Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Those who learn the wrong lessons from history are condemned to repeat their ignorance. Take Fr Rod Bower:
Standing with Comrade in Alms @FatherBob What we have done on #Manus does not necessarily lead to the #Holocaust but it is a necessary step on the path to that particular hell. Full comment here: https://t.co/eV8h0LntFN #Auspol @chriskkenny @AlexanderDowner pic.twitter.com/mj0wL7bj1w
— Fr Rod Bower (@FrBower) December 31, 2018
Father Bob “the Larrikin priest”, in turn, had an even more bizarre statement to make:
The tweets with haunting photos of Auschwitz camp remind me of tweeted photos of refugees detained Manus.
— FatherBob (@FatherBob) December 25, 2018
If you are indeed so reminded, I can recommend a few dozen history books to read to make sure that in the future you are not so reminded. Any comparison between on the one hand a concentration and a death camp in which some million people were either worked or gassed to death in the pursuit of the eradication of the Jewish people in Europe and on the other hand a detention facility for people trying to enter Australia in the process of shopping around for the best asylum destination in the world is just so historically illiterate and so grotesquely insulting to the memory of the Holocaust that one wonders how anyone can make it with sincerity and straight face. Father Bob apparently does, which leaves me wondering instead about either his moral compass or his intellect or both. One can well disagree with particular immigration policies and even think them evil without having to trivialise the mechanised murder of 6 million Jews plus millions more of Gypsies, Slavs and other subhumans and undesirables. Not everyone you disagree with is Hitler, not every policy you oppose is the Holocaust, not qualitatively, not qualitatively, not morally.
That Father Rod would jump to Father Bob’s support is not particularly startling by comparison. Bower can be counted to support pretty much every left wing position on any issue, however remotely it can be tied to religion. Hence, “Manus is how Holocaust started”. But lest we roll our eyes again at the invocation of the Final Solution to describe a Liberal government’s policies, Bower quickly goes on to explain that “Manus does not necessarily lead to the Holocaust but it is a necessary step”. By that Fr Rod probably means that if you don’t treat people nicely it might eventually escalate to something worse – or as the Auschwitz museum puts it:
When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It's important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 26, 2018
Well, yes, but… Historical events like the Holocaust – or for that matter Stalinist Red Terror, Mao’s Great Famine, or crusades, slavery, colonialism, industrial revolution, and whatever else you look at – have dozens of causes, preconditions and contributing factors, all of them “necessary”. Singling one for the purposes of analogising with the present serves no useful purpose except to reveal one’s historical ignorance and/or political insincerity.
To say that Manus is how Holocaust started is as stupid as to say that Fr Bower is how Jonestown started, in a sense that the mass cult suicide in a Guiana jungle would not have happened without a socialist religious figure behind it (as Rev Jones was). I’m not expecting 20 woke Gosford Anglican parishioners drinking Cool Aid (not literally, in any case) in the church hall anytime soon, and neither should you (or, for that matter, wish so).
There is no doubt that the Holocaust would not have happened if not for the German anti-Semitism. But if that was all there was to it, the Holocaust would not have happened, as it did not happen in any other place or time previously or since. There were other “necessary steps”, including but not restricted to the Nazi ideology, Hitler’s specific personality and philosophy, replacing democracy with a totalitarian state, militarisation of the society, and the invasion and occupation of Poland and the Soviet Union in a course of a global conflict.
Yet Fr Rod perseveres:
The first step on the way to the Holocaust was labelling the Jews as ‘vermin’ to be eradicated. In Rwanda they used the term ‘cockroaches’ we have used the label ‘illegals’. The second step is to ensure these ‘labelled’ inhabit a different civic universe and do not qualify for the same ‘rights’ as we do. The third step is to lock them up.
We have taken these three steps with refugees in Australia and while they do not inevitably result in catastrophic events like the Holocaust, they are the necessary first three steps on the path to that living Hell on Earth.
Well, I’m very glad to hear to Australia’s immigration and border protection policy will not inevitably result in… what? Australia exterminating everyone who wants to migrate to Australia? Australia invading neighbouring countries and genociding peoples there because they might be potential migrants? Again, the comparisons are so out of proportion they are simply jarring, including the most basic one between preventing people from getting out so they can be murdered en masse and preventing people from getting in. Manus is not how the Holocaust started. The Holocaust is how the conversations about Manus stop.