I find it deeply disturbing that 1) so few Americans know about the Holocaust or believe it to have been as bad as it was; and 2) I find it disturbing that an actress’s comments have sparked so much debate. Each thing is tragic and sad. But, each is also true.
The Jewish holocaust matters. Our best estimates are that Hitler systematically eradicated the lives of 5.3 million Jews.
Governments (mostly communist and fascist) murdered roughly 205 million civilians (non combatants) between 1914 and 1991. Of these, Hitler and his regime are responsible for 21 million. Stalin and Russia for about 62 million, and Mao for about 65 million. In comparison, roughly 50 million combatants died in war in the same century.
Yes, to be sure, the organized state murdered 4x the number of people war (every war) did.
Granted, 5.3 million is much smaller than 62 or 65. Yet, there are still crucial differences and vital distinctions to be made about the Jewish Holocaust.
First, the National Socialists of Germany and Europe targeted a people specifically for their religion and ethnicity. They were torn from already ghettoized neighborhoods and communities to be wiped out in the camps.
Second, the Jewish survivors have done–unquestionably–more to remember and memorialize the dead more than any other group. Had the Jews not done this, it is almost certain that almost ALL holocausts of the last century would be ignored, forgotten or mocked.
Third, because of the power of the state of Israel, credible law enforcement went into the world–with righteousness and justice–eliminating the enemies of the Jewish people. There are lots and lots of retired Communists around the world. There are (and were) very few retired Nazis. They didn’t live long after the second World War. And, good riddance.
So, Natalie Portman–spout off all you want, but you 1) demean the Jewish people; 2) demean the dignity of ALL persons; and 3) show how historically ignorant you are.