Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 8, 2003 / 6 Nisan, 5763

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Dear Germany: Have you learned anything?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | I grew up, as many Americans and nearly all Jews did, with a deep anger at your country. But as a young man, I began to rethink my views of Germans. Against the wishes of almost everyone I knew -- most of whom would not even buy a German product -- I decided to go to Germany. My visit in 1968, at the age of 20, was the first of at least a dozen trips to your country.

In fact, I became a defender of yours.

I argued that it was wrong to hold any German who had been younger than 13 years old during the war morally responsible for your country's horrific crimes. I chose the age of 13 because in Judaism, that is the age of moral culpability. I argued in 1968 that every German then under the age of 40 must be regarded as blameless, and we should not assume the worst of every German over 40.

I argued that because Volkswagen and Mercedes defied the Arab boycott and did business with Israel, Jews should not boycott German products.

I argued that you were our staunch ally in the Cold War in confronting Soviet Communism.

I argued, most important of all, that Germans were ashamed of their Nazi past and had learned great moral lessons from it.

The last argument, I now realize, was more hope than fact. There is no question that the vast majority of Germans are ashamed of Nazism and the Holocaust. But I am now as certain as I am sad that you learned nothing about good and evil from it, and that you are as confused morally today as you were when you supported Hitler. Not because you are evil, but because you cannot recognize evil.

This is stunning. Unlike the Japanese, who have ignored their atrocities against the Chinese and Koreans, you confronted your evil. You taught the next generations of Germans about Nazism and about the Holocaust.

It is therefore incredible that all that education about evil has produced a generation that shies away from judging, let alone confronting, evil. It boggles the mind that a nation that was liberated from Nazism solely by armies waging war should embrace pacifism, that a nation that saw what appeasement of evil leads to now embraces it.

I was sure that some German leaders would stand up and say, "My fellow Germans, we know a Hitler when we see one, and Saddam Hussein is one." But no German stood up to say this. Instead one of your leaders compared the American president to Hitler.

I was sure that some German leaders would stand up and say, "My fellow Germans, we know genocidal anti-Semitism when we see it, and we see it in the Arab world." But no German leader stood up to say this either.

Few of us expected anything from the French. From the Jacobins and the guillotine, to the Dreyfus trial, to the Vichy regime, to de Gaulle's withdrawal from anti-Communist NATO, France, with rare exceptions, has done little that is moral and nothing that is courageous. So the disdain that many Americans have long felt for France has merely been reinforced.

But I think that I speak in the name of many Americans in saying that we expected more of you. Because of what we did for you after World War II and during the Cold War. Because you, of all people, know that Americans are a decent people. And especially because of your experience with evil. How could you have produced a Hitler and not recognize another one just one generation later? How could you know firsthand about torture chambers and children's screams and not ache to end them in another country? How could you side with amoral France against your friend America?

There is, it would seem, only one answer. Nazism taught you nothing. Instead of learning that evil must be fought, you learned that fighting is evil.

But thanks for Bach.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to visit his website and here to comment on this column.

Up


04/01/03: Saddam offered professorship at U.S. college
03/25/03: Grieve for Rachel Corrie's parents, but spare us the hagiography
03/18/03: Blame the Jews?
03/11/03: The Lone Ranger rides again
03/04/03: Dan and Saddam
02/26/03: Which will the world's future be: Muslim, European or American?
02/18/03: When have millions of Europeans ever been wrong?
02/11/03: Don't waste your money on an expensive college
02/04/03: What the world would like the president to say
01/28/03: How memories paralyze: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat, cont'd
01/21/03: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat
01/14/03: Why the Arab world hates America --- time to myth-bust
01/07/03: Conservatives have talk radio; liberals have everything else
12/31/02: If you believe that people are basically good . . .
12/17/02: Lott, Clinton, and the problem of the career politician
12/10/02: The healthiest and longest living generation of humans since the 900-year-olds of Genesis are being scared silly
12/04/02: Morally neutral reporting is dishonest reporting
11/26/02: Understand Nigeria and you understand the Islamic threat
11/19/02: James Bond meets his most fanatical foe yet -- anti-smokers
11/12/02: Conservatives need to be more compassionate on divorce
11/05/02: Of course, the great majority of Muslims are peaceful -- so what?
10/29/02: Nice guys finish first: Thoughts on the World Series
10/24/02: A Jew defends evangelical Christians
10/16/02: Bigot laureate well represents New Jersey
10/11/02: Why the Creator must always be higher than the Angels
10/02/02: Loudmouth "stars" are remaining surprisingly quiet about Israel
09/25/02: Bob Greene is a good man
09/11/02: 9-11 made America better
09/04/02: What I learned at the Minneapolis Metrodome about liberals and homosexuality
08/28/02: Teach our college co-eds about Islam --- but teach them the truth
08/22/02: LET THEM EAT PEANUTS!
08/14/02: How the nuclear family became "controversial"
08/07/02: Every generation is tested by great evil
07/31/02: Those who curse the Jews and those who bless them . . .
07/24/02: Children should talk to strangers
07/17/02: Why my son's best friend is black
07/11/02: Why Hesham Hadayet may be scarier than al Qaeda
07/03/02: "Pro-Israel lobby" is not why America supports Israel
06/26/02: Why does the Left support the "Palestinians"?
06/19/02: The commencement address I would give
06/12/02: Why do adult children live with their parents? Because they actually like them
06/05/02: The stripper and the Christian school: Thoughts on what a Christian school should do when a parent is a stripper and on who the biggest sinner here is
05/31/02: Don't worry, New York, you are safe from a terrorist threat
05/15/02: A proud member of the world's two most hated peoples
05/10/02: What Israelis are saying
05/06/02: Thank Heaven for moral violence
04/29/02: Give back the Nobel Peace Prize: A letter to Elie Wiesel
04/22/02: Why so many students cheat
04/12/02: Is it 1938 again for the Jews?
04/05/02: It's the values, stupid
01/31/02: Smoke and lose your son
10/30/01: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis

© 2002, Creators Syndicate