The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.
— Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed (1936)
John Sack’s An Eye for an Eye is a disheartening book. It tells the story of Jewish revenge against their German oppressors in 1945. The book describes how the Russian liberators of the death camps in Poland recruited holocaust survivors to carry out a policy of de-Nazification of the war-torn area. What began as a desire to find, incarcerate, and try their Nazi antagonists, the Jewish survivors became like their tormentors in that they went after noncombatants. The Russians established the Office of State Security and put Jews in charge of the interrogations. “The Office entered German homes and rounded up German men, women, and children—99 percent of them noncombatant, innocent civilians—and took them to cellars, prisons, and 1,255 concentration camps, where inmates subsisted on starvation rations, where typhus ran rampant, and where torture was commonplace. In this brief period, between 60,000 and 80,000 Germans died in the Office’s custody.”
As you can imagine, there were a lot of people who did not want this story told, and even after An Eye for an Eye was published in 1993, the book was denounced and blacklisted even though the facts are not in dispute. The content and conclusions of the book were misrepresented in a number of reviews. Sack was not making a moral equivalency argument comparing what some Jews did to some Germans after the liberation to the near annihilation of the Jewish people by the Nazis. “Sack’s story,” James Stewart writes, “is actually about individuals who fight an internal battle between the teachings of their faith and a natural human desire to seek retribution. The book includes numerous examples of Jews who refused to take Part 1n any attempts to seek vengeance; who, despite the atrocities they had suffered, were in fact horrified by such acts [committed by some of their fellow Jews]. The Jews who did participate in acts of brutality were often racked by guilt; many were driven to alcoholism. The book arguably is about redemption, not revenge.”
While the book is painful reading, there is a line from the Preface that caught my attention: “I decided that in An Eye for an Eye,” Stack writes, “I wouldn’t report that a Jew had beaten a German, tortured a German, or killed a German until the reader could understand why the Jew had done it and even could think, If I’d been that Jew, I’d have done it myself. . . .” As I was reading the book, I kept asking, What is the process of turning rational people into irrational monsters all the while claiming that their actions are rational and moral and actually doing a service to mankind? What are the steps involved in turning your neighbors into dogs to be beaten, swine to be gutted, and refuse to be incinerated?
The first step is to find an unpopular group to blame for a troubled life. The Jews, a despised people historically, were seen as the source of Germany’s economic and social troubles after World War I. Jews who were successful in business were prime targets. Their success meant that someone else was less successful. (A similar argument is used today for calls to “tax the rich” under the false premise that economics is a zero sum game whereby one person’s gains is the result of someone else’s losses.) Here’s a section from the 1934 German National Catechism to demonstrate the tactic:
How has the Jew subjugated the peoples?: “With money. He lent them money and made them pay interest. Thousands and thousands of Germans have been made wretched by the Jews and been reduced to poverty. Farmers whose land had been in the family for more than 100 years were driven from their land because they could not pay the interest.”
The Nazis used envy against the Jews, and as we’ll see not only took their property and sent them off to concentration camps but made it nearly impossible for them to make a living.
The second step is to dehumanize the scapegoated group with demeaning terms that make them seem less sympathetic to the general population. The goal is to turn them into objects of scorn and ridicule for a greater purpose (the salvation of the group) and make the arguments seem rational (if we don’t do this, then we’re all going to perish). The Jews were described as Stinkende schweine! “You stinking pigs!” Schmutzige Juden! “You dirty Jews!” Parszywy Å»ydzie! “You boiled-covered Jew!” In any “rational” world diseased animals must be gotten rid of, and since Jews are diseased animals, the Jews must either be quarantined or exterminated! The use of dehumanizing language made it a little easier to conceive of the Jews as subhuman.
William Brennan makes the point that “pejorative expressions” have been “invoked to devalue individuals and groups now and in times past: deficient human, subhuman/nonhuman, lower animal, parasitic creature, infectious disease, inanimate object, waste product, and nonperson. These demeaning designations have been and continue to be so extensively resorted to that they constitute a veritable war of words.”  A war on words can often turn into a war on people because of their ideas.
Brennan argues further that the “reason particular groups are earmarked for large-scale semantic devaluation and massive oppression is closely linked to ideology. . . . a philosophy, a social theory, a set of interrelated ideas, concepts, beliefs, and values that generate and sustain the dissemination of dehumanizing terminology.”  The dehumanizers can’t use rational arguments or appeal to substantiated empirical evidence to make their case, so they must degrade the opposition in ways that sets them apart from the masses and casts them as a threat to society and the nation intellectually, socially, and politically.
Don’t think that such expressive terms are the singular domain of the Nazis. I’ve been the subject of dehumanizing language as have other Christians that is reminiscent of the Nazis and their enablers. Here are some of the ones I’ve received in 2008 from someone who claims to use “reason” and “logic” in his arguments against Christianity. See if any of them sound familiar:
Squeal louder you fat bitch.
You look just like a hog fat boy! Gimme a squeal piggy piggy.
Your writers . . . are f**king retards.
Crawl back under your rock of ass holiness.
You are retards and stupid.
You are an uneducated superstitious moron.
You [are] lying bastards.
You’re nothing but a pimple on the a** of the world and I’m just the man to squeeze it till it pops.
There is more vile stuff that I cannot put into print. This type of language is becoming a growing trend, from Christopher Hitchens and Kathy Griffin to Bill Maher and Howard Stern. Here’s a gem from Roseanne Barr:
You know what else I can’t stand, is them [sic] people that are anti-abortion. F**k them. I hate them. They’re horrible. They’re hideous people. They’re ugly, old, geeky, hideous men. . . . They just don’t want nobody [sic] to have an abortion ’cause they want you to keep spitting out kids so they can f*****g molest them.
The final tactic is to disenfranchise the opposition by keeping them from making a living or holding positions of authority in government, law, and education. The Communists understood the strategic necessity of policing every open gate to the institutions where ideas can get out to the masses without the sanction of the State. Leon Trotsky stated the following in 1936: “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” If a person does not follow the Party line, he cannot get a Party job. As government increases its power and reach, there will be more government jobs that Christians will not be permitted to hold if religious ideology becomes a prerequisite for employment.
Guillermo Gonzalez, who received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington and did his post-doctoral research at the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Washington, received fellowships, grants, and awards from NASA, the University of Washington, Sigma XI, and the National Science Foundation, authored nearly 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and has had his work has been cited over 1500 times in the scientific literature, was denied tenure (also see here and here) by Iowa State University because he had the audacity as a scientist to question naturalistic evolution. He is not alone.
• University of Idaho president Timothy White, issued an edict recently proclaiming that it is now “inappropriate” for anyone to teach “views that differ from evolution” in any “life, earth, and physical science courses.
• Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings, III, delivered a polemic speech denouncing intelligent design and scientists and scholars researching the theory.
• Chemistry professor Nancy Bryson lost her job at a state university after she gave a lecture on scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory to a group of honors students.
• Three days before graduate student Bryan Leonard’s dissertation defense was to take place Darwinist professors at Ohio State University accused Leonard of “unethical human-subject experimentation” because he taught students about scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory.
• High school teacher Roger DeHart was driven from his public school simply because he wanted his students to learn about both sides of the scientific debate over Darwinian evolution.
• Biology professor P.Z. Myers at the University of Minnesota, for example, recently wrote this about anyone supporting intelligent design or even just questioning modern evolutionary theory: “Our only problem is that we aren’t martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.”
Jerry Bergman chronicles the decades-long trend in his 1984 book book The Criterion and his recently published Slaugher of the Dissidents (2008) as have others.
The State Bar of Arizona is considering whether it will require new attorneys to swear that they will not let their views on sexual orientation influence the way they provide legal services. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University’s Law School, contends “that this is a major threat to the practice of law. This is an attempt to literally license those out of business and to revoke the license of those who, in fact, have traditional moral values.”
There is precedence for such bullying tactics. Under the leadership of the Third Reich “seven subchambers were established to guide and control every sphere of cultural life: the Reich chambers of fine arts, music, the theater, literature, the press, radio and the films. All persons engaged in these fields were obligated to join their respective chambers, whose decisions and directives had the validity of law. Among other powers, the chambers could expel—or refuse to accept—members for ‘political unreliability,’ which meant that those who were even lukewarm about National Socialism could be, and usually were, excluded from practicing their profession or art and thus deprived of a livelihood.”
Of course, Jews were especially singled out for persecution. “The Jew conspicuously lacks understanding of the truth . . . being in this respect in contrast to the Aryan research scientist with his careful and serious will to truth.” Boy does this sound familiar.
Tyranny shows its ugly face in different ways. Few people expected or foresaw what National Socialism would bring. There is no way to predict what will happen if the God-haters get their way in America.
1 Leon Trotsky, “Whither the Soviet Union?“ in The Revolution Betrayed.
2 John Sack, An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Agaisnt Germans in 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1993), xi.
3 Werner May, Deutscher National-Katechismus [The German National Catechism], 2nd ed. (Breslau: Verlag von Heinrich Handel, 1934), 22-26.
4 William Brennan, “The Language of the Culture of Death: When Word Games Take Lives,” 1.
5 William Brennan, Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1995), 11–12.
6 Roseanne Barr, HBO Comedy Hour (June 20, 1992). Quoted in TV, etc. (July 1992), 3. Quoted in D. James Kennedy with Jerry Newcombe, The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: The Attack on Christianity and What You Need to Know to Combat It (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 88.
7 Jerry Bergman, The Criterion: Religious Discrimination in America (Richfield, MN: Onesimus Publishers, 1984).
8 A. E. Wilder-Smith, The Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory: Information, Sources and Structures (Costa Mesa, CA: TWFP Publishers, 1987), iii-iv.
9 William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 241–242.
10 Quoted in Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 251..5