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Thursday, April 12, 2018 

"Never Again" has proven ineffective

Jonathan Tobin's pointed out how futile it's proven since WW2 to say "never again" if nobody's made any solid efforts to go after those responsible for modern forms of antisemitism and racism:
In the last half-century, Holocaust studies grew from a small niche of scholarship to a vast field encompassing a mass effort to educate the country as a whole. It remains a noble cause. But it’s also appropriate to note that if we consider that its goal was to ensure that “never again” actually meant what it said, then it has been a failure.

Since 1945, that vow has been exposed time and again as a futile lie. Not only have mass murders continued to occur with numbing regularity, we also know that the many of the institutions and individuals who do the most talking about “never again” have conspicuously failed to make good on the pledge.

The horrors of the post-World War II era are too numerous to list completely. But while much of the world did not know what was happening during the Holocaust—though the leaders of the Allied nations who might have acted to aid rescue but failed to do so could not credibly claim ignorance—in real time, that has not been true since then.

Accounts and even pictures of the 1994 massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda were reported all over the front pages of daily newspapers. Ultimately, President Bill Clinton would admit that his failure to act was a terrible mistake. Author Samantha Power drew from this example of Western indifference to mass murder a theory of a “responsibility to protect” innocents from slaughter. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem From Hell: America and the New Age of Genocide, said that when hundreds of thousands of people were being killed because of their ethnic identity in Africa, “American leaders did not act because they didn’t want to.” While the lessons of the Holocaust had not been learned, Power hoped to inspire Clinton’s successors to do better.

To say that she failed is the understatement of the 21st century. A decade after she wrote that book, Power wasn’t on the sidelines. When Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime started killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians—and then also used chemical weapons on them in a direct echo of the Holocaust—she was a trusted adviser to President Barack Obama and serving as America’s ambassador to the United Nations. Instead of exercising a “responsibility to protect,” Obama and Power did nothing. Not only that, they actively acquiesced to Russian and Iranian interventions in Syria that ensured the atrocities would increase, while Assad would continue to gas civilians, as he did last weekend in the Damascus suburb of Douma. The ongoing slaughter in Syria is just more proof that talk from even the seemingly most enlightened and well-meaning leaders about “never again” is simply hot air.
Tobin's right in many ways, and it should be made clear that antisemitism isn't the only thing realists should be worried about. There's also Islamic-influenced racism and misogyny against blacks in Africa and white Europeans that's led to thousands of violent murders and rapes, and that too proves the "never again" slogan is being rung hollow. In fact, the failure of even Israel to officially recognize the Armenian Holocaust of WW1 has practically caused embarrassment, making the supposedly concerned look selfish instead of altruistic.

At the end, Tobin says:
...let’s cease giving leaders a pass for continuing to do nothing about genocide, as well as to ponder whether in overemphasizing universalizing the lessons of the Holocaust, we’ve unintentionally helped strip it of its real meaning.
Absolutely correct. Even in Europe, there's tons of alleged community leaders who epically failed to do anything to ensure the continent would be safe and also abolish bad laws that would undermine the ability to speak out against evil. There's only so many politicians and other such people out there who have to apologize for practically refusing to do anything to better the atmosphere, and they have to be held accountable for a change.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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