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View Diary: The Shoah by Bullets (99 comments)

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  •  That is a limited definition... (0+ / 0-)

    Holo.. has connotations of universal, widespread, all-encompassing etc.

    And the original literal meaning of the ancient Greek word has had much more added to it since.

    In the 17th century the meaning of holocaust broadened to "something totally consumed by fire," and the word eventually was applied to fires of extreme destructiveness. In the 20th century holocaust has taken on a variety of figurative meanings, summarizing the effects of war, rioting, storms, epidemic diseases, and even economic failures. Most of these usages arose after World War II, but it is unclear whether they permitted or resulted from the use of holocaust in reference to the mass murder of European Jews and others by the Nazis. This application of the word occurred as early as 1942, but the phrase the Holocaust did not become established until the late 1950s.

    Shoah has the distinction of being more specific given the other uses of the word Holocaust. But Holocaust is still very apt considering that most of a people and their entire history and way of life came close to extinction in Europe.
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    It is something to ponder that the Palestinians use an Arabic word with a similar meaning

    al Nakba (Arabic: النكبة‎), meaning the "disaster", "catastrophe", or "cataclysm

    for the events in 1947 and later that with much less loss of life has a similar place in their own group identity. One which more non-Palestinians would sympathize with if so many Palestinians did not also tend minimize or deny the much larger reality of the Shoah.

    And some who strive to make "never again" a world-shared goal, do study other holocausts in other places and times and do not stray into a victim hubris which only focuses on the wrongs done to their own people. They of course will do more to keep the lessons alive and passed on to each generation so that the teaching that harm to anyone is harm to all has not only universal meaning but universal reality. And that is the only way a new Shoah/holocaust or genocide of any kind committed by any group against another group will never happen again.

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    Apologies that this is straying a bit from the very important information in an excellent diary and your comment... but while on the general topic...

    Discussions of which word is most appropriate and who can or should use or not use which one as well as whose history has the greatest tragedy will hopefully not be needed anymore someday. I know this has not come up in this thread and more people do need to know and understand the term "Shoah" but I note that there are some in the world who fight denial and minimization of evil or claims by other groups of greater victimhood by using their own attempts to out define these other claims of greater harm or destruction by other groups in some sort of contest to claim ultimate victimhood.

    Again, it almost cheapens the memory of any who suffered and died in widespread periods of evil to use statistics and arbitrary parameters to define the borders a specific large scale inhumanity. Any mass murder or horrific treatment of any people still consists of pain, fear and death in increments of individuals and while important to know the scale and the circumstances of all of the different histories the apple and orange comparisons to see who has the claim to being the top victim distracts and even negates the real purpose of striving for greater awareness.

    When all Shoahs are studied and documented and admitted to the point that one or another group does not feel like their story is being ignored and another given all the attention... or that special ones are paid attention to in ways that tends to obscure others or the perception that it is of lesser concern to the point of insignificance to most... And that would be a catastrophe... Near universal denial of any crime against humanity is in the end an invitation for too many to deny all or some of the rest of them. And that would leave the door open for a repeat in some form for almost any group that becomes a focus of hate or blame.

    The more recent and the larger they are the more we acknowledge them. But the catastrophes visited by one group on another stretch back throughout all history and the number of extinguished tribes or nations remembered or even just barely mentioned is probably outnumbered by the vanished peoples, languages, cultures and histories that we will never know of. Each of them had their own Shoah/Holocaust/genocide from any number of methods and intent at the hands of others, direct and indirect. Of course the more recent and horrific ones echo more among survivors and descendants and therefore do mean more to us.

    But it would be better if while acknowledging the harm done to us and others we also acknowledge the harm our own extended groups do to others. For example we had eight years of Bush finger pointing terrorists while never admitting the harm the US has done in so many places in the world. And alternately there are those who lay all the world's ills at the feet of the US forgetting and overlooking much else including crimes the very blamers are also complicit in. The other side of the coin to wholesale accusers are the "ultimate Guilt" claimers... who not only admit the wrongs the tribe or nationality or group they belong to but like an odd mirror image the claimers of ultimate victimhood, these individuals, in an orgy of extended group self-hatred as perhaps an odd way to redemption, claim their people are the most guilty and perpetrated the worst crimes.

    There is plenty of denial and blame in the world and not enough effort to overcome the mind sets involved. For some there is no room in their own grief and anger to learn about the harm done to others and that is a tragedy which can lead to a future with more of the same. For others the story is too horrible to contemplate or the victims not worthy of pity or concern and that also is a danger to the future. I hope that all Shoahs will come to be better known and understood for the good of all humanity and a hope for a wiser more peaceful future.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 02:32:55 AM PDT

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