John Loftus Comments on Elie Wiesel
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
Oral History Item Type Metadata
This is from Newsweek. I like Elie Wiesel, but reading his article in the April 12, 1999 edition of Newsweek, I think he makes two points, one with which I agree and one with which I seriously disagree. He is saying that what’s happening in Kosovo is not a Holocaust. Yeah, that’s right. I mean, the Serbs aren’t intentionally organizing the mass murder of Muslims or the mass murder of all Albanians. That’s what the Holocaust was. There are many types of genocide in every ethnic group, but only one has people ever said, “Let’s extinguish this entire part of the gene pool forever.” Milošević, as bad as he is, is not doing that. The point that Elie’s making is—he says, “In my view, genocide is the intent and the desire to annihilate a people.” No, that’s a holocaust, with the intent and desire to annihilate. That happened to the Jews. That’s a very rare form of genocide. Most of the time, genocide is just what you see in Kosovo: we want the land back, and they’re terrorizing and murdering people to force them to move away. It’s just what the Turks did to the Armenians. We call that a genocide. And I think what Milošević and his paramilitary forces are doing today in Kosovo is a classic from of genocide.
I think I learned that there were three great evils of the twentieth century: communism, fascism, and indifference, and indifference is the deadliest of the three. We teach the kids, you know, there are victims, perpetrators, and bystanders in every genocide. It’s the bystanders that tear my heart up. They’re the ones that do the most damage. We have a lovely quote from Elie Wiesel in front of our museum, where he talks of how the bystanders cause the victims the most pain. I guess it takes a hundred people to kill each child: ninety-nine to shrug their shoulders, one to throw the child into the pits. And it is indifference. Do we have calluses on our souls now? Have we seen so much killing on television that we’ve become numbed? Do we turn away? I hope that we are raising the standards of civilization inch by inch. First was Nuremberg, and then Rwanda and Bosnia. We must stand against dictators who would slaughter children of other ethnic groups. We’ve got to stop genocide before it spreads.