internet and satellite tv, without only encouraging it further. That's one lesson of Weimar Germany - its attempt to keep the peace by sacrificing the Nazis' hate speech was another kind of failure in the "logic" of sacrifice. ONly a full-fledged defense of a free society, by violence if necessary, could have kept the Nazis (or Communists) out of power

scaramouche  – (6:52 AM)  

I understand the need to feel safe. But censorship won't keep us safe; it will only ensure that we won't be able to speak out against those who pose a threat to us. Similarly, memorializing the Holocaust won't keep us safe; that, too, is being used against us: http://scaramouchee.blogspot.com/2010/01/shrine-to-victimhood-hijacked-by-jew.html

Take away censorship and the Holocaust and you've pretty much removed most of what animates the CJC. The only thing left, I suppose, is sucking up to Muslims and shmoozing with the eternally winsome Ms. Mia Farrow (so she can help you craft a "Jewish" response to Darfur)--and it's hard to see the net benefit in that.

flaggman  – (8:11 AM)  

Ms. Cohen nails it: the one true threat to Jews is a state apparatus that does not protect the individual and equal rights of all human beings. There are plenty of cowering neo-Nazis with laptops in basements, and plenty of openly hostile Islamists, in the Western World; but they are of little threat to Jews, because their views are incompatible with freedom-based Western society. Corrupt that society, though, towards the will of the Islamists, and the words can turn to action. Thank you Laura, the Post should have printed your column.

Yariv  – (9:11 AM)  

Farber has one line on evil words and that is what the detractors are drawn to like moths to a flame.

Farber has written a superb article honouring the survivors of the Shoah. Cohen has written her usual one dimensional "i know all and CJC is bad" blathering that, given the subject matter , many will rightly dismiss out of hand.

In the end this wonderful Holocaust survivor says it all:

http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=2498184

Blazing Cat Fur  – (12:23 PM)  

Not at all Yariv, Laura has merely pointed out that Farber attempts to advance his rights robbing agenda at every turn and that nothing is sacred.

Yariv  – (2:44 PM)  

Funny, all Farber said was evil words can lead to evil deeds. Here http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/756275--new-dangers-on-holocaust-remembrance-day Frank Dimant of B'nai Brith says much more including a demand for action against hate. Hell if Farber said that you would be calling him Jennifer Lynch :-)

truepeers  – (4:21 PM)  

Yariv,

Farber used the entire second half of his article, not a single line, to talk about "evil words"; there can be no doubt that he wishes us to remember the Holocaust in this light.

But surely a fundamental lesson of the Holocaust is that it could not be achieved by words alone. It required a total war and a total suspension of civil liberties, in other words the creation of a moment in which many were called to horrible sacrifices for "the good" of the German nation. To say, but it all started with evil words is merely true and not in any way profound historical thinking. As the author of the Gospel of John brilliantly intuited "In the beginning was the word". To grasp that humanity and all things human begin with language was a truly profound revelation, 2000 years ago. But if that's all we aspire to know, we don't yet know much. It is true that you can't have an act of sacrificial violence without the word, in whose name we we offer the sacrifice. But a lot has to happen between the emergence of the good/bad word and the organization of the sacrifice. People who refuse seriously to ask what that all involves are not serving the cause of Jewish or anyone's freedom. And the idea that banning bad words can have no ill effects, at least none greater than the bad words themselves, is naive. Let's not sacrifice to our anger and grief over the Holocaust our ability to understand it. That means accepting that there are no general rules about what good or bad words must lead to. Let us expand, not limit, our unpredictable, open-ended, human exchange as wisely as we can. There is no other way forward but hope in freedom, except for the tyrant.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (5:30 PM)  

A message to the CJC Trolls

God grow up Guys, I mean you CJC Trolls are dummer than a sack of Hammers but really posting from the same IP address under 2 different pseudonyms is a bit thick - and really illustrates how limited Bernie's support is, how embarassing for you.

Pete Charney
redacted@hotmail.com | 208.113.47.214

Mitka
redacted@hotmail.com | 208.113.47.214

And I see Yariv's address is 69.77.176.174 this I believe is the Lipa Green library at CJC HQ in Toronto.

Another fine day for the Bernie Brigade.

Revnant Dream  – (2:51 AM)  

She has him pegged.

laine  – (11:31 PM)  

What about the fact that Farber and his ilk are very selective about whose "bad words" they wish to limit?

Muslims in Canada have uttered much more documented hatred towards Jews on their picket signs, on the Internet and in their mosques than any other group in Canada has but the CJC still hammers away at the 65 years in the past Holocaust while giving contemporary Muslim threats in Iran and here in Canada short shrift.

What are we to make of that? The only logical explanation for this double standard appears to be that suggested by Michael Medved who observes that activist Jews hate Christians. Christians living today had nothing to do with the Holocaust and many lost their lives to defeat the leftist nazi regime that authored it.

Strange how most Jews pretend that Nazism was on the right instead of the ugly fraternal twin sister of communism and how they keep supporting the Left, presently the main source of anti-Israel sentiment.

The Jewish reputation for smarts is taking a beating when they make common cause with their declared Muslim enemy and continue to wage verbal war on Christians.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (9:17 AM)  

Sue930 you are a CJC troll and as such unwelcome here. Due to the past behavior of your cohorts you and they are no longer welcome here.

Liona Campbell  – (11:24 AM)  

You simply have to applaud how well you keep a tight hold of your blog limiting those that wish to comment.

Sue 930 gets swept up in the accusation that she is a "CJC troll" whatever that maybe.

From my vantage point it becomes anyone you simply wish to ban from your sight. You BCF have turned into your own worst nightmare.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (11:36 AM)  

Liona the CJC trolls have accused me of being an anti-semite. I do not have to provide a forum to viscious liars of their sort. I suggest you re-adjust your vantage point.

Liona Campbell  – (12:00 PM)  

If that is so then ban the ones who call you an anti-Semite. Everyone would fully understand and support it. However to ban all who support the CJC (which is really what it looks like)is censorship no matter how you cut this cake.

Blazing Cat Fur  – (12:13 PM)  

No Liona it is not censorship. They are free to comment on other sites, in the public square, amongst themselves at the Lipa Green Library, on their own blogs etc. I encourage them to do so. What I am not obligated to do is provide them a forum. This blog is my domain. Got that?

As for being against CJC supporters, well why not? They seem to think it perfectly acceptable to rob Canadians of their right to free speech, let them have a taste of their own medicine;)

muscocamoca  – (1:57 PM)  

I have to agree here with Liona. BCF,you would censor CJC types simply because you disagree with them?

I know you can convince yourself that shutting them down on your blog is not censorship but it is in effect a form of censorship. You are perfectly capable of doing this but let's not pretend its anything else.

For me, I guess I am a purist. I much prefer a free and open debate; no preconceived notions; hurt feelings, hell since when did you really care about that?

Come on Catfur its time to leave the CJC pro-censorship crowd and get on the total free speech bandwagon!

Blazing Cat Fur  – (2:08 PM)  

You may agree with Liona all you wish. It doesn't change my mind nor the rightness of my decision.

Denyse  – (2:17 AM)  

All I know is, if someone hates me I want to know about it.

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