Dave Silverman Appears on FOX News to Debate Jewish Star on Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial

Last week, I wrote about a new Holocaust memorial that will soon go up on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse:

Artist Daniel Libeskind’s design for the Holocaust Memorial (via Libeskind)

The design features the story of an Auschwitz survivor told on two giant tablets… with a Star of David in the negative space between them.

While the monument will be paid for mostly through private donations, the state is kicking in about $300,000 for the preparation of the site.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says that, while we should certainly honor the victims of the Holocaust, this particular design constitutes a promotion of religion:

… including the Star of David so prominently in the planned Memorial is exclusionary, ignoring the sacrifices made by the many other groups targeted by the Nazis during World War II. A reasonable observer could conclude that the government only cares about the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, not Christian, nonreligious, or other non-Jewish victims.

This afternoon, American Atheists’ David Silverman appeared on FOX News to defend FFRF’s position:

I thought he did a really nice job at the beginning (perhaps moreso than in the second half of the interview), but he made it very clear that this is just a matter of principle. There’s no problem with a Holocaust memorial on public property. In fact, the memorial designs created by the runners-up were equally beautiful and they didn’t include a Jewish star.

And that’s all this is about: The Star of David. Not the memorial itself.

(There may be some pushback with Silverman’s claim that the Holocaust wasn’t *just* about targeting Jews, but the fact remains that Jews weren’t the only victims of the Holocaust.)

Daniel Fincke is an atheist who is appalled that there is opposition to this memorial:

In [opposing this memorial, FFRF and Silverman] show an outright offensive [inability] to understand the multivalence of symbols and their different meanings in different contexts and in the process conflate the affirmation of the Jewish people’s dignity, endurance, and victory over one of the world’s most monstrous and horrific attempts at utter genocide with a government endorsement of the Jewish religion or religion in general is unbelievably historically and culturally ignorant.

… This knee jerk response from atheists at any religious symbol whatsoever and reduction of all religious expression to its worst forms is one of the places that atheists fail as critical thinkers the most humiliatingly.

I want to repudiate this blind reactionary atheism in this instance with no qualification.

Fincke no doubt represents many atheists with his stance.

I know a lot of you see this as a petty issue not to be fought over, but I strongly believe that we can’t let even the little “harmless” things like this slide. If we let it go, religious groups will eventually try to do something similar somewhere else — and they’ll argue that we had no problem with a Jewish memorial in Ohio, so why would we have a problem with this other religious memorial?

Indeed, most atheists seem to have no problem fighting back against a veterans’ memorial with lots of Christian crosses on it. And FFRF’s argument is that the Holocaust memorial is doing something along those same lines.

To be clear: No atheist group is opposing the memorial nor do they want to dismiss or belittle any of the Jewish victims. As Silverman said in the interview, he would have had no problem if the city selected with of the other two designs.

Personally, I like that FFRF isn’t ignoring this issue, even if people will interpret (and spin) it the wrong way.

By the way, you may have wondered why Silverman was doing the interview given that he has no formal connection to FFRF. He told me it was because he lives close to New York City and FOX wanted someone who could be in the studio.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    It’s the first time I’ve seen her, but I found the Fox person in this to be surprisingly reasonable.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Most newscasters, even ones on Fox, are just people trying to find work and get ahead. Even most of the caricaturish talking heads sound normal until you listen for a while. You can’t go full-on jibber-jabber right off the bat. It’s like sermonizing; you have to get the audience’s blood pumping before you start speaking in tongues.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    This one has the atheist community even more divided than the 9/11 steel beam that some say is a cross. AA posted about this earlier on facebook and a lot of people disagree with them.

  • Matt

    I frankly find Silverman more annoying every time I hear him talk.

    • Scott Michalski

      Is it because he exploits an unconstitutional action? Damn you Dave! Trying to keep church and state separate!

      • Matt

        More like he’s a media whore who has nothing interesting to say.

        • CottonBlimp

          That kind of complaint is extremely easy to say and impossible to refute, and just about always grounded in an unmentioned bias.

          You should probably stick to actually falsifiable complaints or refrain from slagging off someone who’s slagged off enough as it is.

  • ragingrev

    I support Dan Finke’s position.

    I think Silverman is far too committed to the cause of fighting an enemy
    he perceives to be there that he is now becoming a caricature of
    himself…much like the Christians he fights against so often. I think
    that AA and FRFF are beginning to make enemies, much like Christianity
    has been doing for years, so that they can have an excuse to exist and
    raise funds – I’ve always feared this is what the movement would become.

    How much better could we be if we were to fulfill the needs of
    humanity by doing what religion fails to do: Feed the hungry, educate
    the ignorant, and cloth the naked. Were these the causes that we spent
    our efforts on rather than lawsuit after lawsuit I suspect that we’d get what we want simply out of respect than out of forcefulness.

    • C Peterson

      How much better could we be if we were to fulfill the needs of humanity by doing what religion fails to do…

      That’s fine, but who is this mysterious “we” you are referring to? There is no common philosophy, no common community, no common social structure shared by those who simply disbelieve in gods. And whether you agree or disagree with the arguments being made in this case- and there are good arguments to be made by both sides- the fact is that FFRF is primarily an organization that fights for secularism, for state/church separation. And that’s largely where their resources go. If that makes enemies, so be it.

      I don’t know what AA is for; for all I care, they can go down the tubes. But I’d be just as unhappy if they turned into some organization that fed the hungry or educated the ignorant.

      • http://www.secularview.com/ Dirty_Nerdy

        I understand your objections to “movement atheism,” what I don’t get is why you would be unhappy if AA turned into an organization that fed the hungry and educated people. Or maybe I’m reading your comment wrong?

        • C Peterson

          I would not be unhappy if they removed the word “atheist” from their name. But I am strongly opposed to any movements or organizations that conflate atheism with any social or political viewpoints at all, other than the view that atheists should not be discriminated against. If AA marketed themselves as a humanist organization, for instance, that would be just fine.

          • Franklin Bacon

            American Atheists is NOT a humanist organization. It generally refuses to conflate atheism with quasi-religious dogmatism as has been codified in humanist groups.

          • CottonBlimp

            Do you feel this way about other groups representing minorities, like the HRC or the NAACP? There’s no common philosophy across all gays or blacks, just common culture developing between associating individuals, exactly like with atheists (except that the atheist communities are more recent and more technological).

            • C Peterson

              I feel that way about any organization that attempts to give the impression that they speak for everybody in some class. That does not apply to either the HRC or the NAACP. In addition, both of these organizations have a charter to actually take action on behalf of the groups they support. AA does not, because outside of challenging discrimination, there is no action commonly supported by most atheists. Atheism carries no particular belief system along with it.

              • CottonBlimp

                The HRC openly claims to speak on behalf of LGBT Americans, and many LGBT wish they didn’t, because the HRC actively works to define gay culture as predominantly white, male, and middle class.

                I’m a member of the Atheists group on Kiva (the microloan site). I don’t do this because I think atheism advocates helping developing economies. I do it because atheism is an aspect of my identity, I relate to other people with a similar identity, and when we gather together, for any reason, we have the ability to do good in the world and that oughtn’t be squandered for the sake of pedantry.

      • ragingrev

        FFRF and AA represent a movement and a philosophy of sorts, the “New Atheism” if you will…I don’t need you to define what atheism is for me…I’m well aware – but as someone who has donated to the FFRF and to AA in the past and as someone who shares the label of atheist and atheist activist with these organizations I don’t care to see those labels used for such petty nonsense as this.

        The fact is that there is a common ideology among many of us – that ideology is why people like Dan, Hemant, myself, and many others work toward a world where religion has a lessened impact on the lives of people who choose to live without it. That is who I mean by “we”.

        Why is there always that guy out for internet points that likes to point out that there is no philosophy binding us together?

        • C Peterson

          Because there is no philosophy binding atheists together, and to suggest otherwise hurts atheists.

          • ragingrev

            But I’m not laying claim to any sort of philosophy that does bind us together (as atheists, merely) – and I’ve always been clear about that fact (I don’t expect you to know that about me, of course). If anything, I’m laying claim to what might be a better philosophy in regards to the way an organization achieves efficacy.

            We – or those of us that do ascribe to a sort of movement – might achieve the goals (that bind us together as a movement) if we were to do what the church fails to do rather than become precisely what they are: Hypersensitive reactionaries.

            • Scott Michalski

              Is a “new” atheist an atheist that speaks up when a religious person/institution tries to push their ideology onto others or in the public square, instead of keeping their mouths shut? If so, thank goodness there’s a lot more of these “new” atheists.

              • C Peterson

                I’d say that for the most part, a “new atheist” is a different (and poor) alternate for “anti-religionist”.

              • ragingrev

                I believe that is the common definition.

    • DougI

      It is possible to defend the Constitution and care for the less fortunate at the same time. There’s no need to let taxpayer funded religious promotion go wild at the sake of your pet causes.

  • http://www.secularview.com/ Dirty_Nerdy

    I don’t think this is a violation of church and state at all. The Star of David is more than a mere religious symbol.

    • ragingrev

      Silverman is showing his religious ignorance here, unsurprising really.

      • TCC

        Yeah, what would Silverman know about Jewish religious symbols?

        • ragingrev

          Very little, it seems.

    • DougI

      So if they put a Christian cross up there you’d be cool with that too?

  • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

    Thank you for including a bit of my dissent Hemant.

    For Silverman’s case that the state is sending a message that Judaism is especially important with the relative imbalance of Jewish symbols to those representing other groups to make sense as an establishment issue you would really need to believe that Jewish symbols are highlighted because they are religious and not because the Star of the David was a paradigmatic symbol of Hitler’s marking people for genocide by making Jews wear it.

    Even to the extent that the memorial is lopsided in favoring Jews over other groups singled out for extermination, it is not lopsided in favor of Judaism.

    • C Peterson

      I think it would be a mistake to see a Star of David as a symbol solely of Judaism. It is obviously also a symbol of ethnic or cultural Jews, as well as of the secular state of Israel. Like many symbols, it has multiple interpretations.

      I don’t think this memorial, as planned, represents any First Amendment violation. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think that the wisest move would be to modify the design a bit and simply remove the source of controversy. The strength of the memorial doesn’t rest on that one symbol.

      • J Allen

        Is there any other symbol that better represents the Jewish religion?

        Is Israel a secular state? You can’t even divorce without Rabbi approval.

        If symbols can’t be correlated to religions, who is to say that the 10 commandments can’t also be unreligious if interpreted subjectively. The government has to make a reasonable stand, and I think the star crosses the line, as much as I appreciate the memorial.

        • C Peterson

          The fact that the symbol represents the Jewish religion in no way means it doesn’t at the same time represent the Jewish people.

          I didn’t say that symbols can’t be correlated to religions. I said that not all symbols with religious meaning are exclusively associated with religions.

          And yes, I’d say that Israel is substantially a secular state.

          • keddaw

            The conflation of Judaism and Israel means that anyone being critical (justified or not) of the policies of the Israeli government are automatically branded anti-Semitic. It’s a neat trick. Muslims are getting in on the same game with some BS about Islamophobia but it’s not nearly as effective as having a whole state. Maybe Catholics could pull the same trick using the Vatican…

        • Son Of Goldstein

          This has nothing to do with the State of Israel. Israel did not exist during the Holocaust, and never would have if the Nazis had won.

          • Randay

            That’s right, the British governed Palestine. After the war Jewish terrorists discouraged the Brits and created their racist theocratic state. Remember the bombing of the King David Hotel and the assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte? Done by Jewish terrorists including later PM’s like Begin and Shamir. There is even a museum in Israel dedicated to their terrorism.

        • Anat

          Re: Israel: Actually you can divorce without a rabbi’s approval – there are people who divorce in a sharia court, there are people who divorce in what passes for the Christian equivalent, and I definitely know of a couple who had a secular divorce through the secular court system. The catch is that a religious marriage can only be undone in a court of the same religious denomination, and it is very hard (though not impossible) to form a secular marriage in Israel.

          While Israel does not separate religion and state it isn’t a halakha state. You can buy a cheeseburger in some places, you can get pork in some others, many businesses are open on shabbat. (But many aren’t, and many stores will not stock non-kosher ingredients.)

          • Randay

            I dislike animal “rights” people, but if they were truely concerned about animal welfare, they would campaign against kosher and halal.

      • Kodie

        I think it does. I like it way better than the other two proposals aesthetically, and even the star does pull me emotionally because it is an absent space. Without it, that proposal fails. I don’t know another idea, because I tend to agree with Silverman here. When I see the Star of David, I only think of Jewish people. I don’t think of a symbol used to mark undesirables by a genocider despite their actual religious beliefs. When I think of a Holocaust victim memorial, I want it to be inclusive of all the victims and not leave them forgotten. To me, that is more important than my feelings about a public endorsement of a religious symbol. I actually think … I’m not opposed to money being spent on the monument with the symbol as much as I am that it blots out, as history has blotted out, millions of other victims than Jews. I would like history to recognize and educate the public about all the victims.

        • C Peterson

          Like you, I see the symbol first as one of the Jewish people, not the Jewish religion. That’s probably because of the time I’ve spent in Israel, and because most of my Jewish friends are atheists, but still see the Star of David as representing them. It is very much a secular symbol as well as a religious one, and has been used that way for at least a couple of hundred years.

          As I noted in the previous discussion about this memorial, it is unclear to me who it is intended to commemorate. I think the Holocaust as an assault on Jews is quite separate from the wider genocide carried out by the Germans. Either one can rightfully be memorialized, and both have been. If this memorial is for the Jewish Holocaust, the Star of David is a very appropriate symbol. If it is for all of the victims of the Nazi genocide, only about half of whom were Jews, I think a better symbol could be found.

    • Brian

      the Star of David was not the only symbol people were forced to wear in the Holocaust, gays had to wear pink triangles, criminals wore inverted green triangles, political prisoners wore red triangles, gypsies and black people wore brown triangles, and Jehovah’s Witnesses had to wear purple triangles.

      By using JUST the Star of David as a representation of the victims of the Holocaust does a great disservice to the millions of other victims. But, if this memorial was privately funded and placed on private land, then they could use any symbol they wished.

      • Son Of Goldstein

        The Holocaust itself was indeed about wiping Jews off the face of the earth. This farce is bordering on Holocaust Denial.

        • Jim Olson

          No it is not. and if you say it once more you will become irrelevant.

        • DougI

          The Nazis had a list of undesirables they wanted to remove from the planet, Jews were on that list with many others. To deny that is bordering on Holocaust Denial.

        • El Bastardo

          Nope, it was about wiping out those that were considered by the Nazi’s to be inferior. The Jews were just one group of many,. Didn’t you actually watch the clip?

        • CottonBlimp

          Why is it never considered “Holocaust Denial” to deny the presence of gays, gypsies, or other hated minorities in the death camps?

          • Randay

            Not to mention millions of Soviet war prisoners and civilians that were killed by Hitler. Let’s have a memorial with the hammer and sickle. After all, it was the Soviets who won the war against Hitler.

            • CottonBlimp

              Haha! Ohhh, A+ suggestion.

              It does really irritate me to see American and British nationalism take exclusive credit for winning WWII.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

        Yes, this. The Jewish people were the primary victims of the Nazis, but many other kinds of people were targeted for genocide as well. A public Holocaust memorial should, at the very least, acknowledge all the victims and not just a subset of them.

      • Jim Olson

        Facts! they are so inconvenient when they get in the way of my argument.

      • AxeGrrl

        You nailed it, Brian :)

        I remember as a kid, knowing the number “6 million” in association with the Holocaust. 6 million, 6 million……

        then, when I got to high school and discovered that the total number of people wiped out by the Nazis was about twice that, I was shocked. And a little angry and perturbed. Why had I never heard about the other millions?

        Why isn’t the TOTAL number of victims imprinted onto our collective consciousness?

        • WalterWhite007

          The jews have done the best job at publicity for their cause. That’s their right. You don’t hear nearly as much about the 50 million Russians or 30 million Chinese killed by their own governments.

    • double-m

      I would argue that it doesn’t matter whether the star is intended to be a national or a religious symbol. The fact remains that a government-enabled memorial honors only one single group of Holocaust victims. As a member of another ethnic group that was targeted for complete and utter extermination at the time, I find that pretty appalling. I mean, imagine a memorial for victims of slavery that showed only a Greek national symbol, because many Greeks were enslaved by the ancient Romans and the Ottomans, while making no reference whatsoever to African Americans. I think you’d find that pretty outrageous too, and for good reason.

      So yes, I think the monument can be criticized equally from both, the religious angle AND the ethnic angle.

      • El Bastardo

        Well said.

      • Rauss

        Why don’t you find it appalling that you intend for this memorial to honor only Holocaust victims as opposed to victims of all massacres?

        You’re okay with Holocaust victims having a special memorial, but you have a problem with putting any particular symbol with religious connotations on it? Smells fishy.

        It’s important to notice who is complaining, by the way- it’s not other groups who feel left out. Noticeably, no other groups complain about feeling left out or ostracized because of the star.

        Rather, the people complaining are fundamentalist atheists who have a track record of aggressively attacking displays of religious meaning in the public square.

        Something tells me they’re not in it for the equal representation…

        • WalterWhite007

          No religion in public squares. Period. It’s preposterous in 2013 to have superstition paraded as fact. The US constitution makes a clear case for separation of church and state. There is no one true god (or any provable god) or one true religion. Since they all can’t be true (and likely none are) and only one could be then it’s better if they were all treated as false as far as the public goes. What you do on your own time and property is another matter. peace

    • Rain

      Even to the extent that the memorial is lopsided in favoring Jews over other groups singled out for extermination, it is not lopsided in favor of Judaism.

      It’s probably meant to be more of a “tragedy of antisemitism” symbol than a Jewish symbol per se. If anything it is lopsided in its “tragedy of antisemitism-ism”. And then in the fine print it says something along the lines of oh by the way others were victims too. Oh, and let’s face it, it’s there for dramatic effect too. Artists just freaking love dramatic effect.

    • Randay

      “not losided in favor of Judaism”. That is a bald-faced lie. What symbol would we use for a Rwanda genocide memorial? That was Catholics killing other Catholics. No one ever mentions today Belgian King Leopold’s genocide in the Congo which was his personal property at the time. He had 12 to 20 million people killed, more than half the population. There is no memorial to that.

      At the time, some people including Mark Twain spoke out stongly against it. Today it is forgotten. What symbol should we use for that memorial?

      There should be no Holocaust memorials or museums anywhere in the U.S. unless there are memorials to these other genocides, like that of Native Americans. The last was at least the responsibility of the U.S. The others have nothing to do with the U.S.

      The Star of David is a religious and political symbol. Look it up in the Jewish Encyclopedia. The Star of David has been a religious symbol since the 12th century. It is on the Israeli flag, thus it implies support for Israeli criminal policies.

      To be kind as I can be on this issue, Fincke is being disingenuous.

    • Ullrich Fischer

      Maybe if the work was expanded with (say) stained glass various colored pink triangles to represent the other groups targeted by the Nazis, it would be ok to have it on public property. I think that might detract from its impact as art, though, so IMHO, the optimal solution would be to put it on private property.

  • Darrin Thomas Rasberry

    I just don’t get it, Hemant. A Holocaust memorial with a message that we can all agree upon, and you’re in support of dismissing it because of a visible religious symbol?

    How on Earth can you claim to be a “friendly” atheist, Hemant, when you’re actively advocating against this sort of thing even in this context? My theory is that you’re not actually friendly in the least bit whatsoever. You’ve done little on this blog to demonstrate otherwise.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Yeah, how dare he want to uphold the U.S. Constitution even when it’s an unpleasant duty? After all, we should only bother with that indescribably important document when it’s convenient* and makes everybody happy.

      Please don’t pretend that you read here except when you see a headline that you think will add to your confirmation bias.

      *Seems like something that Christians could get behind, don’t you think?

    • Brian

      The message on the memorial isnt the problem, its the endorsement of one religious symbol. Also, by endorsing just that one religion, it does a disservice to the rest of the victims of the Holocaust. Would it be ok for a 9/11 memorial to include only a Star of David to represent all of the victims of 9/11?

      They had other options, which did not include the symbol, and they decided to go with this one anyway, knowing full well that they shouldnt have (one board member resigned because of it)

      • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.McElhiney Redorblack Nigelbottom

        I think the difference is that the Jews aren’t putting this symbol out there as a “Come become one of us! This is a Jewish Nation! Bow down to Jehovah!” It was the Nazis that pushed that symbol on them, regardless of if they were practicing Jews or not. The 11 million (there is the opening for the revisionists) dead Jews that were forced to wear yellow Star of David symbols is why it is there. There was no equivalent for the gypsies and the gays and the mentally retarded or physically deformed. The symbol isn’t to recognize a religion, it’s to recognize the dead as their killer’s labeled them. While most holocaust memorials are created by Jewish organizations, the actual memorials recognize all the victims, not just the Jews. Their point of “Never Forget!” is so that it doesn’t happen again… to anyone.
        The “Final Solution” was to eliminate the “Jewish People” regardless of if someone felt they were Jewish or not. It wasn’t about religion, it was about casting a group into a role as the cause of all your own problems and everything evil and rallying everyone to destroy them.

        • Brian

          Actually, there WAS an equivalent. Gays wore pink triangles, gypsies and black people wore brown triangles, prisoners wore green, political prisoners wore red, and Jehovah Witnesses wore purple. Here’s a chart showing them:

          http://www.glbtq.com/images/entries/slideshows/symbols_nazi_symbols.jpg

          • Matt

            I see at least 6 triangles in the monument. Bases covered?

    • TCC

      Cut the “you’re not really friendly” bullshit. Even if you disagree, Hemant has been quite civil about his objections to the memorial.

  • Anna

    Really? This is what they’re complaining about? I’m very much against religious symbols on government property, but has everyone forgotten that the yellow star is what the Nazis forced Jews to wear? I don’t understand why it’s not an appropriate symbol for a Holocaust memorial. It’s certainly the most recognizable one.

    • Dave Muscato

      The Nazis also forced gay people to wear pink triangles. Why aren’t they being represented? The Romani people, handicapped people, and millions of others were also victims of the Holocaust—40% of the victims in all were not Jewish. Why are the Jews being singled out for representation? Walking past it, no one would reasonably think this is anything other than a Jewish memorial, and since it’s on government land and uses $300,000 of taxpayer money, that’s not appropriate.

      • badgerchild

        Exactly right. The monument could have highlighted all victims of the Holocaust. Instead, as it is, it highlights all Jewish victims. I’m a Jew and had family members in concentration camps. When I was a child, and they older family members talked about it, they were also divided on this score. Some did believe it was all about the Jews, while others were careful to tell me that it wasn’t. In school, I would bring this up and even teachers weren’t well informed on the issue. One teacher even told me the other victims were “irrelevant”. That’s the attitude that opponents of the memorial are trying to combat. No victims are irrelevant.

        • AxeGrrl

          Beautifully said, badgerchild.

      • LJinFLA

        Exactly the point. Thank you for stating it in terms that leave no doubt.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.McElhiney Redorblack Nigelbottom

        Ahh… there was a symbol for the gay prisoners… estimated at the high end to be 63,000. They were not slaughtered though and made up 1/2 of 1% of the prisoners. Sadly they were LEFT in prison after the Allied troops beat the Nazis because BOTH the American and Soviet controlled sections of Germany left in place the laws about being gay being a felony. Some stayed in prison for 20 more years. Glad this was brought up… here is a Wiki page documenting who was locked up and how they were identified as to why they were there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camp_badges

        • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

          I had never heard of that. That’s unbelievably tragic.

      • Jim Olson

        It really is that simple. Much as I would like to, I cannot, out of sympathy, make a special case for Jews.

      • Anna

        I was under the impression that their objection is primarily due to the fact that the Star of David is a religious symbol, not because it leaves out other groups. I think those other groups should be included, too, of course, but that’s not what the FFRF seems to be concerned with. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be treated as a potential violation of separation of church and state.

      • Kodie

        It is mostly a lack of concern for these victims. They hadn’t been represented until recently. If I learned about the Holocaust in school, it was pretty much just Jews. It was Hitler hates Jews. If I ever learned there were others, it wasn’t brought up except as a footnote, and seemingly A LOT of JUST JEWS and a handful of miscellaneous other types of people that, up until recently, nobody thought mattered that much anyway. That’s disgusting. History isn’t teaching the whole disgusting story. It was already bad enough, but it’s terrible that these people should be erased from history. I think the monument is in keeping with this oversight, not out of malice, but of ignorance, and it should not perpetuate it.

    • Randay

      “what the Nazis forced Jews to wear” What in hell does that have to do with the U.S.? Put it up in Germany, but not in the U.S. BTW, in the proposed memorial, the star is not yellow. The Holocaust® by Israel has no place in the U.S.

      • Anna

        That strikes me as an incredibly bizarre statement. Why put a Holocaust memorial in the United States? There are many Holocaust survivors and their descendants here. Are you suggesting that all memorials be confined to Germany? And you’re complaining about the color of the star? It looks to be a cut-out, so it can’t be any color at all. It’s obviously a reference to the yellow star.

        • Randay

          “There are many Holocaust survivors and their descendants here” So who cares except them? What does that have to do with anything? The U.S. had nothing to do with it. There are many Native Americans and their descendants here, but they don’t get memorials.

          Yes, all Holocaust® by Israel memorials and museums should be in Germany or maybe Poland or the Ukraine. The star is not obviously a reference to the yellow star. It is equally likely to be a reference to the Israeli blue star.

          “Holocaust victim” has simply become a code word for perpetual victim. Maybe you should read Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors.

          • Kodie

            “There are many Holocaust survivors and their descendants here” So who
            cares except them? What does that have to do with anything? The U.S.
            had nothing to do with it. There are many Native Americans and their
            descendants here, but they don’t get memorials.

            People aren’t just given memorials by the government. Interested groups campaign and raise funds and propose that one should be built and submit designs for approval. If you would like to memorialize the Indians, start raising money. Regarding the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., this is how monuments go through the process. I picked this one out of recent memory because I remember when funds were being raised and proposals to the site and design were being made, and mostly how it was considered strange that such an oversight had been made for so many decades that no official memorial had yet existed, while one for the Vietnam War had. These things don’t just go up because they should – someone has to put the process in motion and raise funds.

            • Randay

              I wrote about this in the earlier thread on this subject. The US Holocaust Museum was started in 1978 when Pres. Carter established a commission. The government donated the land in the center of D.C. $190 million was raised including government funds. It was built in 5 years 1988-93. So the whole process took only 15 years.

              About 150 years since the abolition of slavery, there is still no National Slavery Memorial Museum. One project for one was to be built on privately donated land far outside D.C. It is now insolvent because of unpaid property taxes. Does the Holocaust Museum have to pay property taxes? Since 2001, the project has only been able to raise $50 million of $200 million needed. Gee I wonder why there is such a disparity in donations between the two Museums?

              Vonita Foster, executive director said, ” that about three-quarters of the corporations she had approached had declined to donate.”

              Now there is another project created by the Smithsonian, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. This one will be in downtown D.C and is supposed to open in 2015. Long overdue. I hope their fund raising goes better.

          • Anna

            I have no idea what your problem is with Holocaust survivors, but I think it is ludicrous to claim that it is the Israeli blue star. The state of Israel didn’t even exist at the time. Regardless, I don’t think further discussion will be productive.

  • Sean Sherman

    Seems to be misguided.

  • viaten

    I lean toward letting this one slide or at least not being so strongly opposed to it. It just doesn’t seem to have religion all that tied to it. But then I’m not sure how or where the line should be drawn. But if AA or FFRF said it’s OK or didn’t speak up about it, I wonder what Christians would say. “Oh. So the Star of David is OK with them, but not a cross, not even a simple one. Such hypocrites.”

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Yeah, that’s why I’m torn about it. I’m with Dan Fincke that the star represents Jews, no Judaism, but at the same time, the average observer does not think that, and the vast majority of theists with an opinion on the matter are going to make shit up about the AA and FFRF no matter what they do. Ever try to explain to people what these groups actually do? You can link to them a list of Christians that the ACLU has represented, and they will come right back with the exact same lie*, only with a conspiracy theory attached to it.

      *Edit: Original lie is that they don’t represent Christians. Revised lie is that they don’t “really” represent Christians, but pretend to so that they can keep serving Satan or something.

      • viaten

        It seems the objection should be more over a favored ethnic group than a favored religion. But then I’m not sure how many US soldiers, gays, mentally ill and their advocates really care or take a side just because the issue has been raised.

        This is one situation where I wish AA and FFRF came up with a carefully calculated/worded position somewhere in between so that both atheists and theists couldn’t object, but maybe that isn’t possible. I’d rather not see a law suit over this and hope it comes to some reasonable resolution.

    • LJinFLA

      If I was just passing by and saw that, which is what I saw in the picture just now. Without reading the text I thought, must be some jewish memorial. After reading the text that went with the picture I am certain, with no doubts that the star of david should NOT be the symbol everyone sees in the distance. Not if they want to “honor” all the victims.

      • viaten

        I can see your point. But how many others would have to think the same way and be concerned about it that something should be done about it? At what point should it matter? I don’t object to people raising the issue now, but if the issue were raised after it was put up, I wonder how many people would demand it be changed, or just say “Well, OK then”. To me it’s a very borderline thing and I wonder how many people are making an issue of it just to make an issue of it.

      • viaten

        It seems your describing two possible objections. It’s potentially a public religious symbol when first seen from a distance, but then becomes a biased ethnic representation close up. I might have a religious objection when first seeing it from a distance, but it would consider it a false objection. I wouldn’t retain the religious objection after seeing the text and would be ambivalent about the ethnic objection. But regardless, I’m not sure how the church and state separation principle should apply here.

  • LesterBallard

    How about symbols representing other groups the Nazis persecuted and murdered, including Pink Triangles?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The government should not be endorsing one religion over another. Acknowledging the existence of and historical significance of religion in history and culture is not a problem, imho.

  • LJinFLA

    When you see a Star of David, who do you think of? What people do you think of? Case closed. It is the wrong symbol to represent all of the people.

    • C Peterson

      I think of the Jewish people, not the Jewish religion, which is why I don’t see this as a First Amendment issue.

      If the purpose of this memorial is to commemorate the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, the symbol is arguably appropriate. If the purpose of the memorial is to commemorate all the victims of Nazi genocides, than it arguably is not.

      • WalterWhite007

        ‘Jewish’ is a religion term; or a cultural term at the least but still involving religion. Like all religious terms they are divisive and are designed that way.

  • Mike McFall

    I think saying that Silverman is showing a knee-jerk reaction may be missing the point that he is a Jewish atheist.

    • Kodie

      If anything, people defending the monument out of sympathy for the Jews are expressing a knee-jerk reaction. NOBODY is saying we shouldn’t be sympathetic. Just like when Christians want to propose a memorial to fallen soldiers with a cross. NOBODY is saying we shouldn’t memorialize them.

    • Randay

      Silverman is an atheist, not a “Jewish atheist”. No more than I am a “Lutheran atheist”.

      • Mike McFall
        • Randay

          No they don’t and I have lost most of my respect for Silverman. All his arguments about holy days and even food apply equally to me as a person brought up in a Lutheran family and tradition and almost everyone around where I grew up was Lutheran. My grandparents had foods named in their native language, and I still use those words and eat that food when I can find it or make it myself.

          In spite of all that, I don’t call myself either a “Lutheran atheist” nor a “xian atheist”. Nobody else does either.

          Saying you are a “Jewish atheist” is saying you’re somehow different and something special compared to others. If Silverman sees this, I hope he will realize how mistaken he is. He is Jewish or he is an atheist like I am Lutheran or an atheist.

          Saying you are a “Jewish atheist” is just giving fuel to anti-semites who might well say, “You see the Jews themselves think they are different than the rest of us.”

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I consider myself a Jewish atheist as well. Part of Jewish culture (distinct from Judaism the religion) is indeed a tribal heritage and an apartness- it can and probably should be criticized, but it’s there. If I just say I’m an atheist, people will assume I grew up Christian or atheist. It erases an important part of who I am and who I was to ignore the fact that growing up Jewish had a lot of impact (mostly positive) on the person I have become.

        Who are you to tell someone what they can and cannot call themselves? I am a Jewish atheist, because I choose to identify myself that way, and Silverman is the same because he chooses to identify himself that way. That’s all there is to it.

        • Danny Klopovic

          Yet – ironically – you are doing exactly that by telling someone what they cannot call themselves. Specifically that there is such a thing as Christian atheism as in the work of Don Cupitt and the Sea of Faith movement. Not sure who you are that you can say that these people are not really Christian.

  • Son Of Goldstein

    The targeting of the Star of David is different, because the Holocaust was different. Certainly many others died in World War Two, but the Holocaust was about eliminating Jews from the face of the earth.
    To claim otherwise is Holocaust Denial, and borders on hate speech.

    • Jim Olson

      No one is “targeting” the star of David. No, it is not different. The star of David is equal to and serves the same purpose as the crucifix. It may be special and different to you as an individual, but it is not different in the abstract. Give me a break with the hate speech shit, With friends like you who needs enemies. Holocaust denial my ass. A dead orthodox Russian is just as dead as a dead Polish Jew, unless of course you think Jews are more special

  • Atheistiana

    This particular situation has made me think about our complaints of crosses at memorials. I don’t have a problem with the star of David here, nor do I have a problem with the cross at the 9/11 memorial. I would like the addition of others that ALSO were killed/murdered during these events, but where do we draw the line? The same with holiday/Christmas displays. Yes, we should all be represented, but the constant bickering about it sort of demeans the event itself.

    • Kodie

      The problem with the “bickering,,” as you call it, is that there is never a good time to say “no”. Out of reverence, we have to let every symbol and statue and memorial with a cross on it, because people are sad and people demand respect because of their feelings. People die, soldiers are killed, Jews were killed, etc. NOBODY is saying A memorial is not appropriate. What people are saying is THIS memorial is inappropriate. How to broach the subject when people are worried about demeaning the event? Let everything go everywhere without concern? It’s remarkably ignorant to suggest such a memorial that excludes people who also deserve respect and reverence and solemn reflection. It’s “demeaning” to give a little input to the people erecting the monument that they have insensitively overlooked victims of the same atrocity?

      When does this stop being ridiculous? I mean, they do something that hurts and excludes groups of people who were also rounded up and gassed, but they’re offended because they forgot to think of them?

      • Atheistiana

        My point is inclusion. That’s all. And yes, bickering IS what I call it when people refuse to compromise and consider other opinions. I’m guilty of it myself until this specific instance came up. I’ve been a crusader for “remove all crosses from government property,” but this has made me see it a little differently.
        So Kodie… just take a breath and calm down please. There are several quotation marks, caps, and a bit of italics that were not necessary because I’m sure we see things the same way.

  • http://diehardgamefan.com/ Crystal Steltenpohl

    Why don’t we keep the Star of David and add the other symbols used to label groups? No reason to really take it out as the Holocaust happened primarily to eliminate Jews… Just make sure it’s not the only group represented, as there were most definitely other victims.

    • Guest

      11-12 Million victims in the holocaust. Approximately 6 Million were Jews. That’s a sizable portion of the victims not represented. Even if there were 99% Judaism practicing victims, the 1% is cast aside.

      • http://diehardgamefan.com/ Crystal Steltenpohl

        I agree. Which is why I said to represent the other groups as well.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        It helps to look at percentages as well. ~67% of the Jews in Europe died in the Holocaust. In some countries such as Poland, it was 90%. While other groups were clearly targeted, none suffered nearly that high a percentage of losses nor were they targeted as viciously and mercilessly. Half of the victims of the Holocaust were members of a pretty small minority group (9 million Jews in all of Europe).

        Other victims should still be memorialized. I come down against this memorial on public land, built with public funds, for that reason. However, it is incredibly dishonest to argue that Jews were not uniquely targeted for extermination.

  • abby

    I will say, it’s better than the 10 commandments. At least it’s a true story. I support the monument of the Holocaust. However, I do believe in separation of church and state. If they feature all of the symbols that were used then it’s ok. I’m all for it.

  • DougI

    If Fincke sees a billboard for Coca-Cola does he think it’s an advertisement for Coke or representative of all colas? It’s pretty clear that a Star of David is an advertisement for Judaism, not symbolic of everyone who died in the Holocaust.

  • Jim Olson

    This memorial screams, “Juden, Juden”

  • darwintyson

    I’m really confused by all of this. The Star of David is not a religious symbol as they, the FFRF stated in their brief. Dan may know all there is to know about christianity be he doesn’t know shit about Judaism obviously. What the fuck is the FFRF talking about? If this is supposed to be a violation of church and state and the star is not a religious symbol, which it’s not, why are they wasting donations on this shit?

    • Mark Bender

      Well, for one, the Star of David IS a religious symbol that specifically represents the religion of Judaism. There were upwards of 6 Million non-Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust in addition to the approximately 6 Million Jews. Secondly, David Silverman is a Jewish atheist. I think he knows some “shit” about Judaism, obviously.

      • darwintyson

        No Mark actually it doesn’t. I come from an orthodox Jewish background filled with Talmudic scholars. The bulk of my family was lost in the holocaust and I lived with the survivors so please don’t presume to tell me what the fuck I know. My argument is the Star of David is not a religious symbol so FFRF shouldn’t have been involved in the first place. And I won’t presume what David does or doesn’t know as I didn’t reference him but if he thinks the star of david is a religious symbol he’s as wrong as Dan and you.

        • Mark Bender

          Sorry, I thought you stated David, not Dan. However, I didn’t realize that you now speak for all Jews on the matter of the symbology of the Star of David. We can discuss this further with plenty of Jews who clearly disagree with you.

          • darwintyson

            Do me a favor, save the sarcastic bullshit for yourself. The Star of David is not a religious symbol for Judaism. Simple as that. It is representative of the state and ethnicity. My confusion is because the FFRF is fighting a symbol that is not religious. If there is a Jew that thinks it’s a religious symbol, ask them exactly what it represents and at what time it was adopted since Judaism is fairly old. Or you could look it up and be surprised by what you find.

            • Eric Goberman

              Yet, we jews wear a star of david or a mazuzeh as a symbol of our faith. How is it not recognized as such.

              • Eric Goberman

                It was a gift to solomon and purported to be magical. And on david’s shield

                • darwintyson

                  At one point it was called the star of Solomon and there are several other interpretations but regardless, it’s still not a religious symbol. I’m in no way saying it is not readily identified with Jews. And, FFRF should not have been involved in this. There are real fights and this isn’t one but I can see what the larger issue is, almost everyone believes it’s a religious symbol of Judaism, ánd they’re wrong. Trying to convince people of this is like trying to convince people there is no god.

                • Eric Goberman

                  Ffrf wrote a letter. I happen to agree since they had multiple designs that would have been more inclusive. Separation of church and state is something jews fightnfor. Becasue of the holocaust

                • Eric Goberman

                  And no threat of a lawsuit.

                • Eric Goberman

                  It is arguably a symbol of judaism. Not religious but judaism is a religion nonetheless

                • Kodie

                  You just don’t care about any of the other victims that shared your people’s fate in the Holocaust?

                • Eric Goberman

                  My comments have always been – respect all who died not just the jews.

                  who were you addressing ?

                • Kodie

                  It says right next to my name a reply to darwintyson.

                • Eric Goberman

                  //I’m in no way saying it is not readily identified with Jews. And, FFRF should not have been involved in this. //

                  I think you’re missing the points.
                  - Since it is commonly recognized as a symbol of judaism
                  – Since it is sponsored by the govt
                  – Since it is being placed on govt property
                  – Since it is casting aside almost half of those who perished in the holocaust

                  Then the govt is making a statement. This is no different than a war memorial to our vets and having just a latin cross on it. ALL vets were NOT christian.

                  On a side note was a comment on a completely different thread :
                  If they can get this then we can have crosses.

                  How about neither OR be more encompassing and respect all who perished.

              • darwintyson

                I have met many people that wear a star that aren’t Jewish. I know many that do and are. That’s not the point. The religion itself does not recognize it as a symbol of religiosity but ethnicity. I studied to be a rabbi for 10 years. I know a little about this. I am stunned that the FFRF is pissing away money on a symbol that has no religious merit. As I mentioned to Mark, google the star as a religious symbol and you’ll find it’s not recognized as one.

                • Eric Goberman

                  I guess all those graves with stars, synagougues with stars will have to start over. Hitler just picked some random math symbol and said “this’ll do”

                • darwintyson

                  Now you’re being an asshole and an incorrect asshole at that. Don’t bother sending anything else, we’re done.

                • Eric Goberman

                  You’ve been one from the start.. We worship god..we have no idol including the star but when we see a building with a star of david there is no mistake what itnis. I worked in mexico cityand found the synagogue because of the star. It is what it regaedless of denial

                • Eric Goberman

                  In addition, my grandfather started a tempe and cemetery in his town..why is the a mogen david on the gates and on the face of the temple. It has nonreligious significance. But we respect it signficance as a sign of our faith/religion

                • darwintyson

                  First of all, I’m an atheist so we have a fundamental belief difference however I still believe you are an asshole but now I’m more convinced. Just curious how for the first 3000 years or so anyone found the shul since the symbol came into usage by all accounts around 1100 ad but is more accurately believed to be the 1700s. No wonder mosses was lost for so long. No fucking star.

                • Eric Goberman

                  Anthropology must be foreign to you.. Your lack of knowledge is not my concern. But it demonstrates the lack of knowledge in your comments. Go evolve

                • Kodie

                  It has religious merit to the rest of the country who aren’t Jewish. It is associated with Judaism as the analog to the cross for Christianity. It is the first thing that appears when a Christian cross-bearing city hall lawn tries to demonstrate religious diversity. Why haven’t you gone to great lengths to educate the public? Why doesn’t every local government of ever have a clue that this star doesn’t represent you religiously? This makes no sense to me. Why aren’t you opposed to other people misrepresenting you and the widespread misinformation that everyone who isn’t Jewish believes your star is your religious symbol? They are trying to represent diversity for you. Judaism has got to be the second-most popular religious in the US. I realize there are ethnic Jews, cultural Jews, etc. but I am an atheist who, if not for a series of fortunate events (as I see it), I would be Catholic or Presbyterian. Nobody confuses the cross as being anything but a Christian symbol – it’s not a symbol for people who would have been Christian. It’s not a special symbol for people whose families have historically been Christians. Nobody in America but Jews seems to be aware that the Star of David is not a religious symbol.

                  You got some spectacular PR. Apparently, it’s just fine for you if they put up a Star of David next to the cross, you are a special ethnic group, ahead of black people, Japanese people, Nordic people, Dominicans, Mexicans, Filipinos, Dutch, Irish, and NATIVE INDIANS, for fucks sake, etc., all these stand aside, and ethnic cultural Jews stand beside Christians in the US collective perception. That’s just weird.

                  Clear that shit up, please.

            • Kodie

              Everyone else thinks it’s a religious symbol. I don’t presume to speak for everyone else, but as someone who is not a Jew, I have never ever thought of the Star of David as anything but a symbol for Jews like the cross is for Christians.

  • Wes

    The Star of David certainly IS a symbol of Judaism. Is that really up for debate? It’s one of many symbols and it’s very well-known. If the monument somehow had the word “Jude” inside of the star symbol then it might be a little more appropriate, but as it is now it’s a religious symbol just like a Christian cross that should not be a public monument.

    • Wes

      I wanted to add that its use as an overarching and identifying symbol of Judaism as a religion is something that’s being debated still (perhaps quietly). Some people reject it because of it’s mystical past [thinking it's ridiculous] while others reject it because there seem to be better and more meaningful symbols available.

      Nevertheless, the Star of David has been adopted as a symbol of “Jewry” which really only denotes an ethnic connection rather than a religious one. I think a lot of people have a disconnect in their understanding of Judaism. There is a Jewish religion and there is a Jewish ethnicity (in fact it is made up of MANY different ethnic groups).

      Honestly, I think they should just scrap this or use a different design. There are plenty of great Holocaust memorials that don’t memorialize specific victims. As many people have said, the Jewish victims were not the only ones.

      I’m also annoyed by people trying to use emotion to drive any argument here. Yes, the holocaust was a tragedy and we all wish we could have garroted Hitler [well...some of us at least]. but in honoring it you shouldn’t focus on any ‘type’ of victim but rather honor them all.

      • Randay

        “There is a Jewish religion and there is a Jewish ethnicity (in fact it is made up of MANY different ethnic groups).”

        That doesn’t make any sense.

  • guest38288

    Heh, call me uneducated… tho we had lots of WWII in school and jews and war heroes, maybe even nazis, coming to school holding speeches. And the tv shown a bunch of documentaries which I tried to avoid as much as possible because WWII is a really boring subject to me, but i saw a few.. We even saw Schindlers List in one class.
    But before this clip and reading the comments below I had no idea the nazis were targeting other groups too… Which makes me think this star is a terrible idea, because it will keep ppl like me unaware of other groups of people being targeted and killed.

  • onamission5

    I’d be more than okay with the Star of David being used, if it was included as part of a list of the symbols used to identify those interred. Really the shape of an inverted triangle is a more appropriate symbol for such a monument. Not to erase the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, but rather, to include amongst Jews the Roma, the homeless, gay men, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all of the other groups of people who were also rounded up, tortured and killed. The Star of David is a symbol which does not represent all who were oppressed under Naziism but represents one group alone, essentially erasing everyone else. A public Holocaust memorial ought to be inclusive to all who suffered under the same horror.

    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005378

  • brianz72

    I think dissecting the arguments on both sides results in missing the larger point, which is that the atheist community needs to pick their battles a little better (and I speak as an atheist). This is a battle that only makes us reinforce stereotypes. It’s just not worth it.

    We also need to distinguish better between “promoting religion” and “acknowledging the existence of religion.” This memorial doesn’t promote Judaism anymore than a slavery memorial promotes African-Americanism. It is simply a statement of our values, that as Americans we are opposed to the concept of genocide. A memorial to a group ravaged by genocide – which may be a race, a religion, an ethnicity – is not an endorsement or promotion.

  • Kodie

    I find the one with the Star of David to be the most aesthetically appealing after all. I think when you posted before, I didn’t notice or probably didn’t scroll down to see the other two. I don’t think Fincke has a good point and Silverman does, but looking at the other two proposals, they just aren’t as good. I don’t think anyone has a problem memorializing the Holocaust victims, and it’s not about that, but setting a precedent of allowing Jewish symbolism. It also erases other victims and survivors of concentrations camps, as well as promote a political alignment with Israel. I think it’s complicated, but as much as I like it, and I even like the star formation in the empty space, I would say this particular monument proposal should be rejected on constitutional principle and failure to establish consistency with our constitutional principle. Of course I don’t like that Jews were killed, but I don’t like that history has forgotten other non-Jewish victims either. It was an atrocity! Why should we forget them?

  • Lijdare

    There is a point in which the separation of religion from history gets to be just plain dumb. This is one of them.

    • Kodie

      Contrarily, one religion has so been enfolded in the history of the event that all other groups victimized by the same atrocity have been erased.

      • Lijdare

        Well, 6 million plus will do that.

        • Kodie

          Nobody is denying that the Jews suffered. Why should anyone deny that anyone else also suffered? I personally prefer the design of this monument to the other two aesthetically, and would even endorse it if Jews were the only victims and targets of the Holocaust, in spite of its religious symbolism.

          The problem arises because we should express due sympathy to the Jews but nobody else. We should recognize the Jews’ plight but nobody else. This is just like when Christians want a memorial to fallen soldiers that uses a cross. It overlooks the efforts and sacrifices of anyone who wasn’t a Christian. All most people know about Hitler was that he hated and wished to exterminate Jews. Why should it end there? I feel very bad for Jews being a major target of Hitler. I also feel very strongly that, in order to bring ourselves out of ignorance, we ought to recognize that he targeted, imprisoned, and eradicated (as much as he could) from the population other people, many millions of them also, who, up until recently, I guess people didn’t care or didn’t know about. I think it is the most rational course to increase education, rather than single out the most famous victims and forget about everyone else. It surprises me that people are in favor of obscuring historical events as they were instead of opening our consciousness to the much larger atrocity against humanity that it was than we formerly understood.

  • Danny Klopovic

    “but the fact remains that Jews weren’t the only victims of the Holocaust”

    Unfortunately, this is not a fact at all. The Holocaust is purely a Jewish event – the term “Holocaust” (Shoah) denotes the Jewish experience under the Nazis. That others died under the Nazi regime is part of the wider destruction and various groups describe it accordingly such as the Romani who describe this as the Porajmos ie. the Devouring or Heger’s account of the Pink Triangle for homosexuals. So it is true that Jews were not the only victims of the Nazi terror as distinct from the subset that is the Holocaust.

    • Ton_Chrysoprase

      Well, if you want to get that technical Holocaust memorials are decidedly an endorsement of religion.

      • Danny Klopovic

        I am not convinced that a Holocaust memorial is an endorsement of religion but it is specifically Jewish – which is fine and I think unproblematic since for the Nazis, religious background was irrelevant to their assessment of what constituted a Jew and there are secular Jews who identify easily enough with the star.

        The point however is that one should not subsume the sufferings of others such as the Romani, homosexuals, the disabled etc under the “Holocaust” since that terminology has resonances that other groups are unlikely to acknowledge nor should they be obliged to do so. Why not have for example the “Memorial of the Devouring” since that is how the Romani describe it?

        To assert “Holocaust” as the singular word is t0 elide the experiences of others, thus making the Jewish experience somehow normative. If one wants to commemorate, then any such memorial should not be called a Holocaust memorial but something else that is reflective of the various groups that were targeted for destruction by the Nazis – for various reasons. A multiplicity of images should then be used such as the Star of David, the pink triangle, the black triangle etc or something much more general.

        • Ton_Chrysoprase

          I am always impressed how people can keep up that level of sophistry in light of the artrocities committed. I care about what humans did to other humans, the rest is secondary.

          Having long discussions about the terminology seems always like an effort to distance oneself from what has happened, not dissimilar to the coping strategies some of the perpetrators used. The sad fact is that the Nazi genocides were unique in their effectiveness but that history shows that pretty much all humans are capable of this kind of thing.

          • Danny Klopovic

            Some people are comfortable with dismissing the singular experiences of various groups by rejecting the importance of naming.

  • Georgina

    Mis-Quoting from the Quoran? Have I missed something? (5:32)

  • Dave The Sandman

    Ok – my twopennethworth

    First up my response to Dan. As others have pointed out to you there are a plethora of symbols associated with the Holocaust, and most were not Stars of David. Now you can recognise that, and then move on to the position that in that case using any one symbol, particularly one that is the symbol representing a religion, is highly inappropriate and disrespectful. Or you can continue being wrong.

    Now on to Dave. Why Dave seems to be the go to guy for Faux Noodles hate segs is waaaay beyond me. It is the definition of tilting at windmills. He must know that whatever he says will be twisted and turned against him, and that the whole exercise is just a pointless 5 minutes of crosstalk mediababble. There is feck all chance you will change one single mind of a Faux viewer….. so why the hell bother? Its as pointless as debating creationists. Just say no and thus deny them the chance to play along with their twisted hate promulgation game.

    Now as to the monument itself. errrrr…. why? Why a monument to Hitler’s Genocide? Why not one to Stalin’s much worse one? Or Mussolini’s in Africa? Or Pol Pot’s genocide of Cambodia? The genocides in the Balkans, Rawanda, and all the way back to Armenia at the start of the 20thC? You want kids to remember genocides, why pick just one? If you want kids to learn of the dangers of genocide, better you actually educate them and show they were not just an isolated incident, and in fact a pattern of 20C totalitarian rule.

    • Randay

      See my comment below.

    • Ton_Chrysoprase

      Any reason you left out Native Anericans? Shouldn’t the US first get to terms with it’s foundational Genocide? Or how about slavery?
      Any US Holocaust memorial first and foremost is an abuse of the suffering of millions for the purpose of feeling superior to other nations.

  • h2ocean

    I’m no design expert, but other prisoners had to wear various colours of triangles, and the Star of David is made up of two traingles….seems potentially easy to incorporate all of them. I could imagine other triangular cut outs with stained glass or something.

  • Tobias2772

    Perhaps we could start a fundraiser to promote the building one of the other designs that memorialize the Holocaust without the overt religious symbols.

  • Jonas

    “If you save one life it is as if you have saved the world” Both on the header quote on the inscription, and within the main text, as the Fox news host read it is — drumroll please — A JEWISH CONCEPT, and Tradition.

    Further though the site is a memorial to those who didn’t make it, not a memorial to those who tried to rescue the Jews, and others — at great risk to themselves. The quote seems to be just thrown in there – because it’s a Jewish idea.

    So sorry I must disagree with Mr. Silverman there is something wrong with the inscription.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    Whatever else this was, it certainly was a tactical mistake. The argument that the star constitutes a direct endorsement is very difficult to make. One could argue that the selective highlighting of the suffering of one group by means of a religiously understood symbol implies an endorsement of the group, but why not just oppose it on that ground without invoking the first amendment? Depending on how the conversation goes, you can always bring that up later. Ceding the high ground in the public perception can not be a good move.

  • David

    This has always bothered me. 13 million people died as a result of the Third Reich and the only ones that ever get mentioned are the 6 million Jews. But we also treat Jews as a race, not a religion. We identify people as Jewish whether or not they believe in the canon.

  • Ullrich Fischer

    I really like the memorial as art, but Hemant and the FFRF are right. If we let this slide, it will be used to legitimize all the Catholic and Evangelical icons that keep popping up all over the public square. Isn’t there a big synagogue or art gallery somewhere nearby to which this beautifully evocative work of art could be moved?

  • ThyGoddess

    It’s a thin line to thread though I see the point about a religious symbol. Still, this memorial isn’t saying “Become a jew today!”. It’s not really the same as a giant cross that makes me feel “This is a memorial to the dead but YEA CHRISTIAN GROUND HERE SO PISS OFF!”. I know you could argue it’s the same, and you would probably be right, but somehow something doesn’t feel the same. It’s remembering a horrible event so we never forget it, a genocide just because someone was of a particular religion and culture. Yes, there were other mass murders by plenty of other demented dictators, some where not targeting specific branches. If you want you can argue that you’d prefer a memorial to the general mass murders and disgrace of humanity, but when you pinpoint a particular event that’s when it somehow gets more substance.

    But in the end I’m really not a fan of memorials and monuments in general. I prefer to have more grass to sit on than see a huge slab of cold stone. Cities have enough of that. Want to remember the holocaust and learn a few lessons about human greed and hatred? Go visit where it happened, and read on it. Then you’ll have a memorial to it in your mind.

  • Ullrich Fischer

    I’ve read a bunch of the comments here and none of the quibbles about whether the Star of David is a Jewish ethnic or religious symbol addresses the point that the christian right will inevitably use this monument on public property as a precedent for popping in 10 commandment and cross monuments all over the place so on that basis, it needs to be moved to private property or (and this is definitely a distant 2nd choice for me) modified. Having a negative space triangle in place of the star would be the least damaging to the artistic impact of the piece, IMHO.

  • Dave G.

    A writer has said that many modern atheists are like Napoleon Dynamite with a mean streak. I would say this controversy demonstrates that pretty well.

    • Matt D

      There’s nothing controversial about doing the right thing, and to recognize EVERYONE who has died on a Holocaust Memorial, is doing just that.

  • Lauryn

    I was wondering about the last paragraph, too!

  • Brett Anderson

    Not sure why something this small is being fought so hard, but the following isn’t being fought at all:

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/26/tennessee-christians-say-majority-rule-gives-them-the-power-to-violate-rights-of-non-christians-video/

  • Gander

    I lean with Fincke on this one. Though, as usual, in our community, the arguments on both sides are persuasive. I hope we don’t confuse or conflate this with the battle over the ridiculous cross beams of The Twin Towers debate, though. Different animal entirely.
    My take on it, if I can get away with this bald-faced plug of my own nascent blog:
    http://realitybyalex.blogspot.com/2013/07/david-silverman-american-atheiststhe.html


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X