The first time I happened across the name “Philip Giraldi,” it was because of a letter that he had sent to my alumni magazine, co-written with another alum named John Taylor. The letter, in full, is as follows:
Holocaust as political industry
Peter Novick asserts that the Holocaust has desensitized us to other genocides, but stops short of asking who invented the Holocaust in the first place. Who decided to capitalize the noun “holocaust” and transform genocide into a political weapon and fund-raising tool?
In America, which had little to do with the event itself, there is an ever-growing Holocaust industry in academia. There is a Holocaust publishing industry and a Holocaust Hollywood. There are Holocaust museums and memorials trying to make concrete what might otherwise become dated and ephemeral. And there is the Holocaust-promoting chorus of wealthy and influential American Jews who make sure we never forget.
“Never forgetting” is the best way to intensify the collective guilt on the part of America’s Christian majority and boost the Holocaust industry’s favorite political cause—the state of Israel. Guilt, laced with liberally dispensed charges of anti-Semitism for opponents and sweetened with a heavy sprinkling of PAC money, has made the Israel-firsters masters of the executive and legislative branches. Easy and often exclusive access to the media shapes public opinion. And at the end there is a pot of gold: unlimited political and military support plus $6 billion in U.S. taxpayer–provided annual aid to a country that is one of the richest on earth.
Nazis killing Jews has become the paradigm for modern-day genocide, but the Holocaust is hardly unique in the 20th century, which affords numerous examples of mass killing. The politics of mass murder nowadays, as practiced by dictators and democrats alike, is all about killing people with words before you actually shoot them. Perversely, the Holocaust is used to justify killing yet more people; i.e., to “prevent another Holocaust.”
As Novick notes, George Bush didn’t really cite the Holocaust to “disabuse us of Enlightenment illusions about man.” He wanted to suggest that men can be evil to justify the bloodshed in the war against Iraq. Nor was George Will debunking the Renaissance illusion that “…man becomes better as he becomes more clever.”
George is a realist who appreciates the use of force majeure, as long as it is not used against him or his friends. And then there’s Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate high priest of the Holocaust. Never once has Wiesel spoken out against Israel’s deplorable treatment of the Palestinians. It’s okay to kick an Arab, but never a Jew, and if we keep on reminding the world that the Nazis killed a lot of Jews, we can continue to kick Arabs and no one will say anything.
Rwandans, Biafrans, and Somalis are even lower on the scale than Arabs, and there are fewer journalists standing around watching how you treat them. Why intervene to save them? The Third World is descending into chaos, and they’ll only be fighting again before the week is out.
In short, can anyone deny that most invocations of the Holocaust are cynical and bogus? The Holocaust promoters understand that if you keep saying the same thing over and over again everyone will eventually believe it; i.e., that the Holocaust is the greatest evil in history and justifies special breaks not only for its survivors, but also for their descendants and co-religionists.
Perhaps what is truly unique about the Holocaust is the ability of its exploiters to preemptively silence their critics. Surely within the University of Chicago community there must be many who recognize that the Holocaust industry has gone too far, that the Holocaust is far from being the central event of the century, and that its message of an exclusivity in suffering—serving to promote a Zionist agenda—is dubious at best. But the open expression of such views might be unwise. It is safer to remain silent.
Philip M. Giraldi, AB’68
John K. Taylor, AB’69
Fort Worth, Texas
Needless to say, this is repulsive. It attracted strong rebukes like this one, and this one. I wrote in protest as well. I didn’t give any more thought to the likes of Philip Giraldi, until I realized that he is something of a celebrity, and that the subject matter of his letter to my alumni magazine has served to obsess him for quite some time.
The scope and nature of Giraldi’s obsession is spelled out quite cogently by Noah Pollak, who wrote on the subject over two years ago. As Pollak writes, Giraldi believed–he still believes this, by the way–that Israel would try to instigate a war between the United States and Iran, that an effort is being made to frame Iran for American military casualties in the Middle East, that supporters of Israel (or more generally, people with whom Giraldi disagrees) are dual loyalists, and that Jews and Israelis control the media. In addition, Giraldi keeps track of how many Jews are surveyed in news stories(!). Pollak also reproduces the same letter that I reproduced above.
Lest anyone think that Giraldi’s lunatic ravings are restricted only to discussions of Jews and Israel (they mainly touch on discussions of Jews and Israel, of course), let me point them to this article, in which he graces us with the following observation: “Can it be that Obama is a tyrant on the order of the kings and princes of the nineteenth century? He is in fact worse, far worse, because he has the technology and means to monitor and punish every citizen through an acquiescent judiciary and congress, national security letters, military commissions, and Patriot Acts.” I recognize that there is a legitimate debate to be had regarding civil liberties, but this “thought” is about as insane as the “Bush is Hitler!” nonsense we heard not too long ago from various unhinged segments of society. I would ask whether Giraldi is ashamed to put forth such claptrap, but neither shame, nor an understanding of history or current events appears to be part of his DNA.
I bring all of this up because this past week, Conor Friedersdorf–in his capacity as replacement blogger for Andrew Sullivan–favorably linked to a Giraldi post which had Giraldi approvingly cite and support Rand Paul’s recent call to end foreign aid in general, and to end foreign aid to Israel in particular. Giraldi argues that an end to aid is justified, because “Israel is one of the wealthiest countries in the world (with a per capita income at the same level as Great Britain) and is alleged to be going through an economic boom.” Of Paul’s exhortations to end foreign aid, Giraldi writes that “[t]here has been curiously little coverage” in the media.
It’s tough to pack a lot of error into that analysis, but somehow, Giraldi managed. This comment to Giraldi’s post pointed out that there had been “350+ news article results” regarding Paul’s statement. And this commenter notes that “the UK ranks #9 in the world with per capita GNP of $24,486; Israel ranks #23 with $17,046, between Italy and Spain. A wealthy country by comparison to most countries, but I wouldn’t say it was one of the wealthiest.”
Of course, Giraldi’s post attracted some nasty and disgusting comments by way of support for his themes. If you can stomach it, read this, this, this, this, and this (in which “the standard Shoah” is questioned). In shocking news, we learn anew that some bloggers can’t write about Israel and Jews without bringing the anti-Semites out of the woodwork, and they don’t even try to do anything to disassociate themselves from those anti-Semites.
Given Giraldi’s plain and simple derangement, and the derangement that he excites in others, the question arises: Why did Conor Friedersdorf deem it necessary to throw Giraldi a favorable link, and to cite him as some kind of potential authority on the issue of foreign aid? Oh, to be sure, Friedersdorf cites Giraldi on foreign aid while at the same time assuring us that his decision to link to Giraldi’s post “isn’t to say that I want to eliminate all” foreign aid. But why is Giraldi allowed anywhere near the realm of polite conversation when it comes to this, or any other issue, given his insane views? Why is he given any semblance of respectability by a magazine like the Atlantic, which continues to maintain some respectability despite the determined efforts of the people associated with the Daily Dish to annihilate that respectability beyond salvaging?
Lest anyone think that this citation was a one-off, Noah Pollak informs us in the post referenced above that Andrew Sullivan decided to use Giraldi to beat up on Doug Feith back in 2008. No surprise, I guess; Sullivan is almost as obsessed with attacking “neocons” as he is in determining that Trig Palin’s matrilineal line does not flow to Sarah Palin. But in doing so, Sullivan linked to a Giraldi post that did nothing more than issue allegations against Feith with no source for the allegations named to question or cross-examine by way of checking to see whether Giraldi’s claims were true. Most news commentators would shy away from publicizing the kinds of serious charges that Giraldi issued against Feith without having had some way of checking whether Giraldi’s accusations passed the laugh test, but as we have learned long ago, Andrew Sullivan is not like most news commentators. Not content to have linked to Giraldi once in trying to trash a neoconservative–and by extension, neoconservatism itself–Sullivan was perfectly willing to link with a wink and a nod to another Giraldi piece in which Giraldi argues that neoconservatism is more of a threat to Israel than is the Khamene’i/Ahmadinejad regime. The argument is as predictable as it is appalling.
I guess this is the part where we point out–yet again–that Andrew Sullivan and his band of merry bloggers are out to destroy the Atlantic. Once upon a time (I keep writing this), the magazine featured the writing of Mark Twain. Now, it features the rantings of Philip Giraldi, rantings which are indulged by tools like Andrew Sullivan and Conor Friedersdorf. It is almost as though the people in charge of the Atlantic actually want it to crash and burn. Determined enemies of the magazine would act no differently than those currently tasked with leading it.
UPDATE: The comments to this post are being closed, since readers from Friedersdorf’s utterly disingenuous post either insist on writing in bad faith, or cannot cogitate. For those interested in what I wrote, why I wrote it, and why Conor Friedersdorf is all wet, go here. Want to comment on that? Go ahead, and feel free to take issue, but either be respectful, or be banned.