November 22, 2007 was the 75th anniversary of the mass murder of up to 10 million Ukrainians by Stalin’s political police, the dreaded NKVD. This bureaucracy was the apogee of political correctness, murdering tens of thousands of farmers and small-town people because the region resisted collectivisation. The practice of mass political murder was initiated by Lenin immediately after Trotsky brought him to power. Stalin inherited and extended the practice and its apparatus.
Until after the Second World War the senior ranks of the NKVD were disproportionately Jewish. These were secular Jews who as good communists rejected divisions of ethnicity and race as products of bourgeois society. Nevertheless they retained their identity as Jews; they knew who their ancestors were.
Jews do not feel remorse for the Ukraine famine. They do not apologise for it. They do not point to it as a failing of the Jewish character or culture. That is an enormous inconsistency. For one thing Jews feel pride in the positive achievements of other Jews, whether religious or secular. But how can pride be ethnic and unconditional while shame is conditional and compartmentalised? Is it not inconsistent for someone to feel pride in the achievements of his ethnic group but to feel no shame for its failings?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn made a similar point in his last book, Two Hundred Years Together. Group pride goes hand in hand with group shame. He wrote: “[The] Jewish population should be as offended at their own role in the purges as they are at the Soviet power that also persecuted them.” Regarding white shame, our own Michael J. Polignano has argued cogently that those who condemn whites for the behaviour of other whites are implicitly admitting the case for white pride in the achievements of the West (Occidental Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 3-6).
I suppose inconsistency is one of the prerogatives of being human. However, in this case the inconsistency is larger than a failing of human nature because other ethnic groups and nations are not permitted to forget their sins, at least when they sinned against Jews. The Germans are taught by their media and schools to feel shame for the actions of a pagan secret service that murdered millions of Jews and Gypsies during the Second World War. Responsibility is levelled at Germans in general, not only pagans or those who supported Hitler’s extermination policy. The shame is ethnic and unconditional. Only German pride must be conditional and compartmentalised.
The same sort of general ethnic shame is taught to whites of many nations. It seems that we have all done something terrible at one time or another, whether it is colonialism, exploitation, discrimination, segregation, etc. And it is understood that “we” means fellow ethnics. The crime varies but the shame remains the same.
There is a good deal of truth to many of these accusations. The German state did commit the Holocaust. The British, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch and French states did displace native peoples in the Americas, Africa and Australasia. Blacks were discriminated against in the United States. Colonialism and ethnic expansion have their dark sides.
There is also some moral truth to the accusations, even if they are over generalised. But it is a conditional morality such that group identity combined with even vestigial pride makes it hypocritical to feel pride but not shame for group behaviour. A history of Germany that did not mention World War Two or the Holocaust would be rightly dismissed as propaganda. Can anyone imagine a history of the United States that did not admit the evils of slavery or Jim Crow?
But we don’t need to imagine a history of the Jews that fails to mention the Jewish role in the Bolshevik Revolution or in communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe in the post-WWII period or the attempted Bolshevik revolutions in Germany after the First World War or in Soviet espionage. Simply consult any of the seemingly endless parade of tribal histories, many produced by departments of Jewish studies at taxpayer-funded universities.
The inconsistency goes even further. Jewish organisations are as one in condemning Western societies, Western traditions, and Christianity, for past crimes against Jews. Yet they never talk about Jewish crimes.
It is difficult to say what the effect of this asymmetrical shame and shaming has had on the West’s ability to defend its interests in the culture wars; except that the effect has surely been negative. A level playing field will not be achieved until Jewish history texts, Holocaust museums, and Jewish Studies departments make the same effort at self-knowledge and self-shaming that Jews have urged on non-Jewish nations.
Charles Dodgson is the pen name of a social analyst living in England.