Posts Tagged ‘hitler’

(This is kind of a Roman Railway post.)

Every so often, I decide it’s time to revisit something that I know just makes me happy.

Here’s a couple of YouTube videos that exemplify what I mean. This one’s got a guy playing music from Peanuts on the piano to a roomful of old people:



And this one’s got a guy called Matt doing a silly dance all over the world:



Both these things make a mixture of feelings well up in me. Joy, hope, optimism for the future, delight at the beauty that’s possible in the world. That kind of thing. It’s a happy, positive, self-reinforcing delight.

Of course, there are other kinds of delight that are less well intentioned. Every good action movie needs a good come-uppance, where we take pleasure not just in the positive outcome for the good guys, but in the much-deserved suffering of the villains. If the bad guy isn’t frustrated, furious, or dead at the end of it all, why bother?

I think this second kind of delight, while common and understandable, is morally problematic. I’m not sure that outwardly exhibiting pleasure directly stemming from someone else’s distress is ever actually okay.

I don’t mean to casually label basically everyone on the planet as a monster, here. The urge to revel in an opponent’s defeat is a very strong one, and a very human one. You probably don’t have to go back very far in this blog to find examples of me being just as guilty of it as anyone. It’s far from the worst thing you can do.

But still, I’m not sure it’s ever the right thing to do. Taking pleasure from someone else’s negative emotions might be something we should, in every instance, strive to avoid. It’s beneath us as compassionate human beings.

One particular example of the uglier side of joy, which springs most easily to my mind, is the malicious glee that repeatedly emerges from certain quarters every time a news story about Margaret Thatcher’s failing health emerges. There are plenty who find pleasure in these facts, and have long since announced the excitement with which they’re anticipating the week-long street party when she finally dies.

I don’t agree with any of Thatcher’s politics, but the crowing over her eventual passing just seems unnecessary and vile. There’s nothing positive about it to celebrate; it’s not like her despotic hold over us is finally being broken, or the things she did which you disagree with will somehow be undone. Another human consciousness will simply cease to be, and another woman (who you also probably don’t like very much) will mourn the loss of her mother.

She might be close, but Margaret Thatcher’s not the ultimate right-wing boogey-man. Let’s bring this one all the way. It’s time to talk Hitler.

Was it a good thing when Hitler died?

Millions were filled with joy when they heard the news, and it’d be insane to begrudge them that. It wasn’t just one man’s death they were celebrating; it was the prospect of an end to a war that had killed millions over the course of too many years. They were delighted by the prospect of being able to live again in safety, of not having to live under a brutal Nazi regime, of no longer having to live in terror regarding the fates of their loved ones. There was a lot to celebrate when Hitler died.

Its consequences were joyful, of course. But the death of a man itself? I still say there’s no joy in that.

Many of those millions would disagree. They’d have been thrilled to be rid of him, not just for the hope of peace that ensued. And I can’t criticise anyone too harshly for that. None of my loved ones have ever been torn apart by shrapnel or taken away and gassed. I can’t condemn anyone for finding a grim satisfaction knowing Hitler was dead, or even outright jubilation that the bastard finally got what was coming to him. Of course I can see their point.

But still I think there’s a better way to be. A more positive way to approach the world. And while I’m not so unreasonable as to chastise anyone who can’t get there immediately, and can understand entirely why the catharsis of schadenfreude might sometimes feel necessary, I think this better way is always worth aspiring to.

Take heart from the positive. Move on from the negative.

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I’m an optimist.

At least, I try to be, but it probably won’t work.

One of the ways in which I like to hope that things will all work out okay in the end, without any real justification except not wanting to feel depressed, is that kids won’t be permanently screwed up by stuff like this. It’s creepy as hell watching children repeating any kind of dogmatic nonsense their parents have clearly drilled into them, possibly without even really understanding what they’re saying, but in time they’ll grow up and be able to make their own decisions about this, right?

I mean, this kid‘s clearly just enjoying the attention he’s getting from making a lot of noise like he’s seen some grown-ups do. He’s not been irreversibly indoctrinated with anything. He’s still got a chance to grow up into a rational thinker of some kind, right?


Well, it turns out that sometimes this desperate optimism isn’t entirely misplaced.

In the UK, the “Nazi teeny boppers” of the American band Prussian Blue – also the name of a compound used in gas chambers in Hitler’s Germany – are probably best recognised from the Louis Theroux documentary made about them some years ago. The band consisted of two young sisters, who started performing from age 9, driven at least in part by their white supremacist mother.

They were cute and blonde and innocent-looking and played guitar and sang songs about how the Holocaust never happened and black people are ruining their country, and it was creepy and wrong for all the obvious reasons.

But these days, they don’t do that any more.

The sisters are 19 now, and “pretty liberal” and want to exert “love and positivity”.

They’re still not so sure about the whole Holocaust thing. But, it looks like they might be growing up in exactly the kind of way my na├»ve optimism would have blindly hoped for. Frankly, I have more respect for them than for the people who sent them death threats in the name of tolerance and liberalism when they were twelve years old.

(h/t Orac)

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They were bad.

Reel ’em in with a bold, controversial statement. I sure know how to keep a captive audience.

Let’s trying something a little more specific:

The Nazi movement had a strong religious component, and strong ties to the Catholic Church. Most Nazis were Christians.

However: The Nazis were bad for reasons almost entirely unrelated to Christianity.

Similarly: Many Christians are good. Those who are bad are, almost universally, bad for reasons entirely unrelated to Nazism.

My point is this:

When atheists bring up the fact that Nazi Germany banned books which promoted Darwinism or disparaged Christianity, it’s not because we’re claiming that all Christianity is evil and all Christians are evil because of some Nazi connection.

It’s because people won’t stop doing exactly that to us.


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Well, the Popal visit is off to a great start. He’s called me a Nazi and he’s given Stephen Fry a badge.

Okay, not quite.

His Popiness is currently, in the UK, though, and already he’s given a speech comparing atheists to Nazis, in which it’s strongly implied that the Holocaust was among the many atrocities of “atheist extremism of the twentieth century”.

You might be surprised to learn, as Pope Daddy informs us, that the Nazis “wished to eradicate God from society”. The Nazis might have been surprised to learn this too, and they certainly weren’t doing a very good job of eradicating him if they couldn’t even get him off their belt buckles.

Hitler described himself as undertaking a “fight against the atheistic movement”. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he believed he was doing “the Lord’s work”. Pictures of Hitler engaging with Catholic authorities are not hard to google. And the Pope, as a child, was a member (albeit conscripted and not necessarily willing or enthusiastic) of the “Hitler Youth”, a paramilitary organisation of the Nazi party.

His condemnation of atheists as some kind of dangerous fascistic extremists seems flimsy, disingenuous, and deeply ignorant, is my point. Dawkins’s takedown is pretty awesome.

And Stephen Fry really did get a badge. Not directly from the pope, but from fellow credit to the nation Phill Jupitus, as a mark of pride at one of his latest accomplishments. Specifically, Stephen Fry is hated by the Daily Mail.

I won’t summarise. The man says it all. Heart.

And finally, I was bored at work today and tweeted a few little known #popefacts, which I’ll replicate here. Feel free to join in the fun.

If you meet the Pope’s gaze directly, you might need to spend a minute staring at the Sun to counteract the darkness. #popefacts

The Pope can be left alone in a room with a tea-cosy for up to sixteen hours without trying it on. #popefacts

If bears are Catholic, logic dictates that the Pope must shit in the woods. #popefacts

If you rearrange the letters of “The Pope”, get rid of some, and add some others, you get the phrase “has never masturbated”. #popefacts

Alternately: If you rearrange the letters of “The Pope”, the Vatican’s postmaster-general will shout at you. #popefacts

The Popemobile is installed with bulletproof glass, which has so far successfully thwarted all God’s attempts to shoot him. #popefacts

The Pope no longer kisses tarmac, ever since a holiday fling with a driveway ended acrimoniously last summer. #popefacts

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What’s the connection, you ask? Well, they’re both the subject of the blog post you’re reading now.

Yeah, I’m not really tying them together in any way. Actually I’ve just thought of a way I could. When Crispian Jago drank a homeopathic dilution of his own urine, common knowledge states that some small number of the water molecules from his sample had also once been drunk by Adolf Hitler.

And because the most potent homeopathic solutions are the ones containing the least active ingredient, and because the number of Hitler-water molecules he was starting with was statistically very small… Crispian Jago absorbed into his system a potion that was almost 100% essence of Hitler. Holy crap.

I swear that literally just occurred to me as I was typing it. I’m going to have to let that sink in and examine the ramifications more thoroughly at some later time.

For now, I’ll just get on with what I was going to say.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine sounds like a pretty official, mainstream, reputable journal, right? Just going by the title, it doesn’t exactly sound like a wacky fringe part of the Alternative and Complementary Medicine movement. It’s not using all sorts of long-winded buzzwords to try and make itself sound relevant while actually just being churned out by a couple of hacks with access to paper and crayons. It’s a proper journal. It’s the journal for this branch of medicine, with proper peer review and everything.

They also don’t seem to mind publishing utter, undeniable bullshit.

I don’t know who Dr Lionel Milgrom is, but he’s apparently someone people have heard of in the realm of homeopathy. The JACM printed an article of his recently, in which he apparently said this:

The British Chiropractic Association recently won a libel case against the science writer and CAM “skeptic” Dr Simon Singh for publishing an article in a British newspaper in which he accused them of promoting “bogus” treatments.

The judge agreed with this argument, awarding the BCA substantial damages.

Um. No. Neither of those things has happened. Nothing that even sounds like either of those things has happened if you’ve had at least one sensory organ functioning properly and pointed in the general direction of the English courts lately.

I just… it’s bewildering. It’s not even like this is some subtle point of legal technicality which it’s easy to misinterpret. When your fact-checking is this much worse than mine, you have serious problems.

Jack of Kent is all over this one. It’s really funny. I particularly like the bit where Milgrom tries to explain what the libel suit was about, but accidentally ends up arguing part of Simon Singh’s defence for him.

The racism part was going to be about this excellent post looking at the recent tabloid vilification of Nick Griffin and placing it in the context of some of the tabloids’ own recent headlines. Well worth a look, though I’m too lazy to add my own commentary now.

I have no other news, except that I also left another comment on this article earlier, because some idiocy just keeps coming back.

Night night.

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Maybe I should subscribe to regular email news updates from WorldNetDaily. Or maybe my walls are just fine without a regular pattern of head-imprints.

Seriously, the fucktardery there would never leave me short of material, even if the same thing couldn’t be said for my sanity. I don’t go there much myself, but they get talked about plenty by braver souls than me around the blogosphere. I don’t really have the time or inclination to formulate an actual counter-argument to any of this bullshit, though gay rights is something I’ll add to my list of possible topics to discuss in the Skeptictionary someday (perhaps under a general heading of Humanism, or something) – for now, then, it’s bullet-point sarcasm time.

To begin with, there is no such thing as homophobia. A phobia is defined as a fear or anxiety that exceeds normal proportions.

You’re attributing to the English language way too much consistency if you expect homophobia to simply mean “a phobia of homos”. It is a rich and complex tongue, where inflammable means flammable, a parkway and a driveway give entirely misleading instructions as to their purpose, and a male homophobe can also be a cunt.

Odd, isn’t it, that you never hear about latent heterosexuals?

Yes, quite astounding that people unsure about unfamiliar feelings of attraction toward the opposite sex that they can’t ignore, are so rarely compelled to repress and hide these feelings and try to deny what’s going on inside them. Especially when you consider how much heterosexual urges have been reviled as unclean and ungodly by such huge swathes of society for so long, and being a “straight” has become such a social stigma; you’d have thought any man finding himself interested in a woman would do his best to keep very quiet about it.

Even the ancient Greeks, to whom modern-day gays enjoy comparing themselves, never engaged in anything quite as bizarre as same-sex marriages.

Wikipedia has a variety of articles on Pederasty in ancient Greece, Philosophy of Greek pederasty, and so forth. The amount of poetry these guys wrote about pretty young boys is astonishing. You really think modern gay marriage would have freaked them out as much as it does you?

Homosexuals like to picture themselves as the innocent victims of the oppressive majority.

Fuck you. Just… fuck you.

It’s silly enough when they feel they can use logic to disprove the existence of God.

Gays are trying to disprove the existence of God? Oh wait, he’s moved onto atheists now. My mistake. Yeah, those damn atheists, with their logic, and reason, and coherent arguments… yeah.

While it’s true that Germany had been a traditionally Christian nation, Hitler was neither German nor Christian. He and his followers were pagans. They didn’t march and murder under the cross of Jesus Christ, but under the swastika of Adolf Hitler.

Yeah, no Jesus for Hitler, and no Christianity for the Nazis. It must be nice when you can simply close your eyes and make the world seem just how you want it to.

Oh, whatever, I’m going to bed.

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I haven’t written anything here yet about Conservapedia, which is one of those subjects I really have to vomit some bile over before I can truly claim to be blogging with the big boys. If you’re not familiar, this place is hilarious. It intends to redress the unfair secular and liberal bias propagated by reality Wikipedia, which we are informed is a more anti-intellectual, long-winded resource, which allows “numerous assertions that are based merely on journalists’ (biased) opinion”. Are you laughing milk out of your nose yet? If not, this site must be new to you.

It’s the most brilliant example of Poe’s law in effect: Without a blatant display of humour, it is impossible to tell the difference between religious Fundamentalism and a parody thereof. (I checked that on Wikipedia, though that one does need a citation.) If someone had had the idea for Conservapedia as a joke, and wanted to set up a fake, satirical site purporting to be a bias-free version of Wikipedia which was actually a right-wing Christian nut-fest, I honestly can’t imagine them doing better than this. You’ll have to go browsing yourself to get the full flavour, but I’ll compare and contrast entries from the two ‘pedias on a few topics. (Given the nature of wikis, things may have changed by the time you read them, but all the quotes are accurate as I’m reading them on September 6th 2008.)

Wikipedia: Common Era, often abbreviated to CE (which can also be read as Christian Era or Current Era), has been used for centuries as an alternative to AD for the system of numbering years. Before then, it derived from vulgaris aerae, a latin phrase translated as “vulgar [or common] era”, first used in the early 17th century. There are 74 references to back things up.
Conservapedia: HISTORICAL REVISIONISM!!!1! Seriously. If we don’t keep using a particular historical event with no significance to most people in the world as a yardstick for all our measurement of time, this is an attempt “to erase recognition for the Christian basis of the calendar”. Even if we still measure from that time, but don’t call it the same thing. The entry also notes that only Christianity gets picked on this way, and the remnants of Norse gods in the days of the week remain. Obviously this system is maintained by a bunch of anti-Christian Thor-panderers who are really running things. There is precisely one reference, backing up a page full of claims like “The established calendar dating system is based on the approximate birthday of Jesus, and no one disputes that” (emphasis mine). That one reference links to a Jewish Information Resource, where one rabbi answering one question doesn’t know where the use of the term CE originates. This, apparently, is enough to establish “that the term “Common Era” did not come from Judaism”. This is a thing they take really seriously, too. They have seven Commandments that govern the use of the site, the third of which is not to use CE or BCE.

Wikipedia: Jesus is an incredibly complex and controversial subject of discussion. His article goes on for many pages, covering a detailed account from the gospels, the many different historical perspectives, descriptions of the way he is seen in various religions, and links to dozens upon dozens of other pages, covering countless major events, perspectives, and aspects of his legacy in more detail. There are 178 references.
Conservapedia: “Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and prophesied Messiah”. Stated as fact in the opening line. Oh, and their first Commandment is that “Everything you post must be true and verifiable”. Sorry, should’ve warned you that was coming so you’d have a chance to recalibrate your irony meters; hope they didn’t just explode and cause too much damage. Most of the page is an account of his life simply as described in the Bible. There are twelve references, four of which are Bible verses.

Wikipedia: Atheism is a rejection of theism, or an active disbelief in gods, which atheists support in a variety of ways. There’s a discussion of the history of the term’s usage, a lot of detail about the thinking behind it and arguments made over the years, and of related philosophies like secular humanism and naturalism. 124 references.
Conservapedia: The biggest section of their article of the year is “Criticism of Atheism”, which includes links to whole other pages on “Atheism and Mass Murder” (with a nice picture of Stalin next to it), “Atheism and Morality” (under the heading “Atheism and Immoral Views” – that one gets off onto a bizarre digression about how amazingly prophetic the Bible was to warn against homosexuality, because it’s so unhealthy, you see), “Atheism and suicide”, “Atheism and deception”, an irrelevant paragraph about “Evolutionary Position Gradually Losing Public Support”, and “Causes of Atheism”. This last begins with “Moral depravity”, includes “Poor relationship with father”, and just goes downhill from there. 201 references, and I can’t find one that actually links to anything representing the other side. Don’t forget, they don’t censor “any facts that comport with the basic rules”.

Wikipedia: Unsurprisingly sensible and detailed things to say on evolution, which I won’t go into here in detail.
Conservapedia: “…a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the theory of evolution which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists”. There are “many” [citation needed] who are against the theory and assert that it has “a multitude of serious problems”. The first such problem listed is that most Americans don’t believe it. If you look more broadly, of course, the majority of the world would find a similar problem with the theory of Jesus’ divinity, but, y’know, that’s totally different. Somehow. And: “The fossil record does not support the theory of evolution”, it is stated flatly, with three supporting reference links, which I’m sure sum up and analyse every argument and perspective conclusively. I’m lying, they don’t, this place is fucking retarded and I’m getting too tired to find it funny any more. Their page on evolution has pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Darwin’s head on a monkey’s body, for fuck’s sake. Fuck these fuckers.

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