Saturday, January 24, 2009

The New York Times on Bishop Williamson

In a piece from today's New York Times on Pope Benedict's reinstatement of four bishops, Rachel Donadio wrote"a particularly contentious part of the reinstatement on Saturday was the inclusion of Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers."

Williamson's Antisemitism, which Telegraph writer Damian Thompson wrote about in his blog last March, is newsworthy, but you would never know it from Donadio's words, or at least not unless you read carefully and made it to the twelfth paragraph, where she explains 'in a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was hugely against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”' The key word here is "millions."

In this quote Williamson denied that "millions" of Jews were killed in gas chambers, which is entirely different from denying, as Donadio wrote before, that 6 million Jews were gassed. If he had said the latter, he would have been factually accurate, and this statement alone would not be evidence of his Holocaust denial.

It has been well documented that Approximately 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, but they did not all die in gas chambers. An estimated 3.5 million, slightly more than half, were killed in this way. The rest died in a variety of other horrific ways including disease that resulted from the unthinkable living conditions in concentration camps, shooting, medical experimentation, and suicide. That they were not all killed in gas chambers does not make their deaths any less horrific nor does it make the Nazis any less guilty.

Most of my Jewish ancestors who did not emigrate to the United States from Eastern Europe were never heard from again, and were probably killed by the Nazis in one way or another, and I cannot say that I would be relieved to learn that their cause of death was not gassing. What matters is that they were murdered in a genocide.

It is important that we get the historical facts right. Repeating false statistics does nothing to rectify the atrocities of the Holocaust or to educate the public about them. We can simply say that 6 million Jews were murdered. That fact is both accurate and devastating.

Donadio should investigate Williamson's anti-Semitism further. His denial of the Holocaust is just the tip of the iceberg. She should also get her facts straight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama and Adams in the news

I spent the long weekend (no classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day) in Portland, and watched clips from the inauguration on before driving back to Eugene on Tuesday afternoon. I listened to further Obama coverage on KOPB until the signal faded, and then switched to KLCC. It was a little anti-climactic for me, after all the excitement of the campaign and election night, and most of the coverage wasn't too insightful, though All Things Considered had an interesting analysis of Obama's inaugural address including a comparison to speeches of previous presidents.

What's been more interesting in the past few days is the coverage of the Sam Adams scandal, which is getting almost as much attention in Portland's papers as our new president.

Perhaps more interesting than the news coverage itself is the debate that's going on in the comment sections that follow the online stories, such as those on the websites of Willamette Week, who broke the story, and the Oregonian. The response is surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent, expressing a variety of opinions about Adams' actions, whether or not he should step down, and on the media's coverage of the story. That's something you don't get when you pick up a hard copy of the newspaper. I'm really glad to be able to follow the responses of Portlanders from my computer here in Eugene.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Term Begins

I am halfway into my second week of winter term. I think the combination of classes and extracurricular activities I'm participating in are going to keep me pretty busy, which makes me almost relieved that I am not working right now (the restaurant I was at since I moved here just went under). My hope is that I won't have time to spend money.

I am now taking Writing for the Media, the last of my pre-Journalism classes. I think it's going to be challenging, but I expect to learn a lot. I am glad that I took Intro to Media Writing at PCC before transferring. It is a definite bonus to be somewhat familiar with the basic concepts. I got back my first graded assignment today, which I did not edit it as carefully as I should have. I am relieved that we are given the opportunity to resubmit.

I have joined Duck U, for which I get 1 credit, but more importantly I get hands-on experience working with professional equipment. So far I have gotten to work with a pretty nice digital video camera, and have gotten some practice setting up lights.

I am also going to be shooting video for UFO's major project for the year, a feature-length (or close to it) romantic comedy about FBI agents working in Eugene. The film is untitled as of now, but the script was just finished, and we are planning to hold auditions in a couple of weeks. I think this is going to take up a lot of my time, but I think it will be a valuable experience and am looking forward to it.