Just to prove that Texas doesn’t have the corner on hatred and intolerance these days, our never-ending search for the next big DUMB@$$ takes us to Germany, where, despite their history, there are still those who deny the historical reality of the Holocaust. Say hello to Ernst Zundel, whose seminal work, The Hitler We Loved and Why, set the standard for Germans who continue to think that perhaps the Third Reich wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
In Germany, activities that can be defined as “anti-Semitic”, including denying the Holocaust, are a crime. Given Germany’s reputation over the first half of the 20th century, one might understand how free speech might take a back seat in certain cases. Sadly, though, the German government doesn’t tolerate or appreciate DUMB@$$E$ in quite the same way we do.
Given Ernst Zundel’s lifetime of work in promoting hatred of Jews and the advancement of National Socialism, can any reasonable person really blame the German government for wanting to silence Zundel? After all, if your history included the willful and methodical extermination of six MILLION Jews, wouldn’t you be wanting to put that sorry chapter behind you so that you could work on once again becoming a moral member of the international community?
Over the past 60 years, Germans have struggled to put the Nazi years into some sort of perspective. While not wanting to ignore the past, Germans want to be able to move on. Zundel, and those of his generation should know better. Having grown up in the aftermath of Nazi destruction, Zundel saw first-hand what hatred can produce when taken to a logical extreme.
MANNHEIM, GERMANY - The trial of Ernst Zundel, a Holocaust denier who wrote the book The Hitler We Loved and Why, opened Tuesday with the judge dismissing a defense lawyer, himself a far-right activist convicted of incitement earlier this year.
German authorities accuse Zundel of decades of anti-Semitic activities, including repeated denials of the Holocaust ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ a crime in Germany ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ in documents and on the Internet.
Zundel, 66, faces charges of incitement, libel and disparaging the dead. He was deported from Canada eight months ago after authorities there ruled he posed a threat to national and international security.
Shortly after the trial opened, Judge Ulrich Meinerzhagen ordered defense attorney Horst Mahler dismissed on grounds he was barred from practicing earlier this year after he was convicted of incitement for distributing anti-Semitic propaganda.
Meinerzhagen questioned whether the rest of Zundel’s lawyers would be prepared to mount a “regular” defense after one of them described Jews as an “enemy people” in a motion.
The problem with trying Zundel is that he and his “legal team” are more than willing to view his trial as more evidence of government persecution. They will spare no effort to turn this into a political event, in order to attract and rally as much attention to their cause as they possibly can. If prosecutors choose to proceed with this case, they’d best be prepared to operate in the German version of a media circus. In the end, though, even if they succeed in putting Zundel away, their are untold numbers of supporters and fellow travellers who will willingly and eagerly take his place. It will be a veritable parade of DUMB@$$E$- not that Zundel or his ilk really care about how they’re perceived. To their twisted way of thinking, ANY publicity is good publicity…and I’ve probably given them far more than they deserve.
The trial was adjourned until next Tuesday to allow for a ruling on a defense motion calling for the judge’s removal. The judge, defense attorney Juergen Rieger said, “only wants defense lawyers who adopt the views of the prosecution.”
Zundel said little as he sat among his attorneys, but he has said that he is a peaceful campaigner being denied the right to free speech. If convicted, he could be jailed for five years.
Dozens of his supporters packed the courtroom, and Meinerzhagen threatened to clear them all out when many shouted “Shame!” as the defense complained it was being muzzled.
“These are measures not even used in the gulags in the Soviet Union,” Rieger told the judge.
He said that Zundel was targeted for “stepping on the toes of the Jewish community.”
A prominent white supremacist and Holocaust denier since the late 1970s, Zundel ran Samisdat Publishers, a leading distributor of Nazi propaganda. He also provides content to the Zundelsite on the Web, which has followers around the world ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ hundreds of whom demonstrated against his arrest by German authorities in March.
Before the trial, the International Auschwitz Committee said survivors of the death camp see the trial as “an important success” in the international campaign against Holocaust deniers who use the Internet to spread anti-Semitism.
Here’s the problem, though. No matter how much well-meaning folks campaign against Holocaust deniers and those who continue to spread anti-Semitism, Zundel and those like him simply don’t care. They hate being ignored more than anything, so being reviled and rebuked is like mother’s milk.
It would be nice to think that Zundel and those who would follow in his footsteps could be shown the error of their ways. The thing about hatred, though, is that it doesn’t react to reason, or logic, or evidence. It is what it is, and those in it’s thrall are generally immune to anything that for reasonable would diminish the power of hatred and ignorance. No, hatred and ignorace are often their own reward…and in this case, it also brings a DUMB@$$ AWARD. Few are more deserving of the (dis)honor than Ernst Zundel