Remembering The “S.S. St. Louis”

stlouis_mapshowingvoyage

May 27, 1939, qualifies as a “day that shall live in infamy” in Franklin Roosevelt’s famous phrasing, except that he was deeply involved in this particular infamy, and thus would have been unlikely to so describe it.

On May 13, the S.S. St. Louis had sailed from Hamburg, Germany on a route Havana, Cuba. The ship was carrying 937 passengers, most of them German Jews escaping their escalating persecution under the Third Reich. Kristallnacht had hit the German Jewish community just six months earlier, killing 91 Jews and destroying hundreds of business and homes. The Final Solution was just months away from being aggressively implemented.

The official destination of the St. Louis was Cuba, but the real objective of the desperate refugees was to reach the U.S., Land of the Free and the Brave, as George M. Cohan put it. They had applied for U.S. visas and were only going to stay in Cuba until they could enter the United States legally. Cuba definitely did not want them. There had been a huge anti-Semitic demonstration in Havana before the ship set sail, and rumors were spread in the German press that the Jews on board were Communists.

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Comment Of The Day: “From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…”

hitler-art

Genie Baskir, who has commented on Ethics Alarms since 2011 and averages about two entries a year, makes her latest comment count: it’s an unusually tough and moving Comment of the Day, on the post, From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…:

Everything was stolen from Leone and her own children and grandchildren. The painting represents the hole in her life and that of her descendants whether obvious or not. The University of Oklahoma’s insistence on keeping the spoils of Holocaust looting represents the continued suffering of every victim of massacre and mass murder since WWII. Overcoming this trauma does not absolve offspring collaborators of their offenses and, let me make this clear, the University of Oklahoma is an offspring collaborator. It knows that Leone Meyer was in the subordinate position in this negotiation and now it wants to continue it descendant collaboration in mass murder and looting because it thinks it can just like the first Nazis held their collective victims’ feet to the fire 80 years ago.

The majority of Holocaust survivors are dead now but their children know and remember the hole in their collective lives as they are collateral victims themselves. We know and remember. Leone Meyer knows and remembers.

My own mother died not ever knowing what happened to her parents and brother. Both of my parents were sole survivors of large extended families. Imagine having no grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or any close blood relations. Imagine being a child processing that everyone of immediate consequence has been murdered. I claim no uniqueness. Massacres and the resulting survivors are still a common occurrence. What’s missing is the empathy and compassion of those who have not that knowledge.

When my mother, aged 15, returned to her home after walking across Poland in late 1944 the next door neighbor, stunned that she survived, reported that the home had been looted by all of the neighbors. He then returned to her a doll and her movie star picture albums. The neighbor then told her to get out of town or she would be murdered by her other neighbors who were complicit in the disappearance of the Jewish families.

The back of the returned movie star pictures had my mother’s mother’s handwriting on them. This handwriting is the only extant evidence that Augusta Pecenik Fischer ever lived at all. Lucky for me that no one is fighting me for these artifacts.

If possession is 9/10ths of the law and the painting is still in France then let France continue to atone for its own collaboration in mass murder. Who will enforce the Oklahoma District Judge’s Order anyway? Who does he or she think they are? After everything that has happened to us, we are afraid of a contempt order from a Judge with no enforcement ability anyway? This Judge is another offspring collaborator if he or she thinks those of us with knowledge care about the ruling.

The burden is on those of us with the knowledge of such tragedy and trauma to try and relieve the suffering of those who are continuing victims. The Judaicide of the 20th century is unique only in that its surviving victims had the strength and wherewithal to demand wholeness in the aftermath. No one was ever made whole but the ability to continue the struggle was rejuvenating as was the ability to start again with new families and offspring and new wealth.

Anyone who knew my mother in the United States without knowing what happened to her would never have guessed what was taken from her when she was just a little girl. Her suffering was never an exterior mien burdening all who met her. She channeled her efforts at wholeness into amassing her own impressive wealth and living well as her revenge. Leone Meyer is struggling for wholeness as represented by this great work of art and she is already the winner.

Offspring collaborators like the University of Oklahoma are empty vessels of opportunity mixed with ignorance and hatred for their moral obligations. We must pray for them to realize the errors of their ways.

Wednesday Ethics Wind-Down / Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/14-15/2020: The Unmasking Of News Media And Social Media Bias Continues…[UPDATED!]

phantom-of-the-opera

1. Notes from The Great Stupid. Here is a passage from a New York Times book review of “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality”:

In examining the pressure to partner with the opposite gender we find the extortions of capitalism, the misogyny of violence against women, the racist and xenophobic erasure of nonwhite families, and the homophobic hatreds that pervade so much of everyday life.”

Well, that and the biological imperative to continue the species. This brilliance is the work of Haley Mlotek,  a senior editor for SSENSE. Imagine: this is the quality of thought among our intellectual class.

No wonder the political class is so idiotic.

2. So this is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is it? Nikole  Hannah-Jones, faced with a careful and accurate fisking of her fraudulent “1619 project” by Times columnist Bret Stephens (covered by Ethics Alarms here) did not try to rebut him, or make a civil, reasoned argument. She did what her entire generation of prominent African Americans have been conditioned to do, because it works so well. She accused Stephens and the Times of racism, with a dash of sexism for flavor. Hannah-Jones tweeted,

“In 1894, the NYT called Ida B. Wells a ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ for daring to tell the truth about lynching. 100 years later she earned the Pulitzer Prize. These efforts to discredit my work simply put me in a long tradition of [black women] who failed to know their places.”

(It is satisfying to watch the Washington Post pounce on the Times over this fiasco. The rivalry between the papers is one of the few factors that ever pushed one of them into practicing actual journalism these days.)

As for Nikole Hannah-Jones, she is a child. Her tantrum was irresponsible and an embarrassment to the Times, and she should, by rights, be fired. She won’t be, because of black privilege, now enhanced in the wake of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. The embarrassment for the Times, however, will linger. This woman was given leave by the paper to create and promote a false historical narrative that was not designed to enlighten but to further a political agenda. In truth, the Times deserves the embarrassment even more than Hannah-Jones deserves to be fired.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/6/19: Goose Shit!

Good morning!

My best friend of long standing’s  favorite singer is Nat King Cole. He really doesn’t sound like anyone else, does he? I wonder how many millennials have heard his amazing voice, or would have the perspective to appreciate it.

Speaking of listening, I was prompted this morning to reflect on what a vital life-competence skill listening is. It is really an acquired skill: various Facebook discussions make it clear that most of the Facebook Borg warriors are no longer listening (or otherwise paying attention) to any information that doesn’t bolster their confirmation bias.

What made me think about this today was happening upon an early morning showing of “Casablanca” on Turner Movie Classics. I must have seen the classic a hundred or more times since  first watched the whole movie in college, and yet today was the first time I heard what “Rick” Blaine’s real first name was. All the other times I watched the movie, this passed by my consciousness without leaving a trace, but his real name is used three times. (Hint: it’s not Richard, though that’s what Ingrid Bergman calls him…)

1. A great President in many ways, but also a terrible human being. Watch the culture and the news media bury this. “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust,” a new book (published in September) reveals new archival evidence that shows FDR’s callous and bigoted treatment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust. I know the author, Dr. Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, as a result of his assisting The American Century Theater with several productions that involved the Jews and Israel.

The book’s revelations are not shocking to anyone who had looked at the evidence objectively even before this new material, but Roosevelt is a hallowed Democrat Party icon, and it has been, and I assume will continue to be, resistant to any effort to inform the public of this horrific moral and ethical failing, one of  many FDR was guilty of inflicting.  From a review: Continue reading

“Should Bystanders Have a Legal Duty To Intervene?” Of Course Not, But It’s Worth Thinking About Why It’s A Terrible Idea

The real mystery is why a law professor would ever conclude that it was a good idea.

Amos N. Guiora, a professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, has authored The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust, In it, he addresses the   bystander-victim relationship, focusing on the Holocaust. He comes to the remarkable conclusion that a society cannot rely on morality, ethics and compassion alone to move its members to come to the assistance of another human being in danger. He insists that it is a legal issue, and that society should make the obligation to intervene a legal duty, and  non-intervention a crime.

Wow. Here is a shining example of how bias can make smart people not only stupid, but blind. I have not read the book (I did listen to this podcast), because his contention is self-evidently anti-ethical, and typifies the attitude that has led to the criminalizing of so much in U.S. society that rigorous enforcement of the law would make the nation a police state. The Holocaust is the worst possible starting point for this issue: to state the most obvious absurdity, if the government is the victimizer, who would enforce the laws against not assisting victims? I get it, though: the professor is angry and bitter that the international community and Christians didn’t forcefully intervene before Hitler was on the verge of liquidating Non-Aryans from the face of the earth. But no law within imagination would have prevented this unique catastrophe. Nor would the kinds of laws he advocates improve the fate of most victims, or be practically enforceable.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the duty to rescue often and in great detail, and often notes, “when ethics fail, the law steps in.” The second stage of that statement is “and usually makes a mess of it.”  This is the compliance/ethics divide so exposed by corporate compliance rules, regulations and laws, which have done little to improve corporate conduct, and have provided cover for complainant and creative misconduct, like Wall Street leading up to the 2008 crash. Giving up on the teaching and strengthening of ethical values in society in favor of mandating what the state regards as “right” by inflicting punishment degrades society and insults humanity, treating it as if it is incapable of learning to care about others and society at large.  It also seldom works. The duty to rescue exists, but society must encourage and foster it by nurturing ethical society members, not by threatening them with punishment.

Society cannot mandate compassion—a law requiring charity?—kindness—a ticket for not rescuing an abandoned dog or helping a blind man across the street?—honesty–fines for telling a date that you’ll call the next day when you won’t?—-or courage —Sweep that child up whose in the path of a semi, or to jail. Of course it can’t. Increasing reliance on the state to force what a powerful group regard as “good behavior” is the catalyst of the current totalitarian bent of the American Left. Doesn’t the professor realize that what he is advocating leads directly to the Holocaust, and not away from it?

This is one slippery slope that needs a fence around it. Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Roddie W. Edmonds (1919-1985)

All these years later, and we are still learning about heroic acts of World War II that missed the pages of history.

Roddie W. Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee just became the first U.S. soldier to be named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor bestowed by Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance and Research Center to  non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Edmonds, who died 30 years ago, never even told his son about the dramatic episode that earned him the posthumous honor, and his story only came to light in the past few years when two men who he saved came forward to tell a tale that could have been crafted in Hollywood. ( As you will see, long after the true event, it was.). He had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and was one of about a thousand U.S. soldiers taken to the Stalag IXA camp in Ziegenhain, Germany in 1945. There were 200 Jewish soldiers in the group, and the Nazi officers in charge of the camp announced that the Jewish soldiers were to assemble outside their barracks to be taken to labor camps, and probably killed. Continue reading

“When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound” Files: Auschwitz

auschwitz-showers

From The Jerusalem Post:

Israeli tourists who arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Sunday expressed shock and outrage over what appeared to be the placement of showers near the entrance to the site. Asked about the outcry, a spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial told The Jerusalem Post that “no showers were placed at the parking lot of the museum.” “Because of the heat wave in Poland, sprinklers which cool the air were placed near the entrance to the museum. They are located near the area where – in the open sun and without any possibility of hiding in the shade – a queue of people who collect the entry cards to the memorial site is formed. “Among visitors there are many people who come from countries where such high temperatures as we have this summer in Poland do not occur. We have noticed cases of fainting among people. Therefore we must do everything possible to minimize the risks connected with the heat and high temperatures and take care of the safety of health of our visitors. The sprinklers are installed on the days of highest temperatures and removed with the temperature drops.”

“As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” Meir Bulka, 48, told the Post . According to Bulka, he was not the only one deeply disturbed by this unusual scene. “All the Israelis felt this was very distasteful,” he said. “Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick.’” Bulka decided to do something proactive about the situation rather than let it go. He went to the main office and asked the management for an explanation to the strange scene.

“The management decided that it was a good way to cool people off on a very hot day,” Bulka said.

There is something very wrong when those in charge of the Auschwitz historical site decide to erect nozzles misting water downwards at visitors outside the notorious death camp and nobody in involved in the decision detects the obvious problem. Whether the problem is with the administrators, the post-WWII generations, non-Jews, or something else, like Europe and the world, I am not sure. I do know that ethics alarms should have been ringing loudly. Did they malfunction? Or are they not installed?

Clues to what is wrong are suggested by the comments made by Ann Althouse’s readers to this story. I’m still trying to figure them out. Her audience is, I presume, ideologically-mixed, tilting to the left, and on the young side, since she is a law professor and many students read her posts. Is the utter insensitivity bordering on hostility to Jewish sensitivity on the little, insignificant matter of the Holocaust displayed here  attributable to ignorance (an excuse the Polish curators of the museum cannot claim), callousness, distance from the events memorialized, antipathy to Israel or anti-Semitism?

Here are 17 out of the 20 comments so far: Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Nicholas Winton (1909 – 2015)

winton and child

Another hero of the Holocaust has died. Nicholas Winton organized and substantially financed the last-minute escape of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, but never sought the fame and public accolades that Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg received. He got the accolades anyway, especially in his native Great Britain and Czechoslovakia, once his heroics were publicized long after they occurred.

I had never heard of him or his exploits until the news reports of his death. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Pope Francis

The Pope and "the Angel of Peace"...

The Pope and “the Angel of Peace”…

Sigh.

I apologize in advance to all the Catholics and others who will be offended by this post. I wish I didn’t have to write it. But I just read one too many “nyah, nyah, nyah conservatives and Republicans, you’re so big on waving God at us and now the Pope says you’re full of crap” Facebook posts from someone who would no more set foot in a church than Damien in “The Omen.”  The Pope is as fair game for criticism when he abuses his influence and power as Kylie Jenner, who was the subject of the previous post, and for similar reasons. To those who say that it is disrespectful for me to compare the Pope’s ethics to those of an ignorant 18-year-old minor celebrity drunk on her own fame, my answer is that the Pope needs to stop acting like one.

I’m going to try to avoid the mocking tone I used with Kylie, I really am.

With great power, the saying goes, comes great responsibility. What I see in this Pope is a very, very nice and well-meaning man who suddenly was given the power to have his every opinion on any subject immediately plastered all over newspapers across the world and recited by news readers as significant, and literally can’t stop himself. He told an Argentinian journalist last week that he just wants to be remembered as “good guy.”  Mission accomplished: I believe he is a good guy. He’s also an irresponsible guy, who knows or should know that his pronouncements will be exploited for political advantage by people and parties that could not care less about his Church, God and religion generally, but who will use his words  to persuade voters who feel the need to know no more about a subject that what the “Vicar of Christ” tells them.

It may be “good to be Pope,” to paraphrase Mel Brooks, and it’s also not “easy being Pope,” to paraphrase Kermit the Frog. I don’t care: he accepted the job, and with it the duty to do it responsibly. Being a responsible Pope means not shooting off your mouth about every topic that occurs to you. In that same interview, Pope Francis opined that humans care too much about pets. I get it: poverty is, by his own assessment, the single most important aspect of the Church’s mission, so it’s natural for the Pope to believe that the money spent on movies, cable TV, make-up, CDs, and Jack Russell terriers should all be given to the Clinton Foundation or his Church instead. That’s a facile opinion from someone who has a staff catering to his every whim, and who sits on billions in the Vatican Bank. Does the Pope understand loneliness? Does he have any compassion for those suffering from it? Does he understand the needs of my sister, divorced and with both children gone, and her desire to have some unconditional love in the house when she returns to an otherwise empty home,  love that  takes the form of a happy, loyal, Havanese? “Care for pets is like programmed love,” the Pope told the interviewer. “I can program the loving response of a dog or a cat, and I don’t need the experience of a human, reciprocal love.”

My response: “Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and millions of people will assume you got this point of view straight from God.” Continue reading

Ethic Quiz: Is Eva Kor An Ethics Hero, Or An Ethics Dunce?

Kissed by a murderous Nazi. Yum.

Kissed by a murderous Nazi. Yum.

81-year-old Holocaust survivor Eva Kor recounted her memories of being one of Dr. Josef Mengele’s human guinea pigs  in a letter to Oskar Groening, a former member of the SS at Auschwitz-Birkenau who is on trial in Germany for 300,000 counts of accessory to murder:

In May 1944, when we were taken to Auschwitz, my name was Eva Mozes. My family and I were part of the Hungarian transport. My family included my father Alexander Mozes, 44 years old; my mother Jaffa Mozes, 38 years old; my older sister Edit, 14 years old; my middle sister Aliz, 12 years old; and my twin sister, Miriam, 10 years old. Within thirty minutes after arriving on the selection platform, Miriam and I were ripped apart from our family forever. Only she and I survived, because we were used in experiments conducted by .

Within half an hour we became part of a group of twin girls aged two to sixteen: thirteen sets of little girls and one mother. We were taken to a processing center where they cut our hair short and took our clothes away. That evening they returned them with a red cross at the backs. Then they lined us up for tattooing. When my turn came, I decided to cause them as much trouble as a ten year-old could. Two Nazis and two women prisoners restrained me with all their force. They began by heating a needle. When the needle got hot, they dipped it into ink and burned into my left arm, dot by dot, the capital letter A-7063. Miriam became A-7064…

For the next two weeks I only have one clear memory: I was crawling on the floor because I could no longer walk. I was crawling to reach a faucet with water because they did not even give us water anymore.

In 1984, Kor founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors), in an effort to locate other surviving Mengele twins; and in 1995 she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terra Haute, Indiana. She calls herself a “forgiveness advocate,” teaching children:

1. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. I did not know how to survive Auschwitz, but I was determined to do it. Here I am 70 years later because I never gave up.

2. Treat people with respect and fairness to eliminate prejudice from your life.

3. Forgive your worst enemy and forgive anybody who [h]as ever hurt you. I forgave the Nazis and I forgave everybody who hurt me.

Kor is one of the Holocaust survivors testifying at Groening’s trial. On its first day, Groening told the court that  “it is beyond question that I am morally complicit. This moral guilt I acknowledge here, before the victims, with regret and humility.”  Kor told him, “I appreciate the fact that you are willing to come here and face us.” She offered the defendant her hand, and he took it, brought her into a near embrace, and kissed her on the cheek. 

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz as this week ends is…

Is Eva Kor an Ethics Hero, or an Ethics Dunce?

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