The Claremont Independent quotes Jonathan Petropoulous on the ethical implications of his dealings with a former Nazi and his attempted -- but apparently legal -- extortion of a Holocaust survivor.
In his March 11 email, Petropoulos responded to questions of ethics. "I have thought a great deal about ethics," he wrote. "In this particular instance, [I] discussed the matter at length with long-time CMC Professor John Roth, a world-renown expert on the ethical implications of the Holocaust."Petropoulous might want to reconsider playing the Roth card. Twenty years ago John Roth was embroiled in a scandal of his own when he compared the Nazis to the Israelis. Eight years prior he compared the election of Ronald Reagan to the climate of fear and economic turmoil that surrounded pre-World War II Germany.
George Will has more on this story in his masterful With a Happy Eye But... America and the World 1997-2002 in a section entitled "The Hijacking of the Holocaust."
I quote Will on p. 106-107.
John Roth, philosophy professor at Claremont McKenna College and designated director of the museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, apologizes for a 1988 essay he says "created the impression" that he considered Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in Israel comparable to the Nazis' treatment of Jews. Here is what he said on the fiftieth anniversary of the Nazis' 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom: "Kristallnacht happened because a political state decided to be rid of people unwanted within its borders. It seems increasingly clear that Israel would prefer to rid itself of Palestinians if it could do so.... As much as any other people today, [the Palestinians] are being forced into a tragic part too much like the one played by the European Jews fifty years ago."Maybe Petropoulous should think twice before suggesting John Roth is "a world-renown expert on the ethical implications of the Holocaust. John Roth has a thing or two to answer for with his ready use of the Nazi analogy.
Roth did rather more than just "create the impression" he now regrets. He is not wicked; he loves Israel, where he has taught. However, his careless writings reflect the slovenly thinking of a drearily familiar kind. It is the thinking of someone who has been too much marinated in the flaccid leftist consensus of the campuses, where reckless rhetoric enhances prestige.
He exploited the Holocaust for vulgar rhetorical effect when the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan moved him to remember "how forty years ago economic turmoil has conspired with Nazi nationalism and militarism . . . to send the world reeling into catastrophe that virtually annihilated the Jews of Europe." Then, after coyly denying "clear parallels" between America in 1980s and Germany in the 1930s, he slyly implied parallels: "Still, it is not entirely mistaken to contemplate our postelection state with fear and trembling."
In an interview with USA Today during the 1988 campaign, he complained that the candidates were not addressing the problems of the poor and asserted a similarity to Nazi persecutions: In Nazi Germany, he reportedly said, education professionals allowed themselves to ignore what was happening to the Jews.
As a side question, isn't it interesting that we're asking questions of judgment of both directors of the Holocaust Center?