Daniel Jonah Goldhagen: Peddler of Hate
Younger readers may not remember the name Daniel Jonah Goldhagen because he first came to our attention back in 1996 when his blistering first book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, appeared. That heavily hyped book wanted to take the blame for the Holocaust off Hitler and his lieutenants and put it where Goldhagen felt it belonged: on ALL Germans. They loved killing Jews in the Holocaust, Goldhagen argued. Being Christian and all, they had internalized virulent “eliminationist anti-Semitism.”
Naturally, the New York Times adored the book (it spent twenty-five weeks on their Best Seller list), and it was translated into at least fifteen languages.
Across the Big Pond, it sparked the “Goldhagen Debate” in Germany. Defeated in war in 1945, and more thoroughly defeated in spirit ever since, the German nation lauded Goldhagen’s assault on them. A prestigious prize was given: “Because of the penetrating quality and the moral power of his presentation, Daniel Goldhagen has greatly stirred the consciousness of the German public.”
Not all informed readers were as thrilled. Professor Albert Lindemann, for one, wrote in Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (Cambridge U. Press 1997) that treatments of the Holocaust by those such as Goldhagen “lack penetration in striking ways. A large number might best be described as cries of pain or expressions of indignation rather than efforts to understand.” Further, he called the book “questionable and simplistic; [Goldhagen] typically ignores, or is ignorant of, evidence that contradicts his by no means original reading of German history.” In sum, Goldhagen’s thesis about pan-German responsibility for the Holocaust “might be termed a twentieth-century psogos, a tirade that is motivated by goals other than the impartial search for truth.”
Well, that’s putting it more nicely than I would, but then Lindemann was writing a year after Goldhagen’s first book, while I have the advantage of a dozen more years to draw on. By 2002, Goldhagen had cast his net more widely in his next work, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair. One reviewer for National Review, called A Moral Reckoning “a 352-page exercise in intellectual bad manners” and “a spree of intellectual wilding.” This was part of the genre of anti-Catholic books that were all the rage during that period, prompting Philip Jenkins to pen The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice.
Now comes Professor Goldhagen’s latest book, Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. And what a doozy it is. I read the review of it in the New York Times Book Review. Reviewer James Traub thought it was swell.
To my surprise, another review of it turned up in The National Interest. The title of the review, “The Willing Misinterpreter,” captures the tone of the review. Though reviewer David Rieff is a fellow Jew (his mother was Susan Sontag, of blessed memory), he tears apart Goldhagen’s heated prose, beginning by labeling him an “amateur historian.”
As I noted, Goldhagen has widened his net in hunting bad guys, as Rieff picks up on: “Worse Than War is, depending on your point of view, either the logical conclusion of the path Goldhagen has been taking for the past fifteen years or its reductio ad absurdum.” Acknowledging Goldhagen’s families’ history, Rieff still states that Goldhagen’s views “are either willfully naïve or idiotic.” Tracing the bombastic style Goldhagen employs to Goldhagen’s high regard for . . . Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Rieff concludes that “The man really does give self-love a bad name.”
In addition to the differences in assessments of the worth of Worse Than War, I noticed one other important difference between the Times piece and that in The National Interest: The former ignores Jewish identity and Israel, while Rieff twice notes Goldhagen’s powerful pro-Israel orientation. This prompts me to unpack the review in the Times.
To do this, however, allow me a short digression. Earlier this year, I was musing over the question of whether Jews ever feel guilt or remorse when they blatantly insult, injure or kill goyim. I had to conclude, based on my research and observations, that the answer was no. Invariably, they possess mental traits that allow them to project their guilty behavior onto the actual victim, and in turn conceive of themselves as the victims. (Have a look at Chapter 8 of Kevin MacDonald’s Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism, which deals with the phenomenon of Jewish self-deception.)
No sooner had I reached this conclusion than E. Michael Jones in his magazine Culture Wars called my views into question. In the April issue, he published his essay “Jewish Monsters from the Jewish Id.” The essay was partially based on his 2000 book Monsters from the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film. The book discussed how the sexual liberation crowd “tried to drive religious and moral nature out with a pitchfork, but found that nature only returned through the back door, in the form of a monster.” In other words, as one review summarized with respect to sexual license and its attendant abortion problem, “Horror, says Jones, comes from a guilty conscience that won’t admit that it’s done anything wrong — and horror stories reveal the true nature of that guilt again and again.”
Jones combined this with his remarkable 2008 book The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History to argue that the 2009 film The Unborn “is about Jewish guilt over abortion manifesting itself as fetal monsters.”
Jones’ review is too long to describe here, but let me say I found his argument compelling. Let me just offer this one passage because it informs what follows on Goldhagen. The crucial Jewish role in getting abortion legalized in America, Jones argues, plus the high rates at which Jews abort their own children,
explains the need to bring up Auschwitz, because the function of the holocaust is to absolve all Jews from any guilt they may have incurred by violating the moral law. Auschwitz is the totem which calms the troubled Jewish conscience by assuring the Jew that he is the eternal victim, and, as such, incapable of incurring guilt as the perpetrator of some immoral act like, say, killing a fellow Jew in the womb of his mother.
More pertinently yet, Jones sees that last December’s Israeli massacre of innocent Palestinian women and children also inevitably creates subconscious Jewish guilt. Which brings me back to Goldhagen and the review of his book in the New York Times.
The Times review never mentions Israel or its behavior. Goldhagen is writing about all manner of genocides and man’s inhumanity to man, but the review is silent on one of the most prominent ongoing examples in the world: that of the Israelis against the Palestinians (see “For Whom the Gaza Bell Tolls,” Part 1 and Part 2.) Early chapters in Worse Than War have titles such as “Our Age’s Slaughters” and “Varieties of Eliminationist Assault,” so I have to wonder if he admits to what Israel is doing and has done.
More broadly, I find it highly unlikely that Goldhagen will highlight the prominent Jewish role in the Communist takeover of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, resulting in tens of millions of deaths of non-Jews. Perhaps readers familiar with this new book can help me.
Based on the two reviews I’ve discussed, however, as well as Goldhagen’s past works, I’d wager that he ignores, downplays, or denies Jewish guilt in any number of mass slaughters over the ages. If so, I can proffer this hypothesis: A Jewish writer like Goldhagen is projecting Jewish guilt for Jewish behavior onto the groups he writes about. More to the point, Goldhagen himself is dealing with the guilt engendered by concrete Jewish behavior, but is repressing it. As we all know, what is repressed must come out somewhere.
The result in Goldhagen’s case is a series of increasingly obsessive books, where the target group grows larger and larger. Meanwhile, because Goldhagen has mis-identified the source of his rage, his rage only grows.
So what else might be going on in the mind of Goldhagen, one of the most privileged Americans of his generation? As far as I can tell, no one has ever touched or threatened a hair on his head. He was born in Massachusetts and raised as the son of a Harvard professor (who survived the Holocaust). In turn, Daniel attended Harvard from B.A. through Ph.D. and then taught there for some years. What might account for his elevated level of what can only be termed hate?
Getting back to my introductory discussion on this “Jewish virtue” of hate — yes, it was so identified in an infamous essay in First Things, “The virtue of hate” where the Jewish rabbi and then Yale Divinity School student admitted that a nun who realized that “hatred is in the Jewish religion” was right. As most of us already know, “Hebrew prophets and judges believed ardently in the ‘virtue of hate.’” With a passion. I like that. And the rabbi has no problem acknowledging that “many Jews, in my own experience, have continued to despise religions Christians.” Bottom line: “When hate is appropriate, then it is not only virtuous, but essential for Jewish well-being.”
It is a common Jewish personality trait that we cannot ignore because so many Jews direct so much hatred toward so many of us non-Jews. Worse, they have the power to turn that hatred into real harm (and to subsequently protect themselves from their actions).
As just another taste of this process, peruse Hervé Ryssen’s characterization of Jewish intellectuals’ contempt for non-Jews in this piece:
It is not enough for these intellectuals to talk nonsense, to lull us with “human rights,” to bind us with repressive laws, and to inject us with alien cultural poisons. They also have to pour into our ears their contempt for our old cultures. But this contempt does not seem to fully satisfy their thirst for revenge. They must also insult us and spit in our faces: “ignoramuses, xenophobes, paranoiacs, morons, lunatics, etc.” . . .
And I will not recount the innumerable films in which the cosmopolitan scriptwriters take their revenge against Christian civilization and the white man in general. It seems obvious to me, regarding all this logorrhea, that these people hate us. It could not be any more obvious if they wore flashing neon signs on their heads.
Let me close with this point: Goldhagen writes that “hundreds of millions of people are at risk of becoming the victims of genocide and related violence.” God help us if Goldhagen is projecting repressed Jewish desires and intentions, for given the current Jewish stranglehold over America, they could indeed induce mass slaughter. We have seen the process at work in Russia, so we know many of the details, accentuated by the tremendous death toll of non-Jews. Recall that “anyone who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Cheka stood a very good chance of finding himself confronted with and possibly shot by a Jewish investigator.”
Tomislav Sunic expounded on this parallel between Soviet Russia and today’s America in Homo americanus:: Child of the Postmodern Age. In that book, he saw dark clouds on the horizon for any group in America that might be targeted: “Thus, in order for the proper functioning of future Americanized society, the removal of millions of surplus citizens must become a social and possibly also an ecological necessity.” Kevin MacDonald, in the book’s Foreword, identified what sectors might be targeted “and therefore worthy of mass murder by the American counterparts of the Jewish elite in the Soviet Union—the ones who journeyed to Ellis Island instead of Moscow.” They are the European-derived Whites populating vast areas of the American nation, particularly in the so-called “red states.”
Remember, ideas have consequences. And the good Professor Goldhagen seems to have a fixation on genocide. That worries me, given that he is plugged into the ruling circles of the United States.
But in some distant future, there might be hope. As evidenced by his own books, Goldhagen opts to collectively blame Germans, to collectively blame Catholics, to collectively blame many other groups for their trespasses. What if Jews were ever to collectively repent for their considerable trespasses against others these last three to four millennia? To repent for their financial, political, and most of all lethal crimes against humanity? Maybe then the projection and repression might stop, and the world would become a far better place.
From The Occidental Observer, December 18, 2009