Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Whenever I tell people what the Spectacle means to me, one of the first things that comes to mind is the mail about An Auschwitz Alphabet. There was the young Italian girl who wrote, "I hope for one best world." In this letters column, someone, writing about Auschwitz, says, "I could cry for years."

I picked up a volume of Emily Dickinson a few weeks ago. I knew a couple of her poems from anthologies, but had never really read her before. One line burned itself into memory: "Wrecked, solitary, here." Desperate loneliness tempered by defiance. "Wrecked, solitary"-pain, and possibly self-pity. "Here." A statement of presence, as of school, but also a challenge to the sky.

More than half the mail I get about the Alphabet chides me for not believing in God. I had no intention of writing more about God; I had devoted the October 1995 issue to my views and thought I had nothing more to say. But Walter Lee's debate with Lizard about the Columbine shootings pushed me to formulate a new view, about morality in the absence of God, which I had never expressed. So here it is: one more debate about God, for those wrecked, solitary and here.

I enjoy your email and can be reached as usual at jw@bway.net.

The Columbine shootings
What liberal crap! More gun laws will do little to prevent incidents such as Columbine. It is pretty plain to see that a 5 day waiting period did nothing to prevent it. You can't legislate sanity nor quality child raising. Guns will always be available no matter how many more stupid laws are supported by the biased liberal media. Tell me how the TV journalist in London was shot in the head in broad daylight when guns are essentially banned in England? If you want to do something constructive to solve the problem, raise your kids to be responsible and know what they are doing, and don't believe & promote everything the media & government spoon feeds you to solve problems. If the parents of those two kids had been more involved in their lives they would have known something was going on a long time ago.

jim buettner catalina@netzero.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I'd like to start by thanking John O'Driscoll for putting down his viewpoints for dissection by the readers of The Ethical Spectacle. While I agree that violent resolutions upon an impressionable mind may cause that mind to solve problems in a violent way, I disagree w/his attributing the violence to computer games and TV shows. It seems to me that this is an over-simplification of a social problem much in the way that fantasy games such as Dungeons & Dragons are attributed to occultism.

John stated that the lack of moral ramifications in games such as Quake or socially redeeming values in shows like Southpark have caused the younger of this populace to suffer from arrested development in the social arena. However, these items did not cause his own fanatsies of violence which he stated that he had. There have been people throughout history that have caused horrors on a grand scale and some of them have been w/o the influence of Quake or Southpark. Therefore, since this cannot be a cause as outside influences like Quake have not always existed, there must be another reason for it.

Parenting plays a large role in the behavior of children as John stated. As do the interactions of children and the exposure it brings to the parenting styles of other adults. Economics play a role. As well as the chemical makeup of the individual. Foreign and domestic policy which threatens like the bully on the block.

I applaud John in his attempts to be a good parent. He obviously lapsed in allowing his daughter to play Duke Nukem (which comes w/a warning about the violent content) but corrected this as best he could. I just think John had a knee-jerk reaction to a tragic event as did most of America (at least in the media). There are no scapegoats in this, its just a chance to reflect upon what our society has become and hopefully learn a little about how we got there. We could remove all technological and mechanical innovations and we would still have violence. It would just be w/stones and sticks. We might question the worth of such actions as we do now but there would always be someone who didn't care. It's life. We deal w/it and move on. Not through more governmental regulation but w/a social conscious that's worth a damn. Our environment has changed to reflect us (as far as media and the like). If we want it to change, we must change. And by the looks of the state of the world, that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Scott Yanoska scott.yanoska@cio.treas.gov

Dear Jonathan:

A tax attorney once declared that there is no such thing as a "loophole" in the law. Either something was legal or illegal. In fact, he reminded his viewers that in our society, laws are generally passed as a careful set of compromises. Two sides with competing interests spar and wrangle and finally work out a set of details that is minimally agreeable to both sides and genuinely pleasing to neither. Unless that agreement is reached and a majority of those voting are at least satisfied with the compromise, the measure fails and everybody goes back to the drawing board.

Will Rogers once quipped, "If you like sausage or law, never watch them being made." In his day, few did. Now with C-Span, it is possible for the average American to glimpse the process at work. I watched the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons legislation become law. It was a close thing on both counts. The Brady Bill had failed time and time again. The compromises reached to pass the bill included such things as phasing out the waiting period after five years and going to a system of instant checks. It also included compromises that it would not affect private sales, even at places like gun shows.

The assault weapons bill left guns in private hands alone. It addressed only future manufacturing and import. It stipulated that new high capacity magazines had to be marked "For police use only" and the presumption maintained that unmarked magazines were pre-ban and legal.

Neither bill would have passed if they had not been crafted the way that they were. To declare that these compromises are "loopholes" in the law is deceptive. They were deliberate decisions agreed to by the majority of the Congress so that they could get enough votes to pass something. If not for these "loopholes," there would be no Brady check and no ban on "assault style weapons."

When you look at "The Guns of Columbine" as an indicator of the need for more laws, I suggest you take a look at the Columbine incident from the point of laws violated. I believe that the perpetrators violated a few. Off the top of my head, I see:

Murder of the Highest Degree
Attempted murder
Aggravated assault
Terroristic threats
Providing handgun to minor
Possession of firearm by minor without federally
       required permission slip from parent or guardian
Manufacture of an NFA weapon
Possession of NFA weapon (sawed off shotgun)
Possession of explosives
Possession of explosives with malicious intent
Making of explosives
Placing of explosives
Use of explosives
Concealed carry without permit
Gun on school grounds
Discharging firearm in city limits
Disturbing the peace
Committing a hate crime
In all likelihood, theft and burglary were committed to gain access to the school (missing keys and advance transportation of bombs)

There are multiple counts of most of these offenses and lesser charges included in many of them. Apparently, some of the preparations had been reported to the sheriff's office in advance. There were numerous kids in the group that admitted to making (and exploding) bombs in the preceding year. The kids were under court supervision for a burglary of a vehicle the preceding year. It is not as if the existing laws, if they were enforced, could not have provided a handle on this incident.

Lack of enforcement is a major part of the problem. The President claims that 250,000 hand gun sales have been stopped by the Brady law. In fact, he claims that number have been kept out of the hands of stalkers and felons. What he doesn't tell you is that every "stopped" sale, if it was a legitimate "stop," was direct evidence of a federal felony. In its first five years, the Brady law called for a purchaser to fill out an affidavit under penalty of perjury. Unless this form was completed, the dealer would have not called in the check. If the person indicated on that "sworn to" form that they were ineligible, the dealer would not have called it in. The information on the form showed their current address. It was backed up with a photo ID. The police knew that the person would return five days later to pick up the gun they had purchased. Sounds like some easy cases to me. Why have only 20 of them been prosecuted nationwide? Why have only seven of these 250,000 federal felons been convicted?

When we talk about lack of enforcement, Kip Kinkle (sp?), the young man who shot the kids in Oregon last year, was arrested on school grounds with an illegal handgun THE DAY BEFORE THE SHOOTING. He was turned loose. It was then that he killed his parents and went to the school cafeteria. (By the way, he too build a bunch of bombs that were wired to go at the house.)

The idea that more laws are going to solve the very real problems we have in this nation is absurdly naive. The only people such laws affect are those who obey laws. While I agree with John that some laws are violated routinely (like strawman purchases of handguns taken to a different jurisdiction), I have a hard time believing that new laws will make a real difference. (In the Oklahoma Post Office shooting a few years ago, the guns were from a National Guard Armory. The LIRR shooter bought his gun in California, underwent a 15 day waiting period and background check, lied on his application, illegally transported the gun across state lines, carried without a license, etc., etc., etc.) If laws were passed to absolutely ban the possession of all guns in the United States, do you think it would keep a dedicated person from getting one. Such laws have really worked with cocaine, haven't they?

I don't go to many gun shows, but I go every couple of years. The vast majority of guns sales in gun shows comply with the background check laws. That's a fact! Most of those selling guns at gun shows are FFL holders. The same laws apply at the gun show as at the shop. There are some non licensed people with tables. If they do it regularly, they are dealing without a license. They are breaking federal law. The legal tools exist to stop them. The only people really "slipping through the loopholes" are the occasion sellers of privately owned weapons. But those who propose the "gunshow laws" are quick to say, "We are not trying to ban all private sales. You can still sell a gun to your hunting buddy, or purchase one through a newspaper ad." If they tried to stop all private sales, the law would never have a chance and they know that. After the gunshow laws pass, will this be the next "loophole" you go after?

Firearms enthusiasts have said for years that "good people," like you, John, are trying to get all guns out of the hands of honest citizens of this country. If they can't get them all at once, they'll get them incrementally. Every law that fails to work creates the next set of loopholes which the next set of laws will close. But laws are words written on paper, and unless they are enforced, none of them will do any good.

Shooters are often accused of being hard headed and unyielding. The reality is that we have watched restrictions increase multifold since 1968, when anybody could buy cannon, shells for it, and almost any military ordinance they desired through the mail without registration or license. Things have degressed to a point where you are treated like a criminal if you want to purchase a .22 single shot rifle. In that by-gone day and age, I don't remember kids blowing up schools and shooting people. (I take that back. One kid did flush an M-80 down a school commode and wiped out half the plumbing in the building. It was not treated lightly.) Before you asked legitimate citizens to accept more restrictions on their lives, take a long hard look at the laws we already have and the ways they are being (or not being) enforced. Reasonable people may disagree with how guns ought to be regulated in our society, but when one side "gives" every time, and the other side "takes", it is hardly a compromise.

Walter Lee walt@crcom.net

Dear Jonathan:

It seems ludicrous to write a letter regarding my own article, but in view of subsequent events I include these at this stage to verify my view of the incempetence that exists at virtually every level of authority and government.

1. The state legislature has refused a $5 million grant-in-aid to help rebuild the district. By comparison, think of how many "smart" or "dumb" bombs" being dropped in Yugoslavia (regardless of what one personally feels about the cause) with the same amount of money. A handful max, I'd say.

2. Although the parents of Dylan Klebold have been interviewed by sheriff's investigators, those of the so-called "leader," Eric Harris have requested (and, thankfully, been denied) immunity. Makes one wish that Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," turned from fiction to reality.

3. Sheriff's deputy Mark Miller had investigated and ostemsibly made a report of pipe bombs being built by Harris and Klebold after their investigation for a van break-in. In a situation of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing, magistrate judge John DeVita (perhaps to cover himself for his own lack of investigation) said he would not have granted Harris and Klebold probation had he known of the pipe bombs, death threats given to other students, or their hate-filled Internet pages. Miller, as of this date, is unavailable for comment, so one doesn't know why the judge didn't see his report or if one was actually written. Such is public service.

Martin Siegel msiegel@apk.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

You wrote:

The school shooting incidents of the past year and a half raise a unique problem. The Second Amendment purists said after earlier incidents-- and I heard at least one say the same after Columbine--that the solution is to put more guns in the schools. If every teacher, the principal, every fellow student was armed, I suppose they could have blazed away at the killers (and incidentally, each other) until the whole thing was over. Its not any kind of school I would care to send my child to, and the body count might have been just as high.

JW, you can afford to be hypothetical but I wish at least some of those murder victims had a chance to defend themselves. I hope you still support the Bill of Rights. Paraphrasing Churchil, ours is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the rest.


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Lizard wrote:

(you know, the same God in whose name tens of millions were murdered in the Crusades and tortured in the Inquisition)


I won't argue your points about religion, but you should at least get your facts straight: How could the crusades or the inquisition have killed "tens of millions" when there weren't even "tens of millions" alive in Europe & the MidEast at that time?

Unless I'm very much mistaken, up until the 20th century the entire population of the world was less than 1 billion. And most of them were in India and China. Add to that the low level of military technology and I would be astonished if the Inquisition killed 10,000 people; or if the Crusades had 100,000 casualties.

Keep in mind, as well, that the really big slaughters in world history were committed by athiests: the Holocaust (6 million jews, 5 million catholics and assorted other "sub-humans" killed in the name of "genetic purity"), the killing fields of Cambodia, Stalin's purges, and the "cultural revolution". These all killed far more than men swinging poorly made iron swords ever could.

Mike Heinz MichaelHeinz@worldnet.att.net

Lizard replies:

Both the Crusades and the Inquisition took place over centuries of time. I may be wrong on the total death tolls;I should look them up.

You wrote:

Keep in mind, as well, that the really big slaughters in world history were committed by athiests: the Holocaust (6 million jews, 5 million catholics and assorted other "sub-humans" killed in the name of "genetic purity"), the killing fields of Cambodia, Stalin's purges, and the "cultural revolution". These all killed far more than men swinging poorly made iron swords ever could.

Calling God 'The State' does not an atheist make. The religious mindset, the belief in an overwhelming authority that cannot be questioned, permits the creation of such monstrosities. When you have someone conditioned to believe he must sacrifice himself for some nebulous future, changing that from 'heaven' to 'the workers paradise' is a trivial matter. Almost everything we associate with religion can be found in the USSR, China, and Nazi Germany -- icons, rituals, high priests, the works. The NAMES do not matter. (This is most evident in China, where images of Mao are venerated in much the same way images of the gods were/are).


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Libraries and schools are institutions of education and learning -- and funded by my tax dollars at that.

Please tell me why I should have my tax dollars going to allow 13-year-old Jimmy Jones to see Pamela Anderson give a head job to Tommy Lee. That's not educational in any way, shape, or form.

Penn Stater pennstat@epix.net

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I just read your piece on spectacle.org on censorware and its use in libraries. While I consider myself to be a 1st ammendment extremist I must ask you one question that was not clear in your essay.

If there was a way to prevent children access to these "inappropriate" web sites without infringing on the rights of adults, would you be in favor of limiting childrens options?

You see, I see a simple way to avoid the risks you mention.

By requiring that a librarian unlock PCs prior to any use we could carefully avoid all of these pitfalls If an adult requested the use of an internet attached PC, the librarian would unlock it with no restrictions. If a child requested a PC, it would be unlocked with restrictions.

This would eliminate the chilling effect and allow protection for children.

Accordingly, If an adult arrived with a child, the computer would be unlocked without restriction, in observance of the parents ultimate right to censor what a child sees.

Better yet. Assign login and passwords to users. (Issued with Library Cards.) Control browsing via access lists. Just like businesses do.

What do you think.

Best regards,

Donald Mei dmei@dataprofit.com

Dear Jonathan:

Congratulations on this wonderful message... I hope that we can get the FCC (and indeed, the government as a whole) out of the censorship business.

It's especially outrageous and repugnant when money gouged from telephone users is used as a governmental crowbar to try to force libraries and schools to censor the sites viewed by their students and users!!! It's one thing to make it possible economically for them to provide access... it's quite another when that access is artifically skewed by political concerns. :-(((((

This is just as repugnant as the federal government taking gasoline sales tax money from the states, and then offering to give (some) of it back if the states enforce that hated, finally-gone 55mph speed limit. :-((

I wish you the best of luck... what can we as voters do to help?


An Auschwitz Alphabet

Dear Jonathan,

Your web site "An Auschwitz Alphabet" really helped me with a term paper I wrote for my english course! I just wanted to say thanks! Sincerely,


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for what you are doing. I'm not Jewish - actually a Christian - but I have been reading more and more recently about the holocaust. And I agree: we simply must make the whole world aware of what evil wants to do, and will if we let it. And, perhaps more profoundly, we must speak on behalf of those who cannot, who were denied: we must bear their testimony to the world.

I'm sure you've come across it, but Antony Gill's book "The journey back from hell" I consider one of the best by an "outsider". I recently lent it to friend of mine - whose parents escaped Germany in 1939. As to my faith - I struggle to work out why. This evening my eight year old daughter expressed the view that in regard to recent murder in London, "really it's God's fault. If he knows when someone is going to die why doesn't he stop it?" My goodness: what profundity. And yet, not all emerged faithless from that hell on earth. And I too find myself still holding on to my belief in a loving heavenly father (sorry - I hope this doesn't offend you; I'm not trying to preach, just explain). But, I admit, it doesn't add up, and I cannot understand why it was allowed to happen. Yes we can blame the Allies for doing next to nothing, but is there not a higher responsibility too?

Thank you again,
Simon Pickhaver simon@pickhandle.freeserve.co.uk

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just wanted to tell you how informative and quite real your site is. I have a research report about the Holocaust (specifically the concentration camps) for history right now and I found that your site is specific, detailed and exactly what I need to make my report effective and true. Thank you, and as a Jew myself, thank you for making the public remember this horrible event.


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you very much for assembling this site which I came across yesterday and have only just managed to finish reading today.

I have read widely and deeply on this whole period (as I am hoping to start my PhD in the area sometime next year) and am very familiar with most of your sources. Yet reading the accounts of this time, whether from the survivor's or perpetrators' perspective and the 'anaesthetized' productions of academics Never Ever Gets Easier.

One of the so called expressed reasons for learning and reading history is supposed to be for the enhancement of understanding and to ensure that the same "mistakes" are not continually repeated. This century provides ample testimony to that particular myth. For me personally, despite all my very extensive reading, satisfactory answers to:-

* "how can millions of people with so-called "moral" principles" and "independent minds and wills" covertly or overtly participate in genocide?


* "how can we ensure that genocide acts are never repeated in human history?

continue to haunt and elude me. I have been reviewing this century. Tragically these closing years have provided and continue to provide its epitaph. One can truly say that the 1900s was the Century of Genocide. Although Christian (and of German origin as my name indicates) I do find it hard to maintain a belief in God, given the events of this century and what is happening at this very moment in the Balkans. I'm even cynical enough to frequently think in despair, that our highly extolled "civilised" state can be summed up as being defined by Man's most outstanding contribution - the capacity of the human race to kill fellow humans on a faster, more savage and efficient scale than ever before. The 1800s saw the industrialisation of wealth and manufacture, the 1900s the industrialisation of Mass Murder.

I do most sincerely hope that you will continue to maintain this site and register it with all the main search engines, including subject specific history, philosophy and education search engines etc. When I have run searches for "Auschwitz" or other Holocaust material your site did not appear on the listed search results. I stumbled across it quite accidentally when surfing on a totally unrelated subject.

Best Regards,
Brunnhilde F.H. Healy bhealy@student.ecel.uwa.edu.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I stumbled upon it in a Dutch e-zine; as today is the day we think of our dead in all the wars since 1940 the sheer simplicity of the alphabet struck me.

This is the horror of which we allways say that it should never happen again and still:

and more and too many

I could cry for years

L.E.Sixma lesixma@introweb.nl

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Dinur Center for the Study of Jewish History, based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Out team has been setting up a web site that offers a variety of important links and research possibilities. I would like to inform you that your site An Auschwitz Alphabet has already been added to our Internet Resources in the Bibliography and Sources sub-sections:


Please visit our web site and come back to us with additional information or comments that will make the site more accurate and updated. The recognition of our efforts depends on availability of information given in our sites. We would thus also appreciate if you could add a Dinur Center link to your site.

You are also very welcome to join our Jewish History Ring.

For more information, check out its Home Page on: http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/dinur/ring/jewhistring.htm

Best regards,

Michael Rosenfeld
The Dinur Center for the Study of Jewish History
Hebrew University, Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Israel
Web Site: http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/dinur
Email: dinur@h2.hum.huji.ac.il

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Over a month ago, I first visited your website, which is interesting and informative. I am sending you a message now only because it is the end of the semester for me, and I have time to write.

Since you identify your ethnic and religious background, I feel that I should do the same. My father is of French-Canadian ancestry and my mother is a second generation Polish-American. My father was in the American Army in World War Two, and was in the Battle of the Bulge. During the occupation of Germany, he was a translator at the Displaced Persons Camp since he could speak both French and English. Although he does not like to talk about it, he translated for the U.S. Army officers when they were questioning people who were medically experimented upon. The only detail that I can remember is that he saw people who suffered burns from x-ray machines for they were forced to stand in front of the machine up to six hours at a time. Beyond that, he is reluctant to say anything else on the subject of the Nazi horrors that he had seen. (On the other hand, he is quite willing to talk about the castles that he visited in England before the D-Day Landing, as well as some of the antics fellow soldiers did in the army.)

I have been taking history classes at Central Connecticut State University, mostly in the Polish Studies Department. You may have heard of one of my teachers, Dr. Stanislaus Blejwas, who was on the board of directors for the Holocaust Musuem. This semester, I took another class in the Polish Studies Dept., "Between Literature, History and Politics: The Case of Poland," taught by Prof. Nowakowska of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. The class covered the literature of Poland mostly for the 19th and 20th centuries, including World War Two. Not until this semester did I hear of Tadeusz Borowski's "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen," so I am impressed that you have his work.

I do argee that Borowski's stories, which are based directly on his own life experience, "are frighteningly sardonic and cruel." However, Borowski's work is a work of fiction, and he is more complicated than your one sentence synopsis. In "Aushwitz, Our Home (A Letter)" in section VII, on page 132 of the paperback Penquin edition, is found the following quote:

"There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it."

Sounds like a quote or a motto from Amnesty International, doesn't it? I suggest that you read the entire section, which I think is goal of your website, not to let people forget. As Borowski writes on the same page,

"If the Germans win the war, what will the world know about us? They will erect huge buildings, highways...[and]... we shall be forgotten...."

When I say that Borowski wrote fiction, I question his telling of "The Death of Schillinger," pages 143-6 of the Penquin edition. In his story, the Sonderkommando are the men who drive the people to their deaths when the SS run in fright after a woman shot Schillinger dead. In Josef Garlinski's book, "Fighting Auschwitz," the death of Schillinger is recorded, but implies that the SS drove the people into the gas chamber, since he writes, "Some of the prisoners were killed by grenades and shot, the rest were gassed." (Page 286 of the Fawcett Crest paperback edition, 1975, Greenwich, Conn.) I doubt that the Sonderkommando were issued grenades and guns.

To aid in your critic of Borowski, you may want to read Chapter V of "The Captive Mind" by Czeslaw Milosz. The chapter entitled "Beta, the Disappointed Lover," is about Borowski. Milosz too has some interesting comments on Borowski, although I feel that he does not fully analyse his work. (You might as well know that the chapter entitled "Alpha, the Moralist" is about Jerzy Andrzejewski whose best WWII short story is "The Trial." Prof. Nowakowska told us in class that Andrzejewski's other work, which remains untranslated from Polish, is largely moralizing, sentimental trash.)

If you are really interested, among the first published short stories about the Nazi atrocities in Poland is "Prof. Spanner" by Zofia Nalkowska. In the style of Hemingway, the story is about an investigation after WWII about the war crimes Prof. Spanner committed at the Anatomical Institute, that is, the making of soap from dead human beings. The only English translation that I know is in "Introduction to Modern Polish Literature," edited by Gillon and Krzyzanowski, 1964, Twayne Publishers, New York.

I hope that I have helped you in some way in your pursuit of knowledge on such a controversal subject, and I would like to hear from you.


Albert J. Marceau
Student CCSU

Dear Jonathan,

I am not sure how old you are, or who you are, but after going through your website I feel that you deserve a huge thank you. Thank you for letting everyone fully aware of the horror which happened. Your "alphabet" was amazingly done and so imformative, that I almost felt sick to my stomach when reading some of the torture methods performed. Thank you for making history something that we should learn from. You did an amazing job.

Erin Everett

Dear Jonathan-

We just learned about the Holocaust in school. I'm in 10th grade and we are to do a research paper. I went on-line to research some information and I found your site. I love it. It is so moving and informative. You have a great page. Thank you for putting the information out there, because everyone should know about what a tragedy this was.

Tory Harper

Hi Jonathan,

My name is Karen. I haven't read through your alphabet yet, but I am intrigued by how you feel that there are a lot of people who are out there who feel that "the Jews killed our Lord." See, that is not the first time that I've heard that before! But ironically, I never got that message growing up in a Roman Catholic family where we went to church every Sunday, participated in catechism and went through all the required sacraments. In fact, the first I had heard of that was about a year ago when my husband (who happens to be Jewish) and I were deciding on how to do our interfaith ceremony. When I told him that in none of my catechism or upbringing was I raised to think that Jews were personally responsible for killing Jesus, it was a complete revelation to him that he in turn shared with his family. So, my question to you if you don't mind answering is why do you think that there are a lot of non-Jews who feel that Jews are responsible for "killing our savior". I am not an avid church-goer anymore, but I will share with you that during the Easter holy days when we do the re-enactments in church of what happened as Jesus was put to death, the congregation reads the part of the Jews (and is it not historically true that Jews did kill one of their own--Jesus was Jewish!?!) who go ahead and tell the Romans to kill Jesus. I always feel uncomfortable during this part of the Mass but the fact is that by reading this part we are taking some personal ownership of what happened, we become the ones for whom Jesus died for. We are not blaming others for "killing our savior" but we endure this because of the belief that Jesus died for our personal sins.

I will be interested in hearing your response. My husband couldn't give me a satisfactory answer as to where he got the idea that Christian/Catholics saw Jews as Christ killers. I am telling you that in addition to my upbringing, I've also never met a non-Jew who believed that statement either. As far as I see it, the people who belive that "Jews killed our savior" are a small minority who probably do not restrict their negative biases just to Jews.

I thank you for your time.

Karen slotnick@impulse.net

Schindlers' List

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I have to admit, I was a bit shocked by your 'bashing' of Spielberg's film (The Unconscious Hypocrisy of Schindler's List, vol 1, No 1), especially when coming from a Jew. In the beginning of the article you mention how a well done film would tell the story of the millions of Jews persecuted. I quote:

No-one, of course, would have gone to see an honest movie about the Holocaust. It would have been in German (or Czech, Polish, French, Dutch, etc.) with subtitles. It might begin with a middle-class Jewish family living comfortably in Germany in 1933. It would have tracked the changes in their life after Hitler's election; the events of Kristallnacht, November 10, 1938, as they are beaten up and their windows broken; their arrest and shipment to a concentration camp; at movie's end, they are gassed at Dachau; the final shot, smoke and ash billowing from incinerator smokestacks at night.

The description above is a typical example of how Jews were murdered. Jews died through numerous other ways. Why make a film that portrais events that are likely to be known by the majority? Then you continue:

Schindler's List is dishonest because the number of Schindlers in Germany, or for that matter anywhere in Europe, was so small as to be statistically insignificant. But Hollywood cannot tell the story of the everyday or mainstream, not the humdrum ordinary or, apparently, even the horrible ordinary. Hollywood must always be about exceptions. Its films cannot portray everyday work; the employee must defy his boss, quit his job or rob his company at gunpoint.

Excuse me, but I think that because the number of Schildlers is so small, that this particular event _must_ be documented so that people _know_ that among the Nazi beasts, there were some, very few, who had some humanity left in them. Let me also say that I don't particulary enjoy Hollywood films. I do agree that Hollywood tends to make films that are highly unrealistic, and not very believable. Even when making historical films, directors tend to 'fantasize the events'. Spielberg however, didn't make Schindler's List in the vain of his earlier films like Indiana Jones or ET. He made a highly realistic film, probably the best about WWII and the Holocaust in general. He and everyone involved depicted the atmosphere that these people had to go through. Some images were brutal, horrific, but he went along with history.

You also mention in your article the sequence with the little girl's red dress. You come to the conclusion that Spielberg used that sole color scene to later identify the girl as a martyr. So, what's wrong with that. In the beginning you were complaining that too much of the film is happy. And let me tell you were Spielberg came with the idea for that shot. In 1961, during the trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann, a survivor and witness described how he lost his wife and little daughter. The last time he saw them, was at the train station of a death camp - his daugher was wearing a red coat. When she had to go join her mother because she was to young to work (tht meant death btw), he could see her amid the others by her red coat. It was a very moving story, and I see no problem that Spielberg incorporated that into his film. Another quote:

And it is doubtful that the making of the movie has changed anything. Despite the hype, movies about the Holocaust (and better ones) have been made before. The ability of films to educate us morally, to change our lives, is more latent than potent.

I could agree with you. Maybe the reason that films cannot fully educate us is because they aren't so well made. But Schindler's List was not one of them. The film _did_ educate me, that I can sayfor sure, and it also made me aware of the past and of the things that should never happen again, and unfortunaltely continue to happen today (Kosovo is an example). I am not a law student, nor do I fancy myself in knowing anything about law. Nor am I Jewish. I am 20 years old and attend a community college. These opinions are mine, but I will be happy to debate them with you.

Thank you for your time,

Bogdan Damian sorin@kis.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am studying the Holocaust as well as other issues related to WWII, in addition to studying the Jewish faith and culture.

I realize that as a gentile I have no idea what it is like to be Jewish, as a Jew would have no idea what it is like to be otherwise. However, I believe that I am empathetic towards most people. I have always been deeply touched or horrified or hurt by others' feelings etc. That the holocaust ever happened hurts me to no end. It's as you said on one of your pages in your web site, it is depressing and makes one feel sick. Last night, in fact, I went home and wept because most of what I had been reading during the day was upsetting and horrific.

These things aside, I visited your web site with the hope that I would find greater understanding. I am planning to write a book and your web site was one of the many I visited for inspiration or guidance. I do not want to sugar coat anything.

However, I was rather offended by your view of Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg. While I do agree that liberty was taken with the accuracy of some facts, most of it was not so. In fact, I'd be willing to say that at least 98% of this movie was factual. I did not watch that movie and feel good after it. It was not a feel good movie. The end wasn't happy. It was exhausting. You mentioned that sometimes in the movie Oskar Schindler seemed to be nice and caring and at other times seemed to view "his Jews" as pets or property. Well that is not Hollywood, that is a fact. He was a war profiteer.

He was a member of the Nazi party. His original intention was not to save the Jews from anything, he just wanted to make money. He wanted to make a name for himself. He was a nobody who had some charisma and wanted to be rich. He was a philanderous and often drunk scheister who wanted as much as he could get for as little work and money as possible. I agree that the scene with the little girl was unnecessary and a bit overplayed. However I don't believe that Steven Spielberg's intention was to make her stand out so she wouldn't "blend in" with the other jews. This was still a movie, not a documentary. That part never happened, but Spielberg never claimed that it did. He was inspired by a story he was told by a holocaust survivor. As for the transformation of Schindler, I believe it was a rather petty way to present it. One minute he just wants money, the next after seeing one little girl he feels bad and wants to save them. That is a bit much. However, he never hated or disliked the Jews. He didn't think of it in those terms, he just wanted to make money. It went against his morals to just kill randomly or hurt for no reason. Once he realized exactly what was going on and that the people he had come to be friends with (such as Itzhak Stern [please forgive if that was misspelled]) were being hurt or killed, then it became more personal to him. So, his personality never really changed in reality, he just realized the severity of the situation as time moved on in the war.

Anyway, I don't mean to criticize, but feel that you were rather critical of a man who just tried to present one small part of the holocaust in a way that people could relate to. I don't believe Steven Spielberg intended it to be a 100% replay of the holocaust.

I wanted to also say that I did really appreciate and enjoy your site, as always it made me very sad and hurt and upset, but helped me understand a little more.

I hope I haven't offended you, that was not my intent. I just wanted to present my idea of what Schindler's List was supposed to be and what Spielberg meant.

Thank you for your time,
Most sincerely,
Allison M Ottey oallison@instadv.alumni.pitt.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace;

I just read a review entitled George Orwell Was Wrong on your website, and felt compelled to write in. I am currently reading 1984 on my free time, and it is a frighteningly powerful book that shows the gullibility of the human spirit. The author of the review seems to have missed a major point about the book, that Orwell was not refering to Communism per se in his criticism, although he uses it as the primary example. He was portraying how easy it is for a society, any society to have it's thinking controlled by the government. The Big Brother character is seemingly indicative of many propaganda images both real (Winston Churchill), and fake (Uncle Sam). He is trying to show us that we can't take what the government is telling us at face value, because they have alterior motives. War hatred was, and is, rampant in countries opposing each other. In WW2 people were taught that the Germans were evil, faceless monsters torturing Jews to death, and of course during the Japenees invasion of Pearl Harbour you had Americans of Japaneese dissent revoked of their rights and thrown into concentration camps on US soil becuase they looked like the enemy, even though many of these people were fiercly loyal to the US, it did not matter. The US government had fed propaganda to the masses who ate it up, and focused their hatred on that, and everthing the US did was right and good and just. We were the victims, or the saviors. In any case, it seems the author was focusing on the Communism aspects, while ignoring the suble message. All Society is affected by propaganda, not just the Germans who persecuted the Jews, or the Russians for being sucked into fake Communism, but in our own society. In England the outrage over the sinking of the HMS Lucitanea (I think) which was suposedly a first aid ship as claimed by the UK government and believed by it's peoples, or a secret weapon's ship as portrayed and believed by the Germans. Orwell was saying that everyone no matter the government, no matter the society, no matter the differences, are influenced by people who abuse their power for their own personal gain. Be careful what you believe, and find out the TRUTH, not what you are told is the truth, is what the message of the book is.

Anyways, I've rambled on enough as it is. Hope you don't mind some constructive criticism.

Mike Wilson drgnwng@yahoo.com


As a Clintonista, I am interested in your viewpoint regarding the Chinese espionage scandal which the news media is now attempting to spin in the best light for liberals.

In my opinion, though such espionage is always happening, Clinton has deliberately turned a blind eye to the Chinese theft of our nuclear weapons secrets. The reason is simple. They sent large cash contributions to his election campaign. They essentially "bought" him, and our nuclear secrets. The evidence seems to be overwhelming.

I mentioned this last year during the sex scandals, as a much more alarming sidelight to Clinton's regime than his sex crimes and perjury, however as we all know, sex sells, so the public is more interested in sex.

Could it be that our liberal president has committed treason? Sure. Nothing is beyond this man's potential when it comes to corruption. Still, you seem to defend him. How come?

Bob Wilson


I'm disappointed in you; you should at least check your facts. You say that no one ever checked if Jamal's gun had been fired, and that it was the wrong caliber. In fact, according to the Phila. Inquirer, it was shown to be the murder weapon. Second, Jamal's "mis-trial" has been repeatedly appealed all the way to the Pa. Supreme Court and, each time, the Court has ruled that there were insufficient irregularities to merit a new trial.

We Philadelphians are always astonished at how many people travel to Pa to defend this man. You should note that extremely few locals do so. About the only local public figure I can think of (who supports Jamal) is Ramona Africa - the surviving member of MOVE - a group nationally famous for shooting police officers.

Jamal has done an extremely good job of mobilizing the media to protect him; but Philadelphia has not been fooled - he shot a cop and bragged about it. While I oppose the death penalty on general grounds (and would like to see all death-row sentences commuted to life) I cannot see giving this man a new trial.

BTW - it's been a few years since you and I tangled over gun control; your site looks very good, I'm glad you've kept it up.

Mike Heinz MichaelHeinz@worldnet.att.net

Wallace replies:

From the Court TV Website, http://www.courttv.com/casefiles/mumia/guilty.html:

Nor is the physical evidence conclusive, although it may have looked that way to the jury. There was no definitive match, for example, between Jamal's gun and the bullet that killed Faulkner. And police could have gone a long way toward establishing whether or not Jamal was the killer by testing his hands, to determine whether he had recently fired a gun, and smelling his gun barrel, to determine whether it had recently been fired. They did neither.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hello. My name is Molly Griffith. I have just visited your web page and am curious about you. You seem to have been desperately searching to find out if God was real, and are now happy with your life, so are no longer searching. Is this true? I totally appreciate your logic and conclusions. They are very similar to my own, being a very logical thinker. I would like to share with you some insight I have acquired through personal experience. I would agree with you about God seeming to be a serial killer. Why else would there be such misery and death in the world. I read something recently from a believer, who had studied science and was avidly searching for answers as well. He got into a discussion with his science professor one day and came to the conclusion that sin and death in the world did not mean God caused it. He told the professor that there was no such thing as cold, just the absence of heat, and there was no such thing as death, but the absence of life. And God is a good loving God, but there are those in the world that choose to ignore his principles, and therefor have an absence of God. There is where the death part comes in. Because there are two sides to everything, good and bad. And God created the world, and us to love Him, but we get the privilege of choosing whether we want to believe in Him or not. That free will gives us the ability to truly be human. Otherwise we would all be like robots. But since we have a choice, there has to be another option. That's where the bad part comes in. Death is simply an absence of God = life. Without God, we have no hope of life. I did not believe in God because of a test similar to your pencil test. Perhaps you are right about that being arrogant and presumptuous, but God proved Himself to me to the point where I had no doubt in my mind that He exisisted. Not to say I stopped testing Him. On the contrary, I test Him everyday, but not with an arrogent "prove me wrong" attitude, but with a sincere longing to get to know Him better. You see, God is a loving, caring God. And He created us to have a relationship with Him. There are so many questions and confusions about what's and why's, but our mortal minds are just not able to comprehend the answers. We just need childlike faith. He has never failed me. He has met all of my needs. He has given me unexplainable joy, hope, peace, and love. There is no way to explain it, except that what the Bible says is true. And mere logic won't help, because God is outside of our realm of logic. But if we come to Him with sincerity of heart, truly to seek Him, we will find Him. He is just waiting for you to believe. I'll be praying for you and your brother.

In God's love,
Molly Griffith gmolly_@hotmail.com