Saturday, September 04, 2004

Michelle Malkin, Revisionist

Eric Muller has been doing a phenomenal job at taking apart the ridiculous claims made by Malkin in her book on the internment of Japanese-Americans, and this latest post packs a particularly powerful punch. I'll quote a few excerpts:

Let's consider a hypothetical. Suppose an author were to publish a book revisiting the pogroms across Germany in November of 1938 that we know as "Kristallnacht." Suppose that author's thesis went something like this: "Yes, German and Austrian Jews certainly and regrettably suffered in the attacks of November 9 and 10, 1938, and in the incarceration of some 26,000 in concentration camps for a period of many weeks that followed. We have seen, time and again, the images of the broken storefront windows and the burning synagogues that the Jewish grievance community and politically correct academics want us to see. We have been led to believe that this was an unprovoked outburst of baseless hatred on the part of the German people. But what Jews and academics do not tell you, and do not want you to know, is that the so-called Kristallnacht had a real cause: A Jew did, in fact, murder the German official Ernst vom Rath in Paris on November 7, 1938, at the German Embassy, and documents from the time show that Josef Goebbels knew this and saw the murder as proof of a larger Jewish threat to the Reich."

This, in the context of the Holocaust, is the precise analogue of Malkin's thesis about the Japanese American internment. Please note that I'm not suggesting that Malkin herself believes or has ever said any such thing about Kristallnacht specifically, or the Holocaust generally. I am sure she does not. believe such a thing. I am also not comparing Kristallnacht to the eviction of Japanese Americans. I am instead making a point about the nature--the architecture, if you will--of her argument. It is this: you have been led to believe that what seems to be a groundless, racist government action lacked any foundation and can therefore be explained only as an expression of hatred, but that is not so; in fact, there was a real threat to the government that supplied a foundation for what they did.

So, to return to Timothy Burke's observation: suppose that a mediagenic author were to publish such a work. Would MSNBC, CNBC, Fox, C-SPAN, HBO, and countless radio programs present that work at all? If they did so, would they present it uncritically, and without rebuttal?

Of course they wouldn't. And so the question is: why the difference?

A couple of possible answers suggest themselves to me, and neither is very attractive.

One is that it's easier for us to recognize malevolence in others' ancestors (the Nazis) than in our own. Thus, what seems incontestably unjustifiable in the history of others remains debatable in our own. (emphasis added)
This is a point I've made before. But let's see what he has to say in the update he provides, as the insults from the usual quarters come pouring in:
Update: The comments over at my blog have started to pour in, as I knew they would, calling me vile and reprehensible for comparing Michelle Malkin to a Holocaust revisionist. A careful reader of what I wrote will, I am confident, understand what I actually do. I construct a hypothetical about one episode from 1938 Nazi Germany about which there is historical consensus ... I imagine a book that depicts the consensus as a "myth" by a similar mode of argument, and with a similar type of evidence, that Malkin's book uses to depict the consensus about the internment as a "myth." I postulate that such a book about 1938 Nazi Germany, published today, would not receive uncritical attention from American major media. And I ask why Malkin's has, and suggest a couple of possible answers.

To those who are rushing over to my blog to call me names for insulting Michelle Malkin, I hope that on their way over they'll think for a moment about the insult that Malkin's book represents to many thousands of loyal, patriotic, and innocent Americans of Japanese ancestry who had to endure the questioning of their loyalty 60 years ago, and now, thanks to Malkin's book and the uncritical attention the media has lavished upon it, are having to endure it again.
I think Muller is asking too much to expect these sorts of individuals to reflect on how insulting the claims of their heroine are to those who are the subjects of her book; after all, these are the very same sorts who will whine on and on about the racism of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton even as they indulge in the vilest rhetoric about "ragheads", "welfare parasites" and "wetba .." ahem, "illegals" who just "keep coming" and "multiply like rabbits." To morons like these, it's only racism when it's in their direction.