Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Be All Our Sins Remembered

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the David Irving story. On one hand, I can't say I'm crazy about the idea of Holocaust denial being a crime. A sin, yes, absolutely, but making it illegal seems to me to be iffy free-speechwise, and also given to a lot of slipperiness. If the US did it, I am certain that I would be outraged.
But, on another level, I like the idea of Austria making it a crime. I like the idea that they refuse to let anyone mitigate their guilt, that they demand to stand forever, self-accused and self-confessed. There is a Talmudic quote, somewhere or other, that says that one who remembers his sins constantly has his sins forgotten by heaven. For a Jew to say Never Again is a defiance, a promise, a prayer. For Austria to say the same is a confession, a supremely moral act of repentance.
And so, free speech notwithstanding, I must salute the strength that it takes for Austria to say, "No. We have sinned. We shall not let it be hidden or denied. We shall not let it be forgotten."


e-kvetcher said...

I think it is ridiculous to make it illegal. Let's also make lying illegal, and while we're at it, let's make hating illegal.

On a related subject. I don't trust Austria, and I don't trust Europe, and I don't trust Russia and Poland and the Ukraine. This is hatred steeped in a thousand years of history. The guilt is fleeting. The hatred is there under the surface.

e-kvetcher said...

You know, I still have more to add. Austria may be saying it, but I don't know if the Austrians believe what Austria says.

BTW, in the New Yorker article about 2 weeks back Ariel Sharon was talking about the fact that when he was in Egypt negotiating in the early 80's, his mother would call him everyday to chat, and at the end of every call she would say "Arik, don't believe them."

This is how I feel about the Europeans. Every time I hear this contrition, there is a voice in my head that says "Don't believe them."

I like to think of myself as not being a xenophobe, but it is self-preservation.

Tobie said...

I can't say that I trust them either. But I do view this incredibly stupid law as a nice gesture.
I guess my attitude is one of provisional trust- I'm willing to entertain the belief that this is sincere until I get contradictory information, but I'm not willing to rely on this belief to make unwary decisions.