Was the Holocaust the Result of Intolerance?

April 25, 2007

As I have been working a lot lately on a paper about the Holocaust, I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about tolerance and discrimination.  Was the Holocaust caused because of discrimination and intolerance on the part of the Germans?  I think that one would have to answer that yes, it was; it is undeniable that most Germans during the World War II era were blatantly anti-Semitic.  It was this anti-Semitism that spurned Hitler and the Germans to attempt to “purify” the Aryan race by removing the Jews from it.  Take a look at this snippet from Daniel Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners:

[Germans] had been weaned and fed on existing antisemitic culture, still heavily informed by the traditional Christian conception of Jews. This was now overlaid with a set of new charges — that the Jews […] worked against German national goals, that they were undoing the social order, that they were the source of the dislocation of the changing economy and society, to name but a few.

Now I’m not sure what Goldhagen is referring to as the “traditional Christian conception of Jews” — from my understanding of the Bible, Christians should respect and honor Jews as God’s chosen people.  (I suppose I could do a little research into this “Christian conception” referenced by Goldhagen, but I’ll put that off for another time.)  In today’s culture, however, where tolerance is preached to such an extreme that I actually want to be intolerant, seeing that the Holocaust occurred mainly because of hatred and discrimination against a minority is indeed sobering.

Does that mean that I believe the world is right in preaching unlimited tolerance today?  Absolutely not.  I love the title to Ryan Dobson‘s first book: Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid.  Yes, I believe tolerance is important to a certain extent and in some situations, but in others it is precisely what needs to be avoided.  Just what are these distinctions and specific situations that dictate whether tolerance is appropriate or not?  Stay tuned to find out 🙂


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