Mixed Feelings on Holocaust Comparison
Danielle Berrin’s piece (“Will America Re-Examine Its Shame?” Feb. 21) certainly has its virtues about what needs to be recognized as America’s sin, shame or national disgrace of 350 years as a house of bondage for black people — a story usually falsified for almost another 100 years by Hollywood. But her framing the issues the piece raises around “the black Holocaust” analogy — which deserves a trifecta for encouraging misunderstandings of the Shoah, of American slavery, and of the causes of current African-American problems — is not among the virtues.
I’ve explained before in other contexts what’s wrong and damaging about the analogy. Like many American-Jewish historians of my generation, I initially became a historian to understand the dynamics of slavery and race relations — not the Shoah —though my first serious scholarship back in the 1960s was a critique of Stanley Elkins’ work that conflated the two subjects. Because of or despite this, I am ambivalent about taking the flak in order to again explain what’s wrong with the analogy and why it matters.
If you think your readers really need to be reminded of what’s wrong with the analogy beyond just a question of a hyperbolic title, let me know.
Harold Brackman via e-mail
Thought provoking and well-written article. I appreciate that the Jewish Journal does articles like this.
Caroline Kelly via jewishjournal.com
A beautifully written, strongly worded piece on a subject that truly deserves to be discussed, and acted upon. It’s also a wonderful, thought-provoking piece for Black History Month.
Stanley Schweiger via e-mail
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the Holocaust as “the killing of millions of Jews and other people by the Nazis during World War II or an event or situation in which many people are killed and many things are destroyed especially by fire.” Slave owners did not strive to exterminate the slaves. Why would they? They needed slaves to work in the fields and to do other household tasks. There is no comparison between the Nazis (yemach shemam) and slave owners. This is not to suggest that slavery was a walk in the park for the slaves. It definitely was not. By comparing the Jewish Holocaust to slavery cheapens the meaning and experience of the Holocaust. World War II was a war to exterminate the Jewish people. Slavery was not intended to exterminate the black people.
Morton Resnick via e-mail
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
David Suissa has become my favorite conservative, since in so many ways he comes across as, well, liberal. His tongue-in-cheek recommendation to replace Foxman with Seinfeld is a prime example (“Replace Foxman With Seinfeld,” Feb. 21). If the ADL takes his recommendation seriously, it will develop humorous emissaries to put in front of its audiences whenever and wherever possible. Its motto might become “You don’t have to be Jewish to fight anti-Semitism.”
Roger Schwarz, Los Angeles
Great idea! Humor is really powerful and contagious. I think Seinfeld should actually feel honored with this suggestion and accept.
Desiree Kindi via jewishjournal.com
What?! You mean that cooking, washing the dishes and cleaning the floor don’t make me more sexually appealing to my wife (“Egalitarian Marriages and Sex” by Dennis Prager, Feb. 21). Hey, you haven’t seen me do these things.
Ed Burnham, Encino
Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad BDS?
I feel that Gary Wexler’s article regarding the threat of BDS and our bad marketing should not threaten the Jewish community, but it should make us aware that our enemies have re-energized themselves with recent victories (Where Can I Sign Up for a BDS Marketing Course?” Feb. 7). I am aware of what’s happening with the amount of back-stabbing Jews joining this ongoing campaign along with the Southern California Shura Council. We should be putting our efforts into a continued strong, creative Jewish continuity both in the United States and the Jewish state. At age 71, my contribution will be, in the next 25 years of my life, to contribute $10 million to groups/organizations such as our fantastic Jewish Journal. I urge the Jewish community to follow my lead instead of kvetching. Our enemies are indeed united, so let’s think and take action for a strong, viable Jewish continuity — with or without BDS.
Dick Bernstein via e-mail