I'll just highlight what I perceive to be the main idiocy here. And mention that I found the Republican "insult" to not be insulting at all. We live in an era of "you're not allowed to talk about what my grandfather went through if I don't agree with you politically and I'll call you a racist/bigot/sexist/philanderer/chauvinist/whatever, because your toes are touching the grass I call hallowed". Hence my reticence to possibly malign the idiots who live in cellophane houses and piss on those of us "unlucky" enough to have witnessed the Holocaust (not that I did, I'm 40). I can still reference Tonya Harding, can't I?
Friday, March 18, 2005 · Last updated 4:49 p.m. PT
Republican leader apologizes for Holocaust remarks during stem cell debate
By REBECCA COOK ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State House Minority Leader Bruce Chandler apologized Friday for remarks other Republicans made earlier in the week comparing embryonic stem cell research to the Holocaust.
"The references made to the Holocaust were regarded by some, understandably, as insensitive and inappropriate," Chandler, R-Granger, said on the House floor.
However, one of the representatives who made such a comparison said he did not mean to disparage the mass murder of Jews in Hitler's Germany, and saw no reason to apologize personally.
Chandler said he'd spoken with Jewish community leaders about the stem cell debate. "I offer my apologies to them and to people who have committed their lives to using science to improve humanity."
Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, who sponsored the bill endorsing embryonic stem cell research and who is Jewish, said she believed Chandler's apology was heartfelt, sincere and appropriate.
"We need to take this as an opportunity now to continue to educate and inform," Schual-Berke said.
"I don't know anyone who thinks the horrible events of the Holocaust were anything but an affront to humanity," she added. Comparing the murder of 6 million Jews to stem cell research, she said, "is just unthinkable."
Schual-Berke's bill passed by a vote of 59-36 in the House after an emotional, sometimes tearful debate late Tuesday night. A couple of Republican representatives - not Chandler - referred very obliquely to the Holocaust, but Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, drew the most direct comparison.
"Life sciences, biotech research - it sounds warm, sounds progressive. The potential is there, we hope, we're betting on it," Anderson said Tuesday on the House floor. "But the cold look of history really does require sobriety. Sixty years ago in Nazi Germany, it was state policy in order to perfect humanity it would be required to destroy humanity. And the medical experiments at Auschwitz were carried out for that explicit purpose. We all say no, that's not us, that would never happen, that's not why we're doing this." [blogger's note: I actually like the tone of care given here. He states later that he voted in favor of the law, but asks for vigilance so that this research will not be abused. It is exactly what I argued for here in California while getting ready to vote for our own embryonic stem cell research law.]
Schual-Berke leapt to her feet and objected, and House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, quickly called for a break to let both sides cool off. They returned about 15 minutes later and passed the bill after more debate.
The embryonic stem cells in question come from human embryos created through in-vitro fertilization. The embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted. Researchers believe this research may someday lead to cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes.
Anderson did not apologize on Friday, and told reporters he saw no need to do so. He voted for the stem cell bill, and said he meant his comments as a warning that as Washington state encourages stem cell research with its possible applications of genetic engineering, it should not "drift down that road" that led to the Holocaust.
"This is not about any diminishment of that experience," Anderson said. "It's about actually honoring that experience as we move forward."
Comments such as Anderson's trivialize the Holocaust, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The Holocaust was a uniquely horrific event, he said, so any comparison inevitably cheapens the memory. [blogger's note: If it's so damned unique I think you should be glad to have people reference it in order to keep its memory alive. But it seems you want it all for yourselves. An anti-Semite might agree with you and tell you to keep Christ's death as well.]
"I understand people use it to get the shock effect," Foxman said. "Either they are totally ignorant about what the Holocaust was all about, or they're insensitive, or they're bigoted." [Blogger's note:No, we are not all any of the above. Quit claiming sole ownership to something that affected many more people than just you and yours. I understand the Holocaust, I know what happened and why. I am not insensitive. But i know a need when I see one to relate the horrors of that experience to what may now be going on or to help show the dangers of what could happen to something in the now if we don't take heed and guard against it.]
Foxman said he believes inappropriate references to the Holocaust are becoming more common as the event recedes into history and connections to actual Holocaust survivors and victims fade over time. [Blogger's note: Inappropriate references may be popping up more frequently. I don't know. I think i've seen racists and bigots misuse the Holocaust fairly evenly throughout my 40 years in terms of frequency. What I do know is inappropriate defense of the memory is popping up much more frequently. As if the farther certain segments of our society get from the actuality of the event, the more afraid they get of their children forgetting it. That may be so. I don't know. But it doesn't make a case for condemning others for using it as a learning or warning tool.]
Earlier this month the Anti-Defamation League criticized U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., for comparing a Senate GOP plan to block Democrats from filibustering to the tactics Hitler used in his rise to power. [Blogger's note: Again, why the bristling? Did Byrd bring up the Holocaust? Evidently not. He brought up certain fascist attempts to exert power at the expense of the people and the nation. The Anti-Defamation League does have a problem with Byrd rooted in history. Byrd has not always been the champion of civil rights. But he has, in recent years, stood up and apologized for it and promised to make up for it. Let it go and listen to what he is saying. He is comparing the current Republican party to the Nazis- an accusation I could make after 30 minutes on the Internet.]
Washington state Jewish leaders plan a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday to emphasize that the Holocaust shouldn't be used as a rhetorical device.
"We're going to try to use this as an educational opportunity," said Remy Trupin, lobbyist for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. "You're talking about science, about a bill, and you're talking about the systematic extermination of the Jewish people and of other people. You have to be very careful with that history and honor that history."[You should also be careful about appropriating history for yourself and locking everyone else out. There are many instances throughout recorded and unrecorded history that are as horrific and worse. The only people I hear whining about theft of pain is the German Jew. That reads as callous, but it is not from where I sit. I will never forget what happened. I will always tell what I know to those who don't. But I hate it when anyone puts up fences around a memory and says "hands off".]