From the Holocaust to Saddam
April 5, 2004
We’re supposed to learn lessons from history, but the lessons we learn depend on who’s writing the history — and who’s reading it.
With the help of a few of our friends, we rid the world of a psychotic madman who used torture, rape and poison gas to dispatch his enemies, and critics mock us for calling him “evil.” We have yet to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the weapons that everyone agrees were once there because he used them — and our sunshine friends in Europe can’t see the moral purpose in the enterprise. They dismiss Saddam as just another monster coughed up by nature, a monster that we should have, or could have, ignored. The more these critics learn of his heinous crimes, the less they see how much his crimes mattered.
David Gelernter calls this phenomenon the “Holocaust Shrug.” It’s the head-in-the-sand defense for doing nothing. “The world’s indifference to the Coalition’s achievement resembles its long-running, well-established lack of interest in Hitler’s crimes,” he writes in The Weekly Standard. “I don’t claim that Saddam resembles Hitler; I do claim that the world’s indifference to Saddam resembles its indifference to Hitler.”