“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for July 15th, 2009

Pre-War Attitudes.

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This book review at the Tablet highlights some of the prevalent attitudes found in British Embassies pre-WW2:

” Take Thea Scholl, a 22-year-old Jewish woman from Vienna, who was desperate to get to Britain after the Anschluss brought Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. Most categories of workers were denied entry into Britain, which feared competition for jobs during the Depression—Dwork and van Pelt quote the official instructions to British consulates, which barred “small shopkeepers, retail traders, artisans … agents and middlemen … lawyers, doctors and dentists.” The one type of worker Great Britain needed was domestic servants, so Thea Scholl applied to be a servant, even though she was from a prosperous family and “had never done any housework,” as she later recalled. When she showed up at the British consulate in Vienna, she was given an impromptu test: “I had to show my hands at the consulate, probably to prove that they were not manicured and that I was able to work …. Then I had to clean a bathroom, to show that I could do so.” Her scrubbing was convincing enough, and Scholl was able to leave Austria the day before Christmas, leaving her parents behind.

This was a trivial humiliation, of course, but it brings home just what it meant to become a refugee. A Jew’s sense of herself—her history, resources, relationships, desires, expectations—all vanished. She became a supplicant, forced to do and say anything that might convince an indifferent official to give her a lifesaving visa. Nothing about a human being mattered except his or her passport, as the crusading American journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote in 1938: “It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death, and that scores of people have blown their brains out because they could not get it.” Dwork and van Pelt might also have quoted W.H. Auden’s poem “Refugee Blues”:

The consul banged the table and said:
“If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead”;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive….

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

The determined refusal of the democracies to open their doors to German Jews is notorious. Hitler himself jeered at the West’s hypocrisy: “It is truly a shaming display when we see today the entire democratic world filled with tears of pity at the plight of the poor, tortured Jewish people, while remaining hardhearted and obstinate in view of what is therefore its obvious duty: to help.” Dwork and van Pelt choose not to retell the famous story of the St. Louis, the ship carrying a thousand Jewish refugees that was refused permission to dock in the United States in 1939. But Flight from the Reich is full of similar nightmares.” “

This is the book.

Written by modernityblog

15/07/2009 at 22:45

Submitted To Moderation

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It seems that my comments on Comment is Free are automatically submitted for moderation. This has happened a few times, more recently when I saw an article on PressTV, by a leading PressTV employee.

Hmm, no conflict of interests there?

So apart from why a liberal newspaper should want to provide PR for PressTV, I was curious on another matter and I posted a question:

“If PressTV is so blameless, please could you explain why it provides a platform for Holocaust Denial?

Nick Kollerstrom wrote an opinion piece “Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom argues that the alleged massacre of Jewish people by gassing during World War II was scientifically impossible. “

[warning a link to his article, rather nasty]

According to her web site, Lady Renouf is often offered a warm welcome at PressTV.

Readers will remember that Lady Renouf has been a major supporter of David Irving, Ernest Zundel and Robert Faurrison, all leading Holocaust deniers.

That and much more.

So why does PressTV push Holocaust Denial.”

None of my recent comments on CiF have been offensive or rude, so it is peculiar that they should be pushed into moderation whilst offensive comments from anti-Jewish racists seem to sail straight through the Guardian’s moderation scheme.

Still I doubt that my comment will ever see the light of day over there, perhaps they should rename CiF to Comments Are Moderated.

Update: It seems to have got through!

Written by modernityblog

15/07/2009 at 15:14

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Third Benn?

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The Third Estate has an interview with Tony Benn.

Tony Benn NPG

Tony Benn NPG

I have to be honest I’m not a great fan of Tony Benn, I can’t quite get worked up into the frenzy of hero worship that is so prevalent in politics.

Also, it is partly political, I didn’t think much of him as a politician when in power, agreeing to the expansion of nuclear power in Britain. If I remember well, later on he blames it on the civil servants having told him to go along with it, which is a pretty pathetic excuse if you’re a Cabinet minister and an adult. If he agrees with nuclear power he should say so, and if not, he should take the blame himself and not try to foist it on others.

But that’s only part of the problem, coming from the political aristocracy Benn doesn’t do humility very well, and his anti-Europeanism smacks too much of the little Englander syndrome for my tastes.

Yet I recognize that he’s an articulate fellow, as one might expect given his privileged up-bringing, and not stupid either, so occasionally he can provide some political insights.

Still, the Benn diaries are a must for anyone interested in politics of the 1960-90s.

Read more of him at the Third Estate.

Written by modernityblog

15/07/2009 at 04:04

I Do Like The Tune.

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For all of us who missed Bastille Day yesterday I offer La Marseillaise. It is a damn fine tune and here’s what the National Assembly in France tells you about it.

For those who like the tune this site has a variety of formats, I think Rugby World Cup semi-final one is my favourite, along with the one in Casablanca.

Written by modernityblog

15/07/2009 at 00:46

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