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February 21, 2006

Comments

I missed Gromit's post. I was trying to say what he said.

Well, I was trying to say what Gromit said about not singling out Nazism. I lean towards Katherine's position, but am not completely sure.

Sebastian:
"Which highly important right, or concern if you will, is implicated here? What is so important about it that it ought to limit speech??"

Under German law, that would probably be "human dignity". It's at least part of the argument that's being made in such cases.

I can't find an English link to the relevant law I spoke before, but
see the German constition, article 1.
here: also:

Also of interest might be Article 18 (Forfeiture of basic rights).

Take this with a grain of salt, though. It's a topic I'd like to get much more knowledgeable myself. And I have no idea if the arguments are similar in Austria's case.

When a right is limited, it is usually limited by the need to respect another highly important right.

I don't think that is always the case. Rights can be limited because of a wide range of considerations. As I suggested, it used to be thought that threatening to overthrow the government should be limited, up until 1964 it the US. Eugene Debs didn't get 10 years in prison for yelling fire in a theatre.

Which highly important right, or concern if you will, is implicated here? What is so important about it that it ought to limit speech??

Apparently, the societal consensus in Austria is that the desire to either avoid a resurgence of Nazism an/or a desire to absolve itself of guilt (in so far as a country is guilty) overrides permitting people to deny the Holocaust or espouse or glorify Nazism. This is why I brought up the notion of sedition. The nizkor link given above shows that it is linked to a much deeper restriction than simply a limitation of speech. It says:

It states that no act entailing a revival of National Socialist activity can be considered legal. There is no doubt that Para 3 should be applied by every official authority within its area of influence, regardless of whether its implementation is specified in the laws governing the activities of that authority explicitly or implicitly.

Paragraph Three is to be considered a "universal clause" applicable everywhere and by everyone, not just by one specific agency of Austria's executive and law-enforcement organizations. The uncompromising rejection of National Socialism is a cornerstone of the Republic.

Every act of the State has to abide, without exception, to this ban. No official act may indicate the State's complicity in a revival of National Socialist activity.[57]

The law in the original 1945 version is here, and it notes that it was last revised in 1992, but that link doesn't work. The link also notes that the activities of the Werwolf organization were on the minds of those drafting the law, (regardless of the truth of such a threat). That the law has been reduced over time suggests that the appropriate direction is being taken, but Austrians rather than Americans should decide how and at what rate. And they shouldn't do so just because someone like David Irving tries to challenge the law.

As I said, I wouldn't be comfortable with it in the US, but I don't see me saying that Austria, given its history, shouldn't do it because of some notion of basic human rights.

I also think there is a qualitative difference when the law is used to suppress the speech of a David Irving and when a host of alternative routes are used to suppress free speech, as has recently happened in Japanovertly as well as more subtly. The danger from a claim that free speech is sacrosanct is that a host of other ways of restricting speech can be employed rather than having a discussion of the ideas behind such speech.

Gromit: I would also add, given our history with the American Indians, that a law against rehabilitating genocide in the U.S. might effectively ban a good chunk of American literature, art, and cinema.

And a lot of anthropological/historical texts which are, effectively, Holocaust denial: the pretence that the millions of Native Americans killed by the European settlers never actually existed in the first place, or died "accidentally". This consensus decision to deny the world's longest Holocaust has, in fact, turned into the official version of history - the American equivalent of the Israeli lie that Palestine was "a land without a people for a people without a land".

I'm still thinking about Katherine's points. I'll probably write it up for my journal: it'll go quite nicely with the other posts I've been making about free speech and so on.

A couple of rather confused points. Confused because I'm not really sure what side I'm arguing, if any. But here goes anyway:

1. One reason I'm uncomfortable with the hate speech law is that I think banning an idea gives it a certain attraction and legitimacy. Might Irving acquire a certain legitimacy as a "free speech martyr" by being convicted that he wouldn't otherwise have? Is the government acknowledging the power of his ideas by banning them? I'd feel more comfortable with it all if the government stayed out of it and Irving et al were answered with more free speech: make sure everyone knows the truth so that the neo-Nazis are laughed at or greeted with disgust, but not believed any more than the flat earthers are generally believed. But perhaps I'm looking at this in a very US-American sort of way. Do any of the Germans posting here worry about this sort of thing? Am I being a cultural ignoramous here?

2. As I've said before, despite the First Amendment, despite all the ACLU's work, there are considerable restrictions on free speech/freedom of expression in the US. For example, it is illegal to urge someone to desert from the military. It is illegal to advocate the overthrow of the government or the assassination of any public official. Some forms of pornography are illegal if "community standards" are violated. Are the hate speech laws in Germany and Austria different from these laws in the US? If so, what makes them so?

There's also a law against "disparagement of the dead (§189)" in Germany, and from what I've gathered it also applies to Holocaust cases.

Also, on "ratings of crimes against humanity": the holocaust is indeed regarded as a very unique crime, even in comparsion with other genocides, I think it's fair to say that's a consensus at least among German historians for a number of reasons.

I'm not sure if this is a fitting example, but maybe the Julius Streicher case in Nuremberg should also be noted. From what I remember, he was hanged primilary for his role in incitement and propaganda, not that much because of active physical partipaction in the holocaust. I might be wrong, but the name comes to my mind in these discussions when I'm thinking about the larger issues, not just denial.

Is it illegal in Germany to disparage Joseph Goebbels? He's dead.

The reason I bring up the "uniqueness" objection is that it can tend to lead us to treat the Holocaust and the practices of the Nazis generally as the line that should not be crossed. I think this is a terrible mistake, which can lead us to apply the brakes far too late and to countenance atrocities which might not rise to the level of herding folks into gas chambers by the thousands or starving them by the millions, but which ought to be stopped nonetheless.

Or, put another way, to those apologists for torture, summary execution, or ethnic/racial/religious persecution, it offers an out, in that they can say "this is nowhere near what the Nazis did", even when those are things the Nazis did prior to herding people into camps and killing them en masse.

It's unlikely that this law is interpreted in a way that makes it illegal to say bad things about dead Nazis. I'd be surprised if anyone went to the courts because of that anyway..certain mechanisms work of course without any need for laws, that's not different here at all.

Although I'm otherwise largely refraining from the to and fro on ObWi for the time being, since tis thread is about "free speech and other stuff," emphasis "other stuff," and since there's no open thread, and since someone is away, just for no reason whatever do I point out the following to anyone it might be of interest to. I couldn't possibly say why it might be of said interest:

His resignation takes effect at the end of the academic year. Derek Bok, 75, who served as Harvard's president for 20 years, was named interim president.
[whistles, walks off]

I've said what I had to say about Irving here and here and here, for the record here.

I'd vote and lobby emphatically against adopting Austrian and German and similar laws about Nazi speech and Holocaust-denying speech here in the U.S.

In Austria, I'm content to let them make their own laws. And to those unfamiliar with the full details of Austria's Nazi past, enthusiastic Nazism, the history of how the U.S. covered up and let slide said history during the late Forties and Fifties and onwards, never engaging in any serious de-Nazification, for the sake of keeping Austria neutral in the Cold War, so that Austria -- although surely largely purged of serious anti-Semitism now -- was still enthusiastically sending SS man Kurt Waldheim out as their proud representative just a few short years ago, well, they might want to read up on all that, and on the current threads of neo-Nazis in Austria and Germany (not that many countries don't have some fringe neo-Nazis; on the other hand, it's not as if all the original Nazis are yet dead in Austria and Germany, either, and certainly the older adults were all raised in a time when the issue was entirely shoved under the rug; only those raised since the Eighties and Nineties have had a truly better educated upbringing as regards the Shoah).

So I'm content to let them speak to their own conditions on such matters for the next few decades, at the very least.

But, otherwise, like I said in my posts. Put a gun to my head, and I'd say that probably Irving shouldn't be imprisoned; I certainly wouldn't want any such laws here. But I'm not going to crusade to tell Austria how it should handle its own laws on this. Different countries have different histories, contexts, and environments. Universal principles are one thing; universal details of how to enact them are an entirely different thing, and I don't advocate for The One True Way to enact reasonably free speech, particularly since no country, including the U.S., has Absolutely Free Speech.

Nor will I lose sleep over David Irving. I already wrote my post, and I'd rather lose sleep over the current genocide than over an apologist for another. Other people are free to have their own priorities.

well, I'm not even a little bit convinced.

I'm not even a little bit surprised :)

Devil's advocate arguments where you have to keep going "I'm just playing devil's advocate" don't actually work that well.

Given that you seem to be demanding a full-fledged exegesis of the problem when I've admitted that a) I think it's murky at best, b) I don't really hold the position firmly myself when c) I certainly haven't clarified or refined the position to a level where I can defend it with any facility and d) don't have the time to be wasting on this anyway -- and that's all leaving aside any particular implications you're throwing at me -- it seemed appropriate to remind you that I did not, in fact, have a 200+ page thesis from which to extract a perfect argument here.

It's a quite arbitrary line, and yes you can draw it there, but the point is that once you move the line there, it's hard to have a leg to stand on when you tell people not to move it further.

True, but that doesn't actually address the question of whether the line could, or should, be moved away from the extremal position in the first place. Or at least, the slippery slope argument to me seems distinct from the other arguments you've been making.

I really despise, for reasons you could guess, the idea that basic human and civil rights are a "luxury."

I was unclear; the luxury to which I was referring was in treating this issue as something which doesn't concern us directly, since it's not happening in our country. I completely agree that basic rights should never be considered a "luxury" in any regard.

And the idea that Europe today is comparable to the Weimar era is comical.

I don't think they're the same, no. I doubt they're particularly comparable either, although there might be some interesting parallels between post-Communist Eastern Europe and, say, pre-Streseman Weimar. Whether they're different enough is another question.

Austria and Germany had their cultural and political heart ripped out.
Many died, many went into exile never to return.
The Nazis stayed behind, view of them were punished, view of them had died in the war (funny that, eh).
Because of the needs of the Allies for an armed frontline state in the Cold War, Germany and Austria were not allowed to purge themselves of the evil in their midst.

Think of Holocaust Denial free speech restriction as Affirmative Action for freedom and democracy.
Germany needed 200 years to recover culturally and politically from the 30 year war. How long will it take afro-americans to overcome hundreds of years of institutionalized slavery politically and culturally in the USA?

Again, the restriction of free speech in the case of Nazi Propaganda is not wielded lightly and wantonly in Germany and Austria. It is a means of last defense against clear and present danger of sworn enemies to the state and democracy.

All countries have their own laws to restrict freedom of speech. Untill Bush's visit "free speech zones" were unknown over here :^).

Why is freedom of speech important? We all agree that it is, but WHY is it so important? Do we have the same definitions, do we perceive it's importance the same way? We all think that personal freedom is important, but in my country that includes more freedom to choose your own death than in yours, in the US that includes more freedom to sell bits of your body than in mine. There are plenty of examples where our countries perceive these freedoms differently, yet I think on the whole we agree that we live in pretty free societies.

Is freedom of speech important because everybody should be able to express him(her)self? As a part of personal freedom? Yet most of the US has laws against foul language and against nudity - none of which endangers someone else. So there are limits there too, and they are set in a 'comfort zone', inhibitians to make others feel more at ease.

For me freedom of speech is important because critisism should always be heard, people should be informed as broadly and properly as can be. Information should not be withheld unless it is really nessecary for security reasons.

That is why I feel that freedom of speech is not just about being able to say what you want, but also about "chilling effects", press freedom, accesibility of info, privacy protection, etc. These things are intertwined.

People upthread argue that dumb statements will be countered in a sort of "information free market" environment. But look at how many Americans still believe the mis-information about Iraq that was spread the past years. The "market mechanism" doesn't work if those other items fail. If your press does not function as well as it should, if the a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effects">chilling effects have a hugh impact, if powerfull parties manipulate the public opinion.

I thought this piece about the conviction of Irving captured the holocaust denial well. It is not necessary for every country, but it might be a good thing for Austria.

"Austria and Germany had their cultural and political heart ripped out.
"Many died, many went into exile never to return."

There's a display in a museum in Mannheim that lists Nobel Prize winners who left Germany in the 1930s. Quite a few of them and that's just the Nobel Prize winners. Many other scientists and academics left as well. And Germany went from being THE place to do science to a place with little active research. It has recovered considerably since then, but it hasn't taken its old place ever. This may sound like a trivial problem compared to the loss of 12 million lives, but it is part of the loss of culture. The Nazis nearly committed cultural genocide against their own culture, as well as the genocide against Jewish and gypsy cultures (and, of course, people) that they intended.

"The Nazis stayed behind, view of them were punished, view of them had died in the war (funny that, eh)."

Should "view" be "few" (wenig)? The sentence doesn't quite make sense to me as written (could be my problem, not the sentences, of course.)

view = few

oppsy daisy, time for coffee :)

"...in the US that includes more freedom to sell bits of your body than in mine...."

Since I pretty much agree with the rest of what you said, dutchmarbel, I'm curious what you have in mind here. All that comes to my mind is selling human eggs, which is allowed (and which are very arguably not "bits of your body," but bits "from your body," just as phlegm is, or sperm from a man). So what do you have in mind?

LJ, the changes from 1992 are these:


Das Verfassungsgesetz vom 8. Mai 1945, StGBl. Nr. 13, über das
Verbot der NSDAP (Verbotsgesetz) in der Fassung der
Verfassungsgesetze StGBl. Nr. 127/1945 und BGBl. Nr. 16/1946, der
Bundesverfassungsgesetze BGBl. Nr. 177/1946, 25/1947 und 82/1957
sowie der Bundesgesetze BGBl. Nr. 285/1955, 74/1968 und 422/1974 wird
wie folgt geändert:

1. In den §§ 3a, 3e Abs. 1 und 3f werden jeweils vor den Worten
,,lebenslanger Freiheitsstrafe'' die Worte ,,Freiheitsstrafe von zehn
bis zu zwanzig Jahren, bei besonderer Gefährlichkeit des Täters oder
der Betätigung auch mit'' eingefügt.

2. In den §§ 3b und 3d treten jeweils an die Stelle der Worte
,,Freiheitsstrafe von zehn bis zu zwanzig Jahren'' die Worte
,,Freiheitsstrafe von fünf bis zu zehn Jahren, bei besonderer
Gefährlichkeit des Täters oder der Betätigung bis zu zwanzig
Jahren,''.

3. Der bisherige § 3g Abs. 1 erhält die Bezeichnung ,,§ 3g''; in
diesem treten an die Stelle der Worte ,,Freiheitsstrafe von 5 bis 10
Jahren'' die Worte ,,Freiheitsstrafe von einem bis zu zehn Jahren''.

4. Nach dem neuen § 3g wird folgender § 3b eingefügt:

,,§ 3h. Nach § 3g wird auch bestraft, wer in einem Druckwerk, im
Rundfunk oder in einem anderen Medium oder wer sonst öffentlich auf
eine Weise, daß es vielen Menschen zugänglich wird, den
nationalsozialistischen Völkermord oder andere nationalsozialistische
Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit leugnet, gröblich verharmlost,
gutheißt oder zu rechtfertigen sucht.''

5. Der bisherige § 3g Abs. 2 erhält die Bezeichnung ,,§ 3i''; in
diesem treten an die Stelle der Worte ,,Freiheitsstrafe von 5 bis 10
Jahren'' die Worte ,,Freiheitsstrafe von einem bis zu zehn Jahren''.

6. Nach dem neuen § 3i wird folgender § 3j angefügt:

,,§ 3j. Die Hauptverhandlung und Urteilsfällung wegen der in den
§§ 3a bis 3i bezeichneten Verbrechen obliegt dem
Geschworenengericht.''

The Austria's treatment of its history has come up here in the discussion, some clarifications:

It's true that after the war Austria took refuge to the "first victim" principle and tried to forget about its citizen's role during the nazi aera. De-nazification never was as stringent here as in Germany (and even there cold-war realities killed the ambitious plans). The priorities were rebuiling the country, getting the economy up and regain freedom.

The attitude has shifted quite a lot during the last 20 years. There were a few reasons for that, one of the most significant being the Waldheim affair. Although the "we don't let foreigners tell us who to vote for"-effect led to his election, the scandal did led to a discussion about our history and some quite intensive introspection.

It did take its time, but finally there was enough distance to the events; the tainted people (a lot of which were quite helpful in rebuilding Austria) were on their way to retrirement, and the new generation was ready to ask hard questions about their parent's and grandparent's actions.

So yes, Austria back in the 50's and up to the 80's was guilty of denying its complicity, but this *has* changed quite significantly over the years.

The conviction of Irving is definitly not a political ploy. The law is quite conistently used on high profile targets.

Irving played a game of chicken and lost. If you want to compare that to the Danish cartoons, the aequivalent would be a book-signing tour by the cartoonist to Tehran while wearing t-shirts with the cartoons.

(btw, if someone wants to research Austrian law: www.ris.bka.gv.at is the place to go.)

Gary: there is probabely a much better way to phrase it, though as an IVF participant I can assure you that eggs are much more a bit of my body than sperm is for men :)

We are not allowed any financial profit from donating eggs, sperm, blood, donororgans, bonemarrow, wombusage, etc. Nor can we make profit in adoption intermediating for instance (too close to selling kids).
I don't know about donor organs, I think you cannot trade in those in the States no matter what Turkish action films say :). But I thought the other trades were legal in the States.

"...though as an IVF participant I can assure you that eggs are much more a bit of my body than sperm is for men :)"

Yes, fair enough, and good point. Certainly I didn't mean to imply that removing an egg was remotely as painless and easy as sneezing or, um, the other thing, and I regret having unintentionally in any way having implied otherwise.

"We are not allowed any financial profit from donating eggs, sperm, blood, donororgans, bonemarrow, wombusage, etc."

I have no great knowledge in this area, but I do know that one can receive a (usually very small) compensation fee for selling blood, although the vast majority of blood is from upaid donors. Selling organs is most definitely illegal (although some argue that given how low the donor rate is -- though not nearly as low as it is in some other countries -- that allowing sales would greatly increase the number of organs available, and that certainly seems at least a debatable point, with both pros and cons pretty obvious, I think).

It's, as I understand it, illegal to sell human eggs in the U.S., as well. However, this is effectively gotten around by compensating donors in other ways while technically not "paying them" directly for the eggs. The principle of not selling eggs is maintained, but the practice seems not not be grossly different, though it's not a subject I know more about than some casual reading over the years. But the women who do donate eggs can, I gather, get quite compensated for their non-sale, due to the pain and trouble and expense involved (which is why there are so few eggs available, which is why the demand is so high, unlike that for sperm).

According to this, it seems to be perfectly legal to sell sperm, but 95% of the volunteers are turned down. (It's possible that the legal wording is also one of compensation, not sale, but I don't know, and amn't really interested enough to find out, particularly since it might turn out to be state-regulated, rather than federally, and thus there might be 50+ sets of laws; but I really don't know.) It seems there's no particular shortage of available donated sperm, and thus little market for it. :-) However, for those who do manage, it says at that link (whose reliability I have no idea of):

4. Bank the cash. Fees paid range from $35 per donation to $900 per month for three samples a week. Donors qualify for bonuses for successful referrals and when they exit the program.
The jokes are just so obvious I can manage to refrain from making any, having supplied the straight lines to others. :-)

And for any men in California who get notions:

Donors must commit to staying in the program for a minimum of nine months to a year due to the rigorous testing involved. Donors will be "retired" after a certain number of successful births, usually 10.
Selling bone marrow is also illegal, and is considered, I gather, no different in that way from any other organ. Here's a link explaining some of the reasoning behind this.

But it seems that there's no actual significant difference between the U.S. and the Netherlands in what can be sold as regards body-matter.

There is a significant small legal difference only in that small compensation can be paid to blood donors, and only a fraction of donated blood comes through that route, and then there's the compensation that can be paid to egg donors. As regards what's for sale, it seems that the conditions are identical, although I'm no expert, and could certainly be missing something relevant or ignorant of some relevant aspect of this issue.

Too bad our resident bioethics expert is traveling, as she obviously knows about ten thousand times more than I do about this subject.

Thanks for clarifying.

Gary, things like this would be illegal in the Netherlands. From a NY info pamphlet:

Occasionally, advertisements - supposedly on behalf of a specific couple - will offer a large amount of money to the right egg donor. These ads seek donors with special qualities, such as above-average height, athletic or musical ability, or an Ivy League education. Be aware that, in some cases, there is actually no couple willing to pay the enticing fees. Instead, a broker is trying to attract a large number of applicants. Details about these applicants will be used in the broker's advertising or on its Web site to attract recipients. Some brokers will use the information you give in these ways unless you specifically refuse permission.

You may receive a phone call offering a much lower fee to serve as a donor to another couple. Even if you are never called, information from your application may become available on the Internet.

I mainly know the egg/sperm/adoption issues because our own infertility struggles (through comparing options and programs). I completed a list of things mentioned in OUR laws, not a list of things one could sell in the US :). Sperm banks are an issue because we have a shortage (in the interest of the kids donors are not allowed to stay anonimous - which had a negative effect on the number of donors).

When I have given blood (thrice a year for female blood donors), I get coffee and a biscuit :) . Most US donors too IIRC, which makes more sense for me, but offering anything financial is illegal here.

Anyway, it was a minor point, intended only to illustrate that views about ownership of your body differs. I mainly thought off it because recently a collegue of Hilzoy, Donna Dickenson, received the "Spinoza lens" (scholarly award). My newspaper ran a long interview with her about who owns what, body as property, genetic patents, stemcells, etc.

I'm off to bed now, it is almost one at night here :)

For your edification:

Fistful of Euros on Austria.

And a lot of anthropological/historical texts which are, effectively, Holocaust denial: the pretence that the millions of Native Americans killed by the European settlers never actually existed in the first place, or died "accidentally".

While I agree with the passion behind this, the fact is that arguments over the pre contact native american population should not be put into the same category as Holocaust denial. The main agent of destruction was disease, which ran far ahead of the white settlers. A list of the diseases to which there was no natural resistance include measles, malaria, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, and bubonic plague. For example, when smallpox struck the Mandan tribe, only 31 from a population of 1600 survived. When explorers were able to explore the Mississippi corridor, they discovered evidence of elaborate burial mounds but no extant buildings, because the structures used were all organic material. Linking Holocaust denial to the questions of Native American population in the New World is something that you should reconsider.

Oh and otmar,
Danke sehr :^)

"The main agent of destruction was disease,"

True, but diseases can be used as germ warfare. As small pox was at least once by the British. And along with disease, forced relocation, cultural imperialism, and out and out massacres contributed their parts to the destruction of the vast majority of the original inhabitants of the area now known as the US. I've been told, though I've never been able to either verify or disprove this statement, that in the 19th century Congress spent time debating the "final solution to the Indian problem." As I said, I'm not sure that this is true. But I wouldn't be at all suprised.

But Dianne, Jes referred to texts that discuss Native American history, not to settlers. And the ethos of Social Darwinism had them believe that this was the natural course of events. Here is a link that points to the experience of Plains Indians and fur traders.

LJ: Did you read far enough down in your link to get to this quote: "All of the Muslim terrorists combined are not as much a threat to the American way of life, as the "do-gooder", hate-spewing, damn-America liberals, like Ward Churchill , and his defenders. These "enlightened" liberals are the ones that will destroy the fabric of American life that most of us cherish...not dirt-squatting Muslim terrorists." I got that far and dismissed everything in the article as hopelessly unreliable. Unfair of me, perhaps, but there it is.

If the ethos of Social Darwinism or its predecessors can excuse the behavior of the British settlers towards the Amerind, why can't it also excuse the behavior of the Nazis towards the Jews, Gypsies, etc? Eugenics and social Darwinism were accepted scientific theories of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Nazi Germany was by no means the only country with policies based on eugenics. The US had a number as well. For example, Iowa had a state eugenics board which sterilized (actually, castrated) the "unfit" at least up until the 1950s.

Maybe I don't understand your point. I agree that the Nazis managed a much bigger, nastier genocide than the British/US-American government did. The Nazi genocide also had the additional nastiness of being a betrayal. Prior to the Nazi era, Germany was a relatively liberal, tolerant place as far as race was concerned. German Jews were wealthy and well respected in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They considered Germany a nice, civilized place, unlike the dangerous eastern countries with their pograms and oppression. All of which must have made the Nazi era even more of a shock and horror than the more obvious reasons made it already.

I got to the part about Ward Churchill, and I was going to make a flippant comment about it, but I decided not to. I definitely don't want to get into a Ward Churchill discussion, and I can understand that people get bees in their bonnet about other people (not that this ever happens around here, right?) and go off the deep end.

However, in this case, the people who depended on the Plains Indians (the fur traders) are accused of being the knowing agents of their destruction. Logically, it doesn't make much sense. There were genocidal tendencies, masked as appeals to the inevitability of progress and I would be happy to provide more information. But to state that "a lot of anthropological/historical texts ... are, effectively, Holocaust denial" (and I feel a bit uncomfortable about eliding the 'which', but if I am misreading something here, I would gratefully accept a correction) is precisely the danger that Katherine and Sebastian are worried about with the criminalization of certain ideas. British officers in 1700's passing on smallpox blankets are not the same as fur traders in the 1800's watching smallpox ravage Mandan villages and they are not the same as historians who write textbooks about the population numbers in the New World. And these groups are not the same as German technocrats who utilized both bureaucracy and technology to make efficient the process of killing Jews. To posit an equivalence is wrong, imo.

"As I said, I'm not sure that this is true."

It's definitely the responsible thing to repeat it, then.

After all, it could be true, and that's what matters.

"Prior to the Nazi era, Germany was a relatively liberal, tolerant place as far as race was concerned. German Jews were wealthy and well respected in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

And not a race.

"German Jews were wealthy...."

Also a fascinating assertion. I wish some of my great-grandparents had been informed.

You might possibly wish to consider slightly more carefully what you are saying, or repeating.

Katherine: I don't get the American absolutism about free speech. As Dianne has noted, lots of laws put limits on freedom of expression. The connecting thread for these limits seems to be this: don't allow speech that is too likely to result in too much harm.

The question whether some expression is too likely to cause too much harm is contextual. E.g., maybe Holocaust denial isn't likely to do much damage in North America, but is much more likely to do so in Austria. So ban Holocaust denial in Austria but not in North America. What's wrong with that?

Re. Weimar and hate speech: in a Canadian Supreme Court decision re. our hate speech law (R. v Keegstra), the Chief Justice (Dickson) described a possible objection to hate speech laws arising from Weimar. He said, "It is often noted ... that Germany in the 1920s and 1930s possessed and used hate propaganda laws similar to those existing in Canada ...." Not that I believe in the infallibility of Canadian judges, but there must have been some hate speech laws in Weimar Germany.

Here, read and ponder.
This American free speech anti-nazi needs your help:
Orcinus

Oh, I see...it was all just talk about theoretical absolute values....
y'all never actually meant to do anything about the rise on the ultra-right, it just sounded good to talk about high ideals barren of context? Well, here is context! What are you going to do about it?

( I probably overstepped the rules&regulations of this blog again. My Apologies)

Otherpaul, no, sadly there was no "hatespeech" laws in Weimar.
To the very day, the ultra-right laughs about them "Wimpy Weimar Democrats".

And, when you see how a small minority of lunatics were allowed to change the tenor of lawmaking and even placing Supreme Court Judges into a right wing majority - already with consequences as you see in recent changes in South Dakota - I start wondering: Will these high faluting intellectual ideals protect me, right here, right now, if the long black leather coats come to pick me up at night and fog? If I was put on a "No Fly" list? If I was send to be tortured and killed? If I was a woman and lose ownership of my body?

High faluting Weimar Democrats, I say! And I don't mean that in a nice way!

And yes, Gary Faber, you are very right about pointing out that bigotry. Jews, as anybody else (in the Prussian State, not everywhere in the German States pre 2nd Reich) had religious freedom since Frederic the Great, and were allowed to financially prosper. That didn't make all heebs rich - what an awful stereotype to say differently! And, thusly, Germans of Jewish belief defined themselves as exactly that - Germans! As they should have. It is the failure of the Weimar Republic, the attempt to be open to sides evenly, that left this beautiful ideal of a Democracy an amebic, unrefined organism without mechanisms to stay off those, that are ruthless and sociopathic enough to take advantage of openness to corrupt and take over a perceived "weak political system".
Anyway, you don't want to hear warning bells around here anyway, so I better shut up.

liberalj: , Jes referred to texts that discuss Native American history, not to settlers.

Yes. And the texts that discuss the history of North America are - in my experience of them - generally in a settled state of comfortable denial that far exceeds David Irving's about the Holocaust of North America, to the extent that I believe it is received opinion that there were only ever a couple of million people living in North America when the white settlers got there... and The Road to El Dorado got into mainstream cinemas without anyone mainstream pointing out that this was about as offensive a concept as making a shiny happy cartoon film called The Road to Auschwitz, presented as a fantasy fairy tale.

"...but there must have been some hate speech laws in Weimar Germany."

So:

Prosecution of anti-Semitic expressions were initiated, fought, and carefully reported by the Central Verein Deutscher Staatsburger Judischen Glaubens (Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith). The records of the Central Verein reveal that over 200 prosecutions of anti-Semitic propaganda went forward over a period of about 15 years, and of these, about 10 percent were regarded by legal staff of the Central Verein as objectionable in the sense that they eventuated in verdicts that were either absolutely unjust or too lenient. This means that by their own standards of success the German Jewish community enjoyed a success rate of about ninety percent in prosecuting anti-Semitic insults. In at least one reported case, a street conversation between two persons that was overheard by a Jew was the basis of a prosecution. Nor was the scope of the prosecutions limited to small fry: Joseph Goebbels was convicted twice — sentenced once to six weeks imprisonment and once to three weeks for insulting Bernard Weiss, a Jewish deputy police commissioner in Berlin; Julius Streicher and Karl Holz, editors of the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer, were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of four months and one year respectively. It is true that some managed to stall long enough to avoid actual imprisonment, and that some few members of the judiciary were sympathetic to the defendants; but in general both the judiciary and the German people acceded to a remarkable campaign on the part of German Jewry to use the power of the State to punish anti-Semitic propaganda.

"...and The Road to El Dorado got into mainstream cinemas without anyone mainstream pointing out that this was about as offensive a concept as making a shiny happy cartoon film called The Road to Auschwitz, presented as a fantasy fairy tale."

One shouldn't neglect the offensiveness of Aladdin to Arabs, Pocahontas to Northeastern Native Americans, Hercules to Greek gods, Mulan to Chinese people, Tarzan to Africans, The Emperor’s New Groove to vaguely South American people and to llamas and possibly to rappers, Atlantis: The Lost Empire to Atlanteans, Lilo And Stitch to Hawaiians, Brother Bear back to Native Americans again, and Home On The Range, well, one needs even say, needs one?

Not to mention the offensiveness of The Rescuers Down Under to Australians, The Little Mermaid to mermaids, The Lion King, back to Africans and all sorts of animals, The Black Cauldron to wizards, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame to spinally-challenged people, Robin Hood to British descendents of Normans, The Jungle Book, well, Africans again, 101 Dalmatians to dog-haters, Cinderella to step-mothers and re-made families, and... well, the list of offensive Disney movies simply goes on and on. Have they ever made a non-offensive movie?

I, myself, am greatly offended by what The Love Bug implied about Volkswagon owners, That Darn Cat about cat-"owners," and The Shaggy Dog about people who dislike Dean Jones (or Tim Allen).

Jes, I don't want to barrage you with questions, but what texts have you read and how recent are they? If you are going to lump Disney animations together with texts by historians, well, that says more about you than the texts.

liberal japonius: If you are going to lump Disney animations together with texts by historians, well, that says more about you than the texts.

*pedant alert* The Road To El Dorado was Dreamworks, not Disney. *end pedant alert*

Received opinion can be measured from both how fiction is framed and how history is told. If you never realized this before, perhaps you should think again: I'm sure you can come up with your own examples.

liberal japonius: If you are going to lump Disney animations together with texts by historians, well, that says more about you than the texts.

*pedant alert* The Road To El Dorado was Dreamworks, not Disney. *end pedant alert*

Received opinion can be measured from both how fiction is framed and how history is told. If you never realized this before, perhaps you should think again: I'm sure you can come up with your own examples.

"Received opinion can be measured from both how fiction is framed and how history is told. If you never realized this before, perhaps you should think again: I'm sure you can come up with your own examples."

Nice to see that Jesurgislac isn't only cryptically non-responsive to me.

Jes, if you were simply talking about received wisdom, you have a point, but using "a lot of anthropological/historical texts" almost totally obscures it, as does suggesting that I don't realize what received wisdom is.

With Kevin Costner's success with Dances with Wolves in 1990, received wisdom, while still focussed on the myth of the noble savage, has changed a bit. (However, the racism against native Americans can be noted as surfacing with the spinning of the Abramoff scandal, as noted by Wampum blog) Tomorrow when I go into the office, I can pass on a few titles that have a much more balanced view of native American history if you are interested.

lj: as does suggesting that I don't realize what received wisdom is.

It did appear from the point you were trying to make in your comment of February 23, 2006 at 05:09 AM that you didn't understand what received opinion is, and how it affects both the lightest fiction and the most serious historical texts. But it's also possible (and I see that Sebastian is weighing in) that I simply wasn't explaining what I meant very clearly. I think I should see if I can explain myself at more length in my journal, though it likely won't be till the weekend now.

"...and The Road to El Dorado got into mainstream cinemas without anyone mainstream pointing out that this was about as offensive a concept as making a shiny happy cartoon film called The Road to Auschwitz, presented as a fantasy fairy tale."

And one practically never sees football teams with names like the Munchen Jews or the Berlin Romani. Funny, that.

Serious question: why is it somehow making light of the Holocaust to point out that other genocides occured? Do you think I think that it is somehow think that Jeffrey Amherst's actions made Hitler's OK? Or is it a fear that pointing out that genocide is not such an unusual human behavior will encourage it? (I'm really not being snarky, just trying to think through the implications. Sorry if it's offensive to anyone.)

"German technocrats who utilized both bureaucracy and technology to make efficient the process of killing Jews. To posit an equivalence is wrong, imo."

I've always thought that the worst sins of the Nazi era occured at the Wannsee Conference, even though no one died there. But how is saying "The Nazis managed a bigger and nastier genocide than the British or US-Americans did" positing equivalence? IMO debating which genocide of a number of genocides was worse is a little like debating whether its worse to be drowned or burned at the stake...can't they both be so bad that "never again" applies to both?

WDT: And, when you see how a small minority of lunatics were allowed to change the tenor of lawmaking and even placing Supreme Court Judges into a right wing majority - already with consequences as you see in recent changes in South Dakota - I start wondering: Will these high faluting intellectual ideals protect me, right here, right now, if the long black leather coats come to pick me up at night and fog? If I was put on a "No Fly" list? If I was send to be tortured and killed? If I was a woman and lose ownership of my body?

They certainly won't protect you if you succeed in legitimizing the criminalization of opposing viewpoints. The majority's willingness to adhere to those "high faluting intellectual ideals" are the ONLY thing that will protect you should you find yourself in the ideological minority. Nazism itself thrived on the scapegoating of unpopular minorities.

That didn't make all heebs rich - what an awful stereotype to say differently!

This isn't what Dianne said, and it's a cheap shot to try to twist her comment this way.

To clarify a point discussed by Gary and dutchmarbel upthread, in regards to this: I have no great knowledge in this area, but I do know that one can receive a (usually very small) compensation fee for selling blood, although the vast majority of blood is from upaid donors

It is illegal in the US for financial compensation to be exchanged for the donation of blood, blood plasma or platelets intended for transfusion into humans. Private blood banks and other facilities may pay for blood intended for research. The American Red Cross does not pay for blood, plasma, or platelet donations under any circumstances, whether for research or for transfusion.

Gary, I don't see the problem in Dianne passing on a claim that she's heard, but isn't sure is true, since she pointed out she doesn't know it's true.

Jes, I understood what you were saying. I'm somewhere in the middle in the debate you're having with lj, but don't have time to jump in.

Dianne,
I think we are arguing past each other. You said
But how is saying "The Nazis managed a bigger and nastier genocide than the British or US-Americans did" positing equivalence?

I don't mean to be picky, but no one said that. What was said (by jes) was this
a lot of anthropological/historical texts which are, effectively, Holocaust denial:

Now, it seems to hinge on the fact that I read 'texts' as scholarly documents that represent the current historical consensus and jes takes texts to include everything produced by a culture, including The Road to El Dorado. That, in itself, is a big enough difference to gum up the works, but because the tendency of an internet debate is to try and force the other opponent into making some indefensible statement and then accuse them of bigotry or idiocy or both, and we hope to avoid that here, perhaps I could have rephrased my point, especially my 5:09 which jes objects to. But (and please take this as advice rather than criticism) it doesn't really help to clarify the discussion when someone makes restatements of other people's arguments that are unsourced, especially when they are going into the discussion with two different definitions of a basic term.

I think it was my comment that sparked this "American History as Holocaust Denial" subthread, but I just want to note that I wasn't trying to draw a direct comparison between the two phenomena. I was just pointing out that pernicious myths that tend to whitewash the brutal ugliness of the past aren't a uniquely European phenomenon. I resent the implication that, being an American (and a native of the South, at that), I just can't possibly understand what it means to have to cope with a heritage of very ugly ethnic conflict.

"Gary, I don't see the problem in Dianne passing on a claim that she's heard, but isn't sure is true, since she pointed out she doesn't know it's true."

I heard that John McCain was an informant for the North Vietnamese when he was a POW, and that three Americans died because of lies he told his captors. I don't know if it's true, though.

I've been told that Jews were behind the blowing up of the Shrine in Samara. I'm not sure if it's true. But I also read that German Jews were all rich, and that's why the other Germans resented them. I'm not entirely sure about this, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising, would it?

Have you heard that Howard Dean said that Bush is planning to open concentration camps for people who protest the war next year? I've heard it from six different people, though I haven't checked if it's true, so keep that in mind.

Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian, though I haven't seen proof, myself.

I've read over twenty different articles that had evidence that Hillary had Vince Foster killed, and covered up the murder. I haven't double-checked on whether that's right, though.

Did you know that Noam Chomsky took money from the KGB? Maybe it's not true, but I wouldn't be surprised. You know what leftists are like.

I've read that people can make the most dumbass comments on blog comments, and I hear that soon the FCC is going to start regulating them. It's possible that I got it wrong, though.

Everyone says that discourse like this is just fine, and no one could possibly object to it. I don't see what sort of problem there could be with it.

"It is illegal in the US for financial compensation to be exchanged for the donation of blood, blood plasma or platelets intended for transfusion into humans...."

Yeah, I had meant to edit out "selling," but it slipped by me; sorry; thanks for emphasizing the point.

In re-reading, I see that I missed that Dianne had said what she quoted. Apologies for missing that, I stuck it in the search and it didn't turn up, though I might have been stuck in the comment box and when I looked, I failed to click outside the box. Needless to say, I was responding, as I said, to the question of "anthropological/historical texts".

Also, Gary, I think that 1 or 2 examples would have sufficed rather than the 8 you listed. The more energy you put into a volume of water, the faster it will reach the boiling point. Unfortunately, unlike a liquid, the boiling point of a blog thread does not necessarily represent highest temperature that can be reached in that state.

That didn't make all heebs rich - what an awful stereotype to say differently!

This isn't what Dianne said, and it's a cheap shot to try to twist her comment this way.

Right, she simply asserted that "German Jews were wealthy and well respected in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

And has commented twice since, and not modified this assertion.

So it's quite correct to note that she didn't say "heebs," she said "Jews," that she didn't refer to all Jews, but simply to all German Jews, and she didn't say they were all "rich," but that they were all "wealthy," and, wait, yes, that is a stereotype, and a vicious one that is at the absolute heart of anti-Semitism, and which innumerable Jews have been murdered hearing.

No reason to twist it into anything to be offended by. The distinction between "rich" and "wealthy" is quite important.

My guess is that next will come the distinction that "German Jews" doesn't mean all German Jews.

Look, I'm perfectly inclined to believe that Dianne was simply being careless about something she should know better than to be careless about, and was simply being completely thoughtless when she blithely wrote that stereotype. I absolutely am inclined to believe that. And when she says that that's all it was, a simple bit of thoughtless carelessness, I'll accept that immediately, all other things being the same, and move on.

But it's not "twisting" what she said to note that it was a vicious stereotype, and precisely one of the claims of the Nazis and of anti-Semites everywhere, no matter that it was likely purely accidental and purely out of carelessness. Some of us are sensitive about such passing remarks for a good reason. (It would only be unreasonable if someone didn't drop the issue after she corrected herself and gave no sign it was anything more than casual sloppiness.)

Gary, do you mean to imply that Dianne is saying something she has reason to believe is not true? Because that is the inference I'm drawing from your analogies.

"Also, Gary, I think that 1 or 2 examples would have sufficed rather than the 8 you listed."

Yes, I think one example would and should have sufficed, as well.

Unfortunately, reality intevened to demonstrate it did not.

I actually think no examples should be necessary to demonstrate that spreading vile rumors is an evil thing to do.

Gary Farber: So it's quite correct to note that she didn't say "heebs," she said "Jews," that she didn't refer to all Jews, but simply to all German Jews, and she didn't say they were all "rich," but that they were all "wealthy," and, wait, yes, that is a stereotype, and a vicious one that is at the absolute heart of anti-Semitism, and which innumerable Jews have been murdered hearing.

Kindly point to the word "all", or a synonym of "all", in Dianne's statement. Either that, or get your capacity for charitable interpretation into the repair shop, pronto. If you have one, that is.

"Gary, do you mean to imply that Dianne is saying something she has reason to believe is not true?"

What, about German Jews, or about "that in the 19th century Congress spent time debating the "final solution to the Indian problem"?

I don't know to which you are referring (and I can think of several similarly responsible remarks Dianne has made here in other threads), but regardless, I'm not a mind-reader, and don't pretend to be, unless I say I'm wearing my mind-reading cap.

My default assumption, all other things being the same, is that people aren't intentionally being untruthful, though.

On the other hand, it's not my default assumption that everyone has a firm grasp of what is responsible to put in writing that is read around the world, and googlable for the ages, and what is not.

Writing something that is going to show up on a search engine search, and that even before that is being read by goodness knows how many people, in how many countries, is not the same thing as saying it in a casual chat in one's bedroom. or apartment, or during a long drive, with a good friend.

I've checked that, and I know it to be true.

Kindly point to the word "all", or a synonym of "all", in Dianne's statement. Either that, or get your capacity for charitable interpretation into the repair shop, pronto. If you have one, that is.
"My guess is that next will come the distinction that "German Jews" doesn't mean all German Jews."

We have a winner.

Oh, what the hell: in a likely utterly futile attempt to minimize the number of times the "how do plurals work in English?" merry-go-round goes around again, the following:

In English, an unmodified plural stands as an absolute. To not so stand, it must be modified. That's how English grammar works.

"People are stupid."

This means "all people are stupid."

If you wish to say something more limited, the noun must have a modifier: "blue-eyed people are stupid"; "tall people are stupid"; "American people are stupid."

Absent the modifier, "people are stupid" does not mean "some people are stupid"; it means "all people are stupid."

We could repeat this exercise with an infinite number of plural nouns, adding and subtracting modifiers to test this general case, but feel free to try it at home on your own.

Gary Farber: On the other hand, it's not my default assumption that everyone has a firm grasp of what is responsible to put in writing that is read around the world, and googlable for the ages, and what is not.

I would say this goes double for charges of bigotry based on an intentionally uncharitable reading of a comment.

Look, you could simply have asked Dianne if she meant to imply that ALL German Jews were wealthy, or only meant that some were wealthy, or that they, in the aggregate, prospered. But you didn't. Instead you pretended to assume she meant otherwise. Then WDT outright accused her of anti-Semitism. Sometimes I just don't think you realize how snide your comments can come off. I can empathize, since I have this problem on occasion, too, but pretending that you were really giving her the benefit of the doubt here is just plain disingenuous. Not a trace of that made it into your comment.

February 22, 2006 at 10:54 PM: "You might possibly wish to consider slightly more carefully what you are saying, or repeating."

"...but pretending that you were really giving her the benefit of the doubt here is just plain disingenuous."

I am not happy when people assert that I am or have been dishonest. I invite you to withdraw your mind-reading (and false) assertion, please.

Gary, I know you well enough to have predicted how you'd respond--with overblown rhetorical comparisons designed to make my comment seem as stupid and braindead as possible, but decided it wasn't worthwhile to respond in advance to something you hadn't said yet. It's tiresome anticipating every sort of deliberately uncharitable misreading a person can make of one's words and dismantling them ahead of time. There are two points here--

1. Did Dianne believe what she was passing on was likely to be true? Yes, probably she did, so that wouldn't be comparable to you passing on vicious remarks you knew were false. It also wouldn't be comparable to a lunatic of some sort passing on rumors he believes in, unless you think it is sheer lunacy to think that US congressmen in the 19th Century might have favored genocide.

2. Does Dianne have good reason to believe what she thinks is true? I don't know. It's not entirely out of the range of possibility that some Congressmen favored genocide. What would be really helpful in this situation would be actual evidence. So if you happen to know that what Dianne said was false, then I would welcome your intervention to set the record straight, though I'd probably deplore any snarkiness that accompanied it. Snark by itself-well, you can get that by the truckload online. I've gotten to the point where I'm sick of it most days. I know enough about American history to know that some Americans, including prominent ones, did express Nazi-like sentiments regarding Native Americans. Whether it was said in Congress I don't know. It's something that we're all free to try and find out on our own if we want--Dianne made it perfectly clear she doesn't know if it's true, but in my case it's made me curious. But I don't have time to do any research right now--I'm only writing this much because of your post.

In later posts you've brought in Dianne's wealthy German comment. Read in context, it was clear she had no antisemitic intent. I thought your initial correction was just right in tone and substance, but now things are heating up nicely into a full-fledged flamewar, where it becomes obligatory to not only correct people, but assume the absolute worst of them. Time to abandon this thread.

I'll close by saying I've become one of your fans, Gary, but the snark/information ratio of your comments is sometimes higher than it needs to be. And nobody comes off well in a flamewar, IMO.

Phil: tnxs for clarifying. I looked it up (no mistrust, just cite-addicted :) ) and "Paid blood donors can only donate plasma, and this plasma is then used by pharmaceutical companies to make drugs."

Was it different in the past? I seem to remember that people could make a small amount in the States from giving blood. But as stated, my only real comparison knowledge is from the infertility related subjects.

Anyway, I just wanted to show that there are area's where we are 'more calvinist' than the US, and area's where we are 'less calvinist', but that on the whole we work in comparable systems. This discussion is enlighting, but it distracts from the bigger point I tried to make I'm afraid.

Off to basketball now.

Gary Farber: In English, an unmodified plural stands as an absolute. To not so stand, it must be modified. That's how English grammar works.

Not always. If I say "Republicans are implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal", I'm not committing libel against Sebastian or Charles. In Dianne's case she was trying, best I can tell, to say that German Jews thrived both economically and socially as a community, not that all German Jews were wealthy and well-respected. And I get the sense from your later comments on this thread that you realize that was likely her meaning.

I'll grant you that people should tread very carefully when talking about matters of race or ethnicity. I just think that that consideration needs to be a two-way street, as much as possible, and, frankly, I don't blame her for just ignoring the barbs and moving on. I wish I had that level of self-control.

"You might possibly wish to consider slightly more carefully what you are saying, or repeating."

I took "repeating" to imply anti-Semitic propaganda, thus I thought this was more along the lines of "watch what you say" than "please clarify your meaning". Was I incorrect in this regard?

I am not happy when people assert that I am or have been dishonest. I invite you to withdraw your mind-reading (and false) assertion, please.

I had composed a snide reply to this, but, having read Donald's more temperate comment above, I've thought better of it. I'm sorry for imputing dishonesty to you, Gary. I still see inconsistency between what you said and what you wrote, but I'll practice what I preach, and assume you were only trying to guide Dianne toward what she really meant. I only hope that you, too, will take to heart what Donald says, because I agree that you contribute a lot to these discussions, more than most, and conflicts such as this only distract from that net positive.

Um, if I may interject...I see what GF is mad about now. What I meant was that German Jews were relatively well off, tolerated, and integrated into "mainstream" society compared to Jews in Eastern Europe. Not compared to Germans in general or people in the...can you call it first world in this context...in general, but compared to Jewish people in other parts of Europe. If I said or implied that I thought that Jewish people in Germany were wealthier than average for the country or that (even if they were) that somehow meant that they "deserved" the Holocaust I apologize. That's not what I meant.

My initial source for saying what I did was, in fact, a German Jew: a descendent of a family that stayed in Germany through WWII, hidden by some friends who weren't so keen on the whole ethnic cleansing thing. He made the argument that Israel, a homeland, was necessary for the survival of the Jewish people because they could never trust a society where they weren't a majority--and gave Germany as an example. (The argument being that if even a "nice", tolerant country like pre-Nazi Germany can go insane like that, who can you trust to protect the rights of an unpopular minority?)

If you want an actual, on line source, see here, for example

Or alternately, Wikapedia A quote from that article: "Jews experienced a period of legal equality from 1848 until the rise of Nazi Germany, playing a key role in German arts and sciences, and becoming deeply integrated into German society. In the opinion of the historian Fritz Stern by the end of 19th century, what had emerged was a “Jewish-German symbiosis” where German Jews had merged elements of German and Jewish culture into a unique new one. Approximately 100,000 German Jews fought with the German army in World War I and enjoyed full equality in the Weimar Republic, many receiving high political positions like Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor."

Jewish culture in pre-Nazi Germany was rich, complex, and beautiful. And if it's anti-Semetic to say so then this must be some use of the term "anti-Semetic" that I didn't previously know about.

DJ: "Did Dianne believe what she was passing on was likely to be true? Yes, probably she did, so that wouldn't be comparable to you passing on vicious remarks you knew were false."

No, it wouldn't. It would be comparable to other people passing on highly inflammatory views they didn't know to be true or untrue, but they were inclined to believe without bothering to check if they were actually true or untrue. Which is what the examples I gave were intended to be cases of.

"It's not entirely out of the range of possibility that some Congressmen favored genocide."

Oh, I think it's clear that some did.

That is, however, not remotely close to saying:

...that in the 19th century Congress spent time debating the "final solution to the Indian problem."
Note that she used quotation marks. Quotation marks are used to indicate a precise quotation. They are not used to indicate a paraphrase, or a vague resemblence, or a vaguely similar meanings. They are quotation marks. Either Congress specifically held at least one debate using those words, or it did not. There is no available alternative meaning, although it's entirely possible that Diane was, again, simply being irresponsibly sloppy in her wording, and didn't understand what she was doing when she put those words in quotation marks.

I'm always inclined to believe people are writing sloppily, and don't understand very well how to write, over assuming they are consciously and with malice aforethought, carefully meaning what they write, when they show consistent signs of careless writing.

But it's up to people to make clear, after the fact, when that is the case, if they want that case to be taken as correct. If they choose to let their statements stand, that's their choice, too.

Diane is perfectly free to come modify or withdraw her statements, of course, and I shall happily then accept that. I much prefer to think well of people than to not. I prefer to exist in a universe where I think well of people, rather than direly of them. If I'm in an environment where I find too many people I think direly of, I'll leave, after all. So I much prefer that Diane now come and say "oops, I was writing sloppily; I didn't mean that at all!; sorry!"

"I know enough about American history to know that some Americans, including prominent ones, did express Nazi-like sentiments regarding Native Americans."

Very much so. And people should be highly aware of that, and if they're not, they should be reminded, when it's relevant. I completely agree with that.

"Read in context, it was clear she had no antisemitic intent."

And I know no reason to assume otherwise. As I've said. Again, I welcome her correcting and clarifying her remarks. She's, as I said, posted twice since I invited her to do so, and she posted twice, over a twelve-hour period, without so modifiying her remarks, but I can still believe that that's just lack of attention. I await whatever she'll say when she comes back to address it, should she choose to address it.


One other thing: my source for the "final solution to the Indian problem" quote was a historian at U of Chicago whose area of study was (presumably still is but I've long since lost contact with him) 19th century US-American history, particularly the history of the frontier. He's spent time reading the archives of 19th century Congressional debate and said that the phrase appeared there. If I were talking to him today I'd probably ask for more details, such as whether this was a well accepted comment or a random looney spouting off, when exactly it was said, could he give me a reference, etc. But at the time I was a naive 19 year old and didn't think to do so. So until I have a few months to read congressional records or find a reliable secondary source, I won't be able to say for certain that it's true or not. But I find it entirely believable that it might be. There were unquestionably acts of genocide committed by the whites against the Amerind in the 18th and 19th century and acts of cultural genocide well into the 20th century. Whether anyone ever had a systemic plan to wipe out every last individual and whether that plan was ever proposed as law...that one can debate about. But to pretend that the US government has and always had good intentions towards the Amerind population is...factually inaccurate. I won't go further than that.

Gromit: "I had composed a snide reply to this, but, having read Donald's more temperate comment above, I've thought better of it. I'm sorry for imputing dishonesty to you, Gary."

Okay. Accepted. Done.

Diane:

What I meant was that German Jews were relatively well off, tolerated, and integrated into "mainstream" society compared to Jews in Eastern Europe. Not compared to Germans in general or people in the...can you call it first world in this context...in general, but compared to Jewish people in other parts of Europe. If I said or implied that I thought that Jewish people in Germany were wealthier than average for the country or that (even if they were) that somehow meant that they "deserved" the Holocaust I apologize. That's not what I meant.
Okay. Good. My only remaining point is that you are still, however, over-generalizing (and I'm sure this is just a matter of using language carefully, not a matter of anti-Semitism at all, let me be clear), when you say that "German Jews were relatively well off [...] compared to Jewish people in other parts of Europe."

If you said "most," I'd let it it slide. But there were also still plenty of poor rural German Jews who lived no better than similar Jews in Poland or Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and there were plenty of poor urban German Jews who etc. It would be an error to overlook this fact and to assume that all German Jews were middle-class, or that there weren't lowest-lower-class German Jews living in similarly crap circumstances to Jews in neightboring countries. That's all.

Thank you for clarifying. I'm sorry the discussion was prolonged by other people prolonging what could have been a simple exchange, but that's the norm for open many-to-many communications media, of course.

"He made the argument that Israel, a homeland, was necessary for the survival of the Jewish people because they could never trust a society where they weren't a majority--and gave Germany as an example."

Yes. This is not an obscure argument.

And if it's anti-Semetic to say so then this must be some use of the term "anti-Semetic" that I didn't previously know about.
This, however, was a completely unnecessary thing to say, and entirely unhelpful, since no one claimed you were being anti-Semitic. (Though it helps to be able to spell "anti-Semitic.")

No one here accused you of being anti-Semitic. Or racist. Or sexist. Or of having an ugly big toe. Or of any other things you weren't accused of being. So it's gratuituous to add a defense against an accusation not made.

And to say "Jewish culture in pre-Nazi Germany was rich, complex, and beautiful. And if it's anti-Semetic to say so..." is a wonderful case of declaring yourself a martyr for engaging in an hallucination. Better to avoid that sort of thing.

"But to pretend that the US government has and always had good intentions towards the Amerind population is...factually inaccurate. I won't go further than that."

Again, responding to things no one has said is extremely unhelpful, save in feeling unjustifiably persecuted.

If someone here in this thread has engaged in such a "pretense," give the link and quote the words.

Otherwise, you might wish to withdraw your assertion that someone here has made such a "pretense." And you might possibly wish to avoid continuing to mis-state what people have written, perhaps. Or not.

"If you said "most," I'd let it it slide. But there were also still plenty of poor rural German Jews who lived no better than similar Jews in Poland or Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and there were plenty of poor urban German Jews who etc."

I tend to think of populations in terms of their average rather than their range--hence, I meant that on average 19th/early 20th century German Jews were relatively well off compared to Eastern Eurpean Jews. I might say in the same way that whites in the US are relatively well off compared to Latinos, yet know that my essentially white grandfather grew up dirt poor and my Latina/Mestiza grandmother grew up relatively wealthy. But your point is a good one. Please retrospectively add "most" to the statement.

"This is not an obscure argument."

Who said it was?

Gary Farber: Thank you for clarifying. I'm sorry the discussion was prolonged by other people prolonging what could have been a simple exchange, but that's the norm for open many-to-many communications media, of course.

Gary, I initially took exception to WDT's much more offensive comment, not yours, and it was you who took up the baton from that point, so I'm not sure what you are getting at here. And once someone attributes an ethnic slur to another commenter, as WDT did, I think the exchange has become anything but "simple".

Gary, to Dianne: This, however, was a completely unnecessary thing to say, and entirely unhelpful, since no one claimed you were being anti-Semitic.

See WDT's comment, here:

And yes, Gary Faber, you are very right about pointing out that bigotry. Jews, as anybody else (in the Prussian State, not everywhere in the German States pre 2nd Reich) had religious freedom since Frederic the Great, and were allowed to financially prosper. That didn't make all heebs rich - what an awful stereotype to say differently!

I'd say that's an accusation of anti-Semitism, right there.

Gromit: Thank you. I was looking for the source of the "heebs" comment to make exactly the point you are making.

"But it's not "twisting" what she said to note that it was a vicious stereotype, and precisely one of the claims of the Nazis and of anti-Semites everywhere"

And this isn't an accusation of anti-Semitism? Looks like it to me.

This post clearly implies that Amerinds have experienced no unusual level of prejudice and have no reason to complain of stereotyping and/or whitewashing of their history than, say, llamas or mermaids.

Gromit,

"I'd say that's an accusation of anti-Semitism, right there."

Prove your accusation, or apologize!
I did not accuse Diane of anti-semitism! How dare you say different!

Okay, let's all take a deep breath.

"If I said or implied that I thought that Jewish people in Germany were wealthier than average for the country"

Dumb question, but weren't the German Jews on average financially better off than other Germans? Much as American Jews, so I would guess, are better off financially than American Gentiles?

And everybody needs to keep in mind that "X are Y" is used to mean "On average, X are Y" or "For each x in X, x is Y", or "A high percentage of Y are X", however much prescriptivists of one sort or another prefer a particular example. If you think statement A would be clearer as statement B, it's pretty likely that a calm request will get you a clarification.

And everybody needs to keep in mind that any subject touching on genocide needs to be handled with extra care.

Anyone not feeling lectured at - work on your posture, or floss more.

"Dumb question, but weren't the German Jews on average financially better off than other Germans?"

There are no dumb questions, only dumb answers and here's one: I don't know. I assumed that because Jews were an oppressed minority (even if less oppressed in 19th century Germany than in 19th century Russia or Poland, on average) that they would be on average financially worse off. But now that you bring it up, I don't actually know.

"Anyone not feeling lectured at - work on your posture, or floss more"

Ahem. (Goes off to floss.)

But it's not "twisting" what she said to note that it was a vicious stereotype, and precisely one of the claims of the Nazis and of anti-Semites everywhere"

And this isn't an accusation of anti-Semitism? Looks like it to me.

I suggest not soon looking for professional employment in working with words. I'm sure you have other strengths.

"I suggest not soon looking for professional employment in working with words."

Amusingly, I happen to know that the person in question is the editor of a well-regarded small press, and is an acclaimed author under the pen name of Pierre Menard.

Wow, are we having fun yet? I'm in my office, so here are the titles promised.

First a caveat, when you get involved with studying native American languages, you concentrate on a particular cultural area/ language family, so my view of Native American population discussions is at a bit of a remove.

While the main works in the 70's giving a native American perspective were by Vine DeLoria Jr. (and remember that the late 60's to mid 70's were a time of powerful radicalization which included AIM seizing Alcatraz (1969), and two incidents at Pine Ridge (73 and 75)), these strongly expressed views were taken by researchers so that the 80's was a time when more realistic ideas about populations beginning to come forward. Russell Thornton's book _American Indian Holocaust and Survival_ came out in 1987, and, as I mentioned, you begin to see tha reflected in popular culture with the more sympathetic portrait in Dances with Wolves (1990). No thought really arises ab ovo, so one has to realize that discussions of the morbidity of diseases and the realization of the possibility of the decimation (not a good word because that only suggests 1 out of 10) of cultures by introduced diseases. Books like the 1976 Plagues and Peoples by William McNeill and the 1986 book by Crosby, Ecological Imperialism, sets the stage for Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.

These discussions led to Stannard's 1992 book American Holocaust: the Conquest of the New World, which many historians thought was too extreme in its indictment of the European conquest and the discussion led to James Wilson's 1998 The Earth shall Weep, the 1999 Pulitzer prize for history nominee, Paula Marks, In a Barren Land: American Indian Dispossession and Survival and Richter's Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (2002 finalist).

Since we are talking about received wisdom, I think that these works show a shift in the thinking about native Americans, though I certainly acknowledge that the shift is not as much as anyone should be happy with.

Costner used his influence and money to develop the 500 Nations mini series (1995), which is also a very sympathetic portrait of the problems Native Americans have faced. The book accompanying the series is also excellent.

I hope someone finds those books interesting and is encouraged to read up about it.

WDT: Prove your accusation, or apologize!
I did not accuse Diane of anti-semitism! How dare you say different!

Are you saying that "bigotry" and "awful stereotypes" directed at jews are not, in your view, anti-Semitism? Or that your word "heebs" is not evocative of the same? Or are you saying you did not understand that Gary's original criticism, which you commended and elaborated on, was directed specifically at Dianne? Knowing which part you dispute will help me to know how to address your complaint.

"To quote myself:
"...That didn't make all heebs rich - what an awful stereotype to say differently! And, thusly, Germans of Jewish belief defined themselves as exactly that - Germans!..."

Where do I mention Diane?
But to quote Diane: "...German Jews were wealthy and well respected in the 19th and early 20th centuries...."

"German Jews were wealthy.." is an absolute construction, meaning "All German Jews were wealthy", and is a gawdaweful thing to say, because indeed, it is an old and horrible stereotype.
That is a fact.
Now, the same as Mr. Faber, I quite naturally have assumed that this is not what Diane truly was trying to say here.
Had I thought so, I would constructed my sentence in the 2nd person, and not impersonally have stated that the sentence as such represents a stereotype.
I very well would have said: " Gosh, dear Diane, that is awfully anti-semitic of you to say so!"
However, I did not!

As to my use of the word "heeb" - well, both my ex wives were heebs, a lot of my friends are, and there is a Jewish cultural magazine published in NYC by that very name.
You should hear what my gay/lesbian/transgendered friends use in terminology. You'd be shocked, no doubt.
What you will never hear me say though:"All gays are great interior decorators" or "all jews are wealthy".
Because I do not stereotype.

If you still have difficulties with my use of semantics, please post precise questions, and I'd feel honoured to answer them to the best of my abilities.

If you could extend this kindness back to me by refraining to imply meaning into my comments that frankly is unsupported by common definition of the English language, that would be very nice.

And thank you, Liberal Japinicus for your great, in depth research.

One more thing to add: for those that are afraid that a "Martyr" could be created in David Irving - Baader/Meinhoff kinda fizzed out after Stammheim, and that is as martyr as it gets.
The same will happen to the ultra-rights. The one thing, the only thing that bullies have a problem with is somebody their own damn size actually standing up to them.
Appeasement does not work with them, not at all!
I am sure that others that have actually encountered and engaged them, like Orcinus for example, do agree.

I am not at all convinced, that most of the theories in this thread are formulated by people that actually know the subject matter and the individuals involved in the ultra-right wing sphere in any up close and personal way. Like, dude, totally not convinced at all.
On the latter I am sure that Eugene Berthold Friedrich Brecht would concurr.

Definition of "absolute construction" for anyone confused.

So "Kenyans are good distance runners" is exactly equivalent to "All Kenyans are good distance runners"? Is this supposed to be a descriptivist truth?

"is an acclaimed author under the pen name of Pierre Menard."

Gracias, Rilkefan, pero yo no soy Borges.

"I am not at all convinced, that most of the theories in this thread are formulated by people that actually know the subject matter and the individuals involved in the ultra-right wing sphere in any up close and personal way."

I was the one, or at least one of the ones, who brought up the potential "martyrdom" problem. I must admit that, as far as I know, I don't know a single Nazi or even NDPer or Republikaner (the German party, not the US one) personally. I'm also not sure that I know German/Austrian culture well enough to decipher whether Irving's being tossed in prison for what he said would make his ideas more or less attractive to the average Austrian or German, whoever he or she may be. I'd worry about it in the US though. I was hoping that someone like you or TH could give me some insight into the culture and tell me whether you thought this concern was realistic or not. (I take it that you think that it is not?)

WDT: Where do I mention Diane?
But to quote Diane: "...German Jews were wealthy and well respected in the 19th and early 20th centuries...."

I really don't follow. Were you describing Dianne's comment as "bigotry" or were you not? And if not, what were you describing as bigoted?

If you still have difficulties with my use of semantics, please post precise questions, and I'd feel honoured to answer them to the best of my abilities.

That's just what I did here. And, respectfully, I'm finding your reply to those questions muddled and self-contradictory.

If you could extend this kindness back to me by refraining to imply meaning into my comments that frankly is unsupported by common definition of the English language, that would be very nice.

I'll certainly do my best to comply. On what definition do we disagree, in your view?

Rilkefan:
"So 'Kenyans are good distance runners' is exactly equivalent to 'All Kenyans are good distance runners'? Is this supposed to be a descriptivist truth?"

Exactly! Please tell that to the face of Senator Obama Barack, (D) Ill, and follow up with a demand to distance himself from comments that Harry Belafonte may or may not have made at some point or another. Just to see if you still feel so secure about your assertion.
Without a qualifier it means exactly that! All Kenyans!

And "German Jews were wealthy" remains a bad stereotype.
"Many German Jews were, in difference to medieval times, allowed to accumulate wealth and were widely treated as equal citizens", that would not be a stereotype.

More later, gotta run..

Without a qualifier it means exactly that! All Kenyans!

No, without a quantifier it's ambiguous on its face, so one must resort to contextual (and/or extra-contextual) clues to determine the correct interpretation. Personally I think the correct interpretation of Dianne's original comment was pretty obvious (and obviously not what Gary feared and WDT assumed). But when conversing with strangers in a public, often-contentious forum such as this, it's a pretty good idea always to use an explicit quantifier.

I channel James T. Kirk: People who think unmodified nouns are "ambiguous" are stupid, and ignorant of English grammar, and are not apt to find work as copyeditors.

See: obviously I meant "some people." Not you, dear reader. Nothing to be offended by in the above sentence, because it refers only to "some people." Some say.

Or not. Take your pick.

Except that the correct answer is unambiguous and non-subjective; it's helpful to understand the structure of noun phrases; when a noun phrase has no determiner, premodifier, or postmodier, it stands on its own, and encompasses everything in its class; a statement about "people" is not, in fact, a statement about "some people."

  • Republicans are implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal.
  • Africans were trafficked in the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Civilians were killed in the firebombing of Tokyo.
  • Hondas are reliable cars.
  • Women played a significant role in twentieth-century American politics.
  • All of these are true and comprehensible statements, yet none of them implies an absolute. All civilians weren't killed in the firebombing of Tokyo, only some. All Hondas are not reliable, but on average they are quite good cars. Dianne's assertion was ambiguous at worst.

    Gromit, obviously yours is larger and you can spray further.
    So, what is your point anyway?
    Seemingly you are extremely effective around your belly, but what exactly is the purpose of your exercise and what is the target of your agenda?
    There is clearly some obstacles you grudge about with the English language, and you repeatedly affirmed that you are unconcerned about whatever beaver gets stuck in your combine-harvester of righteousness.
    So, again: what exactly is your point?

    To abolish English and replace it with Gromitish?
    To wank your non-sensicle arguments against the near-likeminded because you lack the bollocks to confront the real enemy?
    You make me feel lost.
    Please, enlighten me!

    Here is a very clear question, and I need an answer, because I really don't know if I am here dealing with a drunk and incoherent, but well meaning individual, or with a vicious troll.

    Would you, or would you not say "Kenyans are good distance runners" in Senator Obama Baracks face on a public cocktail party with you prime object of sexual desire present?
    Well, would you?
    Yes or no - that simple, Gromit, would you say that, or not, and remember that posting on the net is public for all eternity!
    What's it gonna be?

    If you, Gromit, see a logical jump in the steps posted above, by all means explain yourself.

    As a matter of fact, no matter what kinda person you'll turn out to be after thorough investigation, you are quite certainly not a major player in all the evil that assuredly goes around these days.

    It'd be nice though, were you coming on board with the team that fights evil. Please, join!

    Diane,
    indeed, in a cost-benefit ratio in Austria, i'd say to lock David Irving up for a ver, very long time!
    He ain't no Hitler writing "Mein Kampf" in jail!
    If Baader Meinhoff could not rock the boat in Stammheim, this 3rd rate nitwit won't either.
    Bullies hate only one thing: somebody standing up to them!
    Nothing that the pseudo-neo-nazis laugh more about, than the (perceived) weak and spineless "democrats", unable to stand up for their own most basic fundaments!
    Enough of Vichy Democrats!
    No more belly button viewing and innate haggling with near-likeminded!
    No, them right-wingers don't need a 'ralleying point' - they have rallied already! If it has not affected your household already, you are not paying attention!
    With all due respect I say that, Diane, because I do admire the discourse with you.
    Thank you for that.

    I'm not sure if I'm pouring water or gas on this, but I would observe that making this hinge on interpretations of noun phrases is really problematic from both sides, especially given that the interpretation of bare nouns is something that is not settled in the linguistic literature. Sentences like

    Whales are mammals.
    Cigarettes cause cancer.
    Visitors need to register at the front office.

    are absolute, suggesting that it is context that produces the interpretation. As such, perhaps both sides are pushing a bit too hard to argue that their interpretation is the only one possible. Just my two pfenning.

    WDT: There is clearly some obstacles you grudge about with the English language, and you repeatedly affirmed that you are unconcerned about whatever beaver gets stuck in your combine-harvester of righteousness.

    Is this some kind of performance art? I don't know of a way to say this without sounding rude, but should you really be lecturing anyone about the proper use of the English language? At the very least Gary for the most part holds himself to the ridiculously high standards he demands of others.

    Would you, or would you not say "Kenyans are good distance runners" in Senator Obama Baracks face on a public cocktail party with you prime object of sexual desire present?
    Well, would you?
    Yes or no - that simple, Gromit, would you say that, or not, and remember that posting on the net is public for all eternity!
    What's it gonna be?

    I notice you still haven't answered my simple questions. I wouldn't even mention this, except you expressed a willingness to answer simple, direct queries.

    I will answer your question, though. I probably wouldn't offer Senator Obama my opinion of the athletic prowess of Kenyans for a number of reasons, not least of which being that I know and care nothing about the subject, and to do so would be to squander a rare opportunity. However, a bit of googling shows me that Kenyans have won every olympic steeplechase except those they have boycotted since 1964.

    Oops, does the sentence I just wrote imply that all Kenyans have won olympic medals?

    liberal japonicus: As such, perhaps both sides are pushing a bit too hard to argue that their interpretation is the only one possible.

    I don't mean to argue that my interpretation of Dianne's comment is the only one possible. I'm trying to say that Gary's interpretation is not the only one possible, and that context would tend to support my interpretation. And you are right, context is key, but note that interpretation of the three sentences you offer rely to some extent on assumed prior knowledge of the subjects.

    So "Whales are mammals" is absolute so long as the reader has some notion that "whale" would necessarily be wholly encompassed by the class "mammal". On the other hand, "cigarettes cause cancer" would most truthfully refer to statistical tendencies, since smoking one cigarette won't necessarily cause cancer. Absent knowledge of the way carcinogens work, I'd call this ambiguous. Given the prerequisite knowledge, it is quite clear, though still not, strictly speaking, an absolute (is that a redundancy?).

    I hope that makes sense.

    would most truthfully refer to statistical tendencies, since smoking one cigarette won't necessarily cause cancer

    The subject of statistical tendencies is one that has appeared at various times here, but it's one of those things that keeps popping up and derailing discussions, especially given the dynamics of internet discussions. If you knew I were a Redskin fan and heard me say 'Cowboy fans are losers', it would be really hard for me to try and wiggle out of it by saying that I didn't mean all Cowboy fans and if I say cigarettes cause cancer as a reason not to smoke, it would not be a argument against it to smoke one cigarette and claim that because you didn't get cancer after a certain length of time, the claim is false.

    Again, the urge is to try and checkmate your opponent by creating a situation where you can lay into them, which views these discussions like a chess game. I've seen far to many boards crash and burn because people who would probably agree 90% of the time (if not more), get obessed with 'winning'. Again, perhaps I should just ignore this, but that is what all this appears to me. To paraphrase Victor Hugo, there are no absolutes, including this one. :^)

    liberal japonicus: ...it would not be a argument against it to smoke one cigarette and claim that because you didn't get cancer after a certain length of time, the claim is false.

    That's why the statement is not an absolute in the sense that Gary and WDT are suggesting it must necessarily be. This is not to say that the statement is false only that the absolute interpretation that "every cigarette will cause cancer" is false. This is comparable to concluding that Dianne's original phrasing must necessarily mean that Gary's German Jewish ancestors were wealthy and well-respected when she could have easily have been talking about averages or comparative measures (as it turns out she was).

    Again, the urge is to try and checkmate your opponent by creating a situation where you can lay into them, which views these discussions like a chess game. I've seen far to many boards crash and burn because people who would probably agree 90% of the time (if not more), get obessed with 'winning'.

    I understand and appreciate your concern, and will try to keep it in mind going forward.

    erm, anybody here ever heard of "speech act theory"?

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