Live CWH Show Thursday (8/1/13) 9:30pm-11pm To Debate The Holocaust Memorial Controversy

UPDATE: The show advertised throughout this post has now happened, so you can watch it below and/or read the transcript by going here:

Or watch this other version (they’re identical) if that one doesn’t work for you.

There were a few last minute changes to the line up as Robby Bensinger, Heina Dadhaboy, Mark Hatcher, and Miri Mogilevsky did not make it. Russell Glasser of The Atheist Experience and Trever Boeckmann, who wrote an article critically analyzing Freedom From Religion Foundation’s overall legal strategy in the spring appeared instead. Below is the original post advertising this event.

Thursday night, August 1, from 9:30pm-11pm, The Camels With Hammers Show returns for the first episode of season 2 with a diverse panel of secularist activists to civilly and vigorously discuss and debate any and all controversial issues related to Ohio’s plans to erect a monument prominently using the Star of David to memorialize victims of the Holocaust on the grounds of the state legislature and the decisions of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists to publicly oppose this. The panel discussion will take place Google On Air. There should be a livestreaming embed of the video on the event page, also on my YouTube channel, and, assuming I can get it to work, in a blog post streaming live on Camels With Hammers as the show goes on. Video will be available afterwards in the same blog post created to stream the show live.

I reached out three different ways to the Freedom From Religion Foundation to see if they will send a representative to participate but have not heard from them yet. But American Atheists agreed to send Dave Muscato and possibly another person. The rest of the people who have committed to participate are, in alphabetical order, student activist and blogger at Nothing is Mere Robby Bensinger, Harvard Humanist and blogger at Temple of the Future James Croft, Ex-Muslim and Skepchick blogger Heina Dadabhoy, Center For Inquiry’s Director for the Office of Public Policy Michael De Dora, Secular Coalition For America Pennsylvania Co-Chair and member of the board of directors for Pennsylvania Non-Believers Brian Fields, African Americans for Humanism Advisory Committee member, CFO of Black Atheists of America, and founder of the Howard University Secular Student Alliance Mark Hatcher, skeptic at “Independent Investigations Group” and blogger at The Odds Must Be Crazy Wendy Hughes, blogger at The Merely Real and former president of the University of Chicago Secular Student Alliance Chana Messinger, blogger at Brute Reason Miri Mogilevsky, Ask an Atheist producer Sam Mulvey, skeptic and small business owner Mallorie Nasrallah, member of the St. Cloud State Secular Student Alliance, bisexual activist, and blogger at Eponymous Fliponymous and The Huffington Post Patrick RichardsFink, and the Development Director at the Secular Student Alliance and lawyer Neil Wehneman.

The show will last from 9:30pm until around 11pm. We will have a mostly freewheeling conversation that I will moderate using provocative questions that often don’t hide my own positions. Each participant will be limited as to how much of the show they can take up, with a few people allotted more time than others. For example, any representatives from AA or FFRF will receive more time than typical guests since they can authoritatively speak for organizations directly under scrutiny. People with particular legal expertise will be given extra priority as well. And I will balance time allotments so that both critics and defenders of FFRF’s letter opposing the memorial get roughly equal time overall. I’ll let each individual know in advance on the night of the show how much time they’ll be afforded. Once someone’s used up the time allotted them, they’ll swap out and someone fresh who has not yet had the chance to be on video will swap into the discussion. I have arranged a time keeper to manage this process.

Please plan to tune in and spread the word in your corner of the atheist, secularist, skeptics, humanist, public policy, and legal community. For a round up of links from various sources about the issues under discussion, see this post.

For previous episodes of The Camels With Hammers Show and a nearly full archive of my video and audio appearances, see The Camels With Hammers audiovisual page.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Liralen

    Good luck with this. I’ve been a bit amused over the number of comments that confuse their dislike of the memorial for whatever reason with your argument that this not a First Amendment issue. Maybe you should keep score using a pocket full of beans and lay one out each time someone says “Jews weren’t the only victims” or anything else irrelevant to your point.

    • Feminerd

      I think there’s two issues that are getting mixed up.

      1) The memorial only honors the Jewish victims. I keep trying to decide how I feel about that (very mixed feelings), but it’s definitely not a constitutional issue. I can see why people might be upset by the inclusion of only half the victims, but the Holocaust was also uniquely targeted at and vicious towards Jews. 67% of all the Jews in Europe died; in some countries such as Poland, the death rate was 90%. No other population suffered nearly so much. So, again, I can see both sides and I don’t know where I come down on this.

      2) The constitutional issue. I don’t think there is one, but it’s in a gray area to have a religious symbol, even though it’s also an ethnic/tribal/nation symbol, paid for by public money and set on public land. So even though I don’t think there is a winning lawsuit to be had, I understand why the FFRF is worried about the precedent set by having a religious symbol, any religious symbol, placed on public land for any reason.

      The monument’s design is gorgeous. I wish it could be set on private land somewhere, though, which would solve all this.

    • John Kruger

      I think most people think these two issues are related in that if the Jewish people get uneven recognition, that would inherently be “respecting an establishment of religion” by the government, making it a constitutional issue. I do not really agree with that line of reasoning though.

      I still have difficulty seeing exactly how the Jewish faith really benefits from a memorial of what is fairly well known history. It is not like the government should be unable to display historical facts in various ways just because they are favorable or unfavorable to a particular religion. Somehow the irony of refusing a memorial reminding us of the dangers of church and state entanglement being opposed on grounds of church and state entanglement remains lost on a lot of the memorials detractors.

    • 3lemenope

      Somehow the irony of refusing a memorial reminding us of the dangers of church and state entanglement being opposed on grounds of church and state entanglement remains lost on a lot of the memorials detractors.

      This warrants some expansion, because it’s not immediately obvious to me how the Holocaust was indicative of the “dangers of church and state entanglement”. As has been exhaustively belabored by pretty much everyone (really, the only point that everyone seems to agree upon), the Nazis targeted the Jews primarily as an ethnic group. Religion didn’t have much to do with anything.

      I still have difficulty seeing exactly how the Jewish faith really benefits from a memorial of what is fairly well known history.

      Er, the same benefits that any group gets from having an element of their history and identity literally carved in stone: Publicity, longevity and veneration. Long after the people who conceived of the memorial and their detractors have passed away, chances are decent the memorial itself will remain. Its existence at that point says “these people are worth enough to us* to try to make the telling of an event that happened to them as permanent as we know how” in so many words, more even than any particular message about historical events that at that point will have been more than a century distant and all witnesses thereto will have passed away.

      * ‘Us’ is made problematic precisely because when the government acts, it does so with the imprimatur of acting on behalf of everyone.

    • John Kruger

      It seems pretty straightforward that the government of Germany was targeting a religion, even if effectively it was mostly ethnic in execution. The 1st amendment would expressly prohibit things like forcing specific religious groups to wear identifying symbols or forced relocation on the basis of religious identity, even if there were ethnic overlaps. A fascist government executing that kind of genocide could not possibly have anything close to the first amendment in its laws.

      The link between remembrance and benefit really seems pretty weak. I would hope that any people would be worth enough to bear remembering in a permanent way if their demise was as important a historical lesson as the holocaust. Memorializing history accurately has quite a bit of secular value, and how the events are interpreted are not set in stone. Should we not make efforts to memorialize the Trail of Tears? Does such a story really constitute an unfair endorsement of Native Americans?

      It would be a very good idea, I think, to include other symbols of other groups that were impacted by Nazi genocide. Even so, focusing on a particular group does not inherently mean endorsement. I would be surprised if the suggestion of including other symbols met with firm resistance, but focusing on one particular issue never really demands covering every facet of that issue every time it is brought up. That is a lot like demanding female gender equality always be talked about simultaneously with male gender inequality issues. We can address things one at a time without being overly preferential.

  • Liralen

    Woot! I was able to post, so now I’ll try a link you might enjoy that’s related to this topic: