The price of Freiheit is eternal Arbeit
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, marking the 59th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp. The day is being marked all over the world, and indeed in my own workplace there was a special meeting of my trade union (the EIS) to commemorate the occasion. It was addressed by the EIS General Secratary, a history lecturer, and a female Muslim student who had recently visited Auschwitz and described her visit to the camp, the Schindler enamel factory, the Krakow ghetto, and other evocative sites. There was much discussion of the way in which Hitler's was facilitated by the 1929 Wall Street crash, which caused a search for people to blame for the economic woes being visited upon Germany. Jews, socialists, homosexuals: all made perfect scapegoats. In the same way, the recent rise in the profile of British fascism has been accelerated by the banking crisis and the Westminster government's subsequent "austerity" programme. While antisemitism is still alive and well, these days Muslims are a far more attractive target for religions prejudice, while the "flood" of immigrants from Eastern Europe fuels racism. It's no surprise that the Roma, who were the second largest group targeted by the Nazis, are on the receiving end of some of the worst abuse today, nor was it surprising when a UKIP councillor blamed the recent severe weather on gays.
I have a few observations to make on this sombre day. Firstly, that while the Jews were the largest single group targeted to be murdered by the Nazis, they made up only six million of the total of eleven million people slaughtered in the Holocaust. I have no wish at all to detract from the remembrance of Hitler's attempt to destroy European Jewry, but I think it's important to remember the trade unionists, communists, socialists, gays, lesbians, blacks, those with mental or physical disabilities, Roma and Jehovah's Witnesses who wound up just as dead as those six million Jews. (Meanwhile, some Israeli commentators question whether Israelis should be involved in commemorating the full horror of the Holocaust when Israel has its own day commemorating the Jewish part.)
It also seems inevitable that if I were to go out trawling around the internet on this day, I would encounter any number of present-day fascists who would be maintaining the tired lies that (a) Muslims hate Jews (b) Muslims supported Hitler (because, hey, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a friend of Hitler's so OBVIOUSLY all the world's Muslims supported the Nazis. Let us pass over the well-documented links between the Zionist terror groups who would go on to become the first rulers of Israel and the Third Reich (they encouraged Hitler to expel Jews - though not to murder them - so that they could form the core of the new Zionist project). Let me instead direct your attention to the Paris Mosque, whose Imam was responsible for saving hundreds of Jews from being sent for extermination. He provided them with false documents identifying them as Muslims, and this obviously required the collusion of several other senior figures at the mosque. On a related matter, Sir Winston Churchill is often cited as a hater of Muslims because of a comment he made when in his early twenties (see here, with a discussion including the parts invariably omitted, and the context in which it was written). It's very clear that Churchill; harboured no such negative feeling about Muslims by the time of the Second World War. Why do I say that? Well, consider this. In October 1940 the Battle of Britain was still raging. American involvement in the war was far off, and there were thousands of things requiring the great man's urgent attention. Yet what do we find him doing on 24 October?
On 24 October the Churchill War Cabinet authorizes allocation of £100,000 for acquisition of a mosque site in London (WAR CABINET: 276 (40). National Archives - See also Report WP (G)(40) 268 of 18 October 1940). The intent was to enable Muslims in Britain to build a mosque and an Islamic Cultural Centre, so they could conduct affairs pertaining to their faith. The gift was also intended as a tribute to the thousands of Indian Muslim soldiers who died defending the British Empire.
See also here and here.
The only way in which the lies of the racists, antisemites, Islamophobes and other fascist hangers-on can be effectively countered is with facts. For every lie or partial truth it is essential that the genuine story is made public. This is how fascism has always been fought, and how it is fought today. In the twenty-first century, while it may seem that as a nation we have learned little since the days of Hitler - else how do parties like the British National Party, Liberty GB and Britain First attract even the small followings they do? - but we understand how such evil ideas take root and are fostered, and we're ready to respond. That's why I spend as much time as I do in exposing the lies - sometimes downright evil, sometimes simply risible - of people like Bonni Benstock-Intall of the BareNakedIslam hate site. Incidentally, for someone who claims to be a Jew, it is odd that Bonni has made no comment about Holocaust Memorial Day (not even along the lines I predicted above). Of course, she considers that the leftists and gays merely got what they deserved, and that Europe's Jews brought their troubles on themselves by their sympathy for left-wing causes (Bonni believes that Hitler was an extremist of the far left). Or maybe it's just that President Obama has marked the day, which for Bonni must make it unworthy of consideration. After all, the only force in Bonni;s life stronger than her visceral loathing of Muslims (or anyone who looks as though they might be Muslim by reason of being brown-skinned) is her hatred of her President, who had the bad taste to be elected twice while not being white.