While Dad passed the mashed potatoes to my older brother, he told of a neighbor who actually went outside and put a couple of rifle bullets through his own silo. Mom recalled that her aunt, fleeing on foot with her kids, was stopped by a local Sheriff's deputy. When he pulled up behind her and turned on his lights, she dropped her bags and screamed for the kids to run. Only after he called her name did she realize that he was the little human boy she helped raise, not a one-eyed Martian.
In 1938, troubling broadcasts from Nazi Germany already had the American public unsettled. The rising danger of invasion by Germany, the overcast threats of war, and rumors of the horrors which might already exist in Europe all combined to make the American people believe whatever they heard over the air waves. What they heard was an all-too-real "War of the Worlds" depicted as a broadcast journalism account of the United States being invaded by inhuman monsters.
Just how close that broadcast was to the truth did not become apparent until the following year, when British reports revealed atrocities against Jews and non-Jews at the Buchenwald concentration camp. With those reports, the world understood that what it had to deal with was something much scarier than inhuman monsters from Mars - it had to deal with human monsters living among us. History finds a way to repeat itself if we are not diligent.
This year, for me, has only hoisted a new red flag, which adds to that same public fear. Actually, it was an old red flag hoisted to new heights at Columbia University last month. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with alarming candor, advised all of us uneducated Americans that we had been totally fooled by our government into believing two myths: the Holocaust and 9-11. According to Ahmadimejad, the first was a complete hoax, and the second occurred without involvement by Al Qaeda.
What is so alarming is not only the fact that he denies what has been shown as historical fact; it reveals the true nature of the beast. Usually, a person reveals their true political and societal character in the issues they choose to defend. Iran has, in the past three years, given every indication that their president and the nation's official stand is: the holocaust was a myth.
Last February, cartoons were reprinted (by the Israeli News Agency) from Iran's most widely read newspaper. All of the cartoons, entries for a contest held by the newspaper, depicted the Holocaust in a derisive manner. In December 2006, Iran organized and hosted a conference to "determine whether the holocaust actually happened." Participants included a number of well-known "revisionist" Western academics, including American David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who presented a paper expressing doubt on the historical record. This past month, while speaking at Columbia University, the Iranian president questioned the official version of the Sept. 11 attacks and defended the right to cast doubt on the Holocaust.
If Ahmadimejad, and his government, is able to discount the mass of historical evidence, personal histories and photographs that stand as witness to the existence of this monstrous act by Nazi Germany, then it follows that they themselves wish to draw attention away from similar thought processes they themselves may engage in. Can it be that the Iranian government, in denying these events, is trying to focus our attention away from them?
Until 1938, Adolph Hitler denied that homosexuals were being incarcerated in his country. Records kept in the camps prove that homosexuals were not only incarcerated, but executed. Last month at Columbia, when the Iranian president sidestepped accusations that homosexuals were being executed in Iran by denying that homosexuals exist in Iran. The similarities between a dictator of 1938 Germany and the 2007 Iranian president is astounding.
In the digitized, technologically lightning-paced world of ours, no moment of an adult's life is really without fear. We are struck continuously with exactly how un-safe a universe we reside in, and there is no plausible comparison between the Hollywood monsters of yesteryear and the human monsters of today.
But don't worry, dear reader, this is only the ramblings and speculations of a columnist getting ready for Halloween; just my way, as Orson Welles said, of jumping out at you and saying "Boo!" Just my method of scaring....we interrupt this column for this special news alert...
Dennis Jones is a Martinez resident.
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