Orac doesn’t think Expelled’s Nazi claims are a form of Holocaust denial. I disagree.
Orac has some good points, and “denial” may be a strong word. Orac gives the basic criteria of Holocaust denial as rejecting at least one of these statements:
1. The Holocaust was the intentional murder of European Jews by the Nazi government of Germany during World War II as a matter of state policy
2. This mass murder employed gas chambers, among other methods, as a method of killing
3. The death toll of European Jews by the end of World War II was roughly 6 million.
Expelled is either silent on or in agreement with all of those. Even so, I think Orac is too kind in saying:
given the actual definition of Holocaust denial generally agreed upon by academics, I have conclude that [Caplan]‘s incorrect when he asserts that the vile lies in Expelled! are a form of Holocaust denial. I can fully understand why he might want to say that, but I can’t agree with it. As many lies about Darwin and the Holocaust as Ben Stein and Mark Mathis pack into the movie, they accept the basic historicity of the Holocaust
He is simply wrong in continuing that sentence:
and do not show any signs of the anti-Semitism that accompanies Holocaust denial.
Not when you’ve got David Klinghoffer defending the movie by saying that Hitler was right about the Jews. The central belief of the Holocaust’s architects was that Jews were evil, and that this evil was genetic, and had to be rooted out of the German (or Aryan, if we must) lineage. In order to claim that evolution is at all relevant to the Holocaust, the producers of Expelled must believe that there really is some genetic component to Judaism, and that a selective breeding program really would have some effect on society. Of course, these claims are wrong.
The effect of the claims made in Expelled, and championed by Richard Weikart, are to remove blame from the shoulders of Hitler and other implementers of the horrific Nazi policies. And in doing so, they are nibbling away at the first of Orac’s criteria. They don’t deny that the Nazis did what they did, but as Disco. Inst. VP John West puts it, they were simply enforcing “a fundamental law.”
But this is false, and if we weren’t talking about such a serious topic, it would be pretty funny to suggest that laws of nature have to be enforced by the government:
The effect of these attempts to shift blame off of the Nazis is to trivialize the Holocaust. As the ADL’s Abe Foxman said about televangelist D. James Kennedy’s attempt to argue for Weikart’s hypothesis:
This is an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.
Which nicely meshes with Orac’s conclusion:
What’s really going on with Expelled! is something that’s gone on almost since the very end of World War II, when Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz from the East, and allied forces liberated Dachau and other camps from the West, and that is the intentional misuse of the Holocaust as a political weapon.
While trivializing the Holocaust isn’t one of the standard criteria of Holocaust denial, I think it should be. The Holocaust is quite possibly the most horrific event in human history. No small part of that is the fact that it was carried out in an orderly process with a shocking amount of public acceptance. To trivialize that, and make it just another political chit to cash in debate is to deny the significance of the event, though not to deny the event itself.