James Taranto uses a particularly vacuous column by Ellen Goodman as a starting point to eviscerate a particularly vicious meme that the left is trying to implant in the public's mind. The column repeats the sickeningly un-American meme that global warming skeptics are equivalent to holocaust deniers. (And it absolutely is un-American, I don't really care how many outraged shrieks that comment provokes.) Taranto beats that premise like a rented mule.
Wow, Ellen, thanks for sharing! But a few paragraphs later she tries to make a serious point and ends up making a serious moral and intellectual error:
I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.
No, Ellen. Let's not "just say" it. Before we make a truly invidious comparison, let's think a bit, shall we?
On our shelf sits a book called "The House That Hitler Built." It is a 380-page study of Nazi Germany, written by Stephen H. Roberts, a professor of modern history at the University of Sydney. Roberts spent 16 months in Germany and neighboring countries between 1935 and 1937. "My main aim," he explains in the preface, "was to sum up the New Germany without any prejudice (except that my general approach was that of a democratic individualist)."
The substance of the book is alarming, although the tone is calm and detached–so much so that it is eerie to read with the knowledge of what happened in the years after October 1937, when it was published. One 10-page chapter is devoted to "The Present Place of the Jews." At the time Roberts wrote, the persecution of Jewish Germans was well under way:
At present, the German Jew has no civil rights. He is not a citizen; he cannot vote or attend any political meeting; he has no liberty of speech and cannot defend himself in print; he cannot become a civil servant or a judge; he cannot be a writer or a publisher or a journalist; he cannot speak over the radio; he cannot become a screen actor or an actor before Aryan audiences; he cannot teach in any educational institution; he cannot enter the service of the railway, the Reichsbank, and many other banks; he cannot exhibit paintings or give concerts; he cannot work in any public hospital; he cannot enter the Labour Front or any of the professional organizations, although membership of many callings is restricted to members of these groups; he cannot even sell books or antiques. . . . In addition to these, there are many other restrictions applying in certain localities. The upshot of them all is that the Jew is deprived of all opportunity for advancement and is lucky if he contrives to scrape a bare living unmolested by Black Guards or Gestapo. It is a campaign of annihilation–a pogrom of the crudest form, supported by every State instrument.
To equate a denial of history and a disagreement over an unknowable future is morally reprehensible. The attempt to stifle, pressure or deprive employment to opponents who do not happen to toe your dictated line is un-American. It is a hideous violation of the First Amendment and the first step down a road we should all – left, center or right -rightly declare to be wrong. Reasonable people can disagree, but an attempt to silence those who oppose you is anathema to what America stands for. Read the section of Stephen H. Roberts' work that Taranto quotes. Silencing people has been done before. The results have been hideous.
The left has made a huge show about declaring how they have been "silenced". Usually live on television, mind you. But now they demand the silencing of those they disagree with. Who is really doing the silencing? Who is really suppressing speech?