Howard Zinn was asked to speak to a Jewish group on the topic of the Holocaust while he was teaching at Boston University in the 1980’s. The anticipated topic from the faculty was WWII and the genocide of 6 million Jews. Instead he ended up speaking about the US-supported death squads in Central America that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peasants in Guatemala and El Salvador, victims of American Policy.
There was an article published a week later that was a strong objection to extending the moral issue of Jews in Europe during the war to people in other parts of the world in our current time. The article claimed the Holocaust was a unique event and the author was outraged that since Zinn was invited to speak about the Holocaust, instead he spoke of other matters.
Zinn’s point is that the memory of the Holocaust should not be encircled by barbed wire. It should not be morally ghettoized, that is: kept isolated and separate from other atrocities in history. Why? Because to remember what happened to 6 millions Jews serves no important purpose unless it arouses the indignation, anger and action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world.
At the core of the memory of the Holocaust is a horror that should not be forgotten. But around that core, whose integrity needs no enhancement, there has grown up an industry of memorialists who labor to keep the memory alive for purposes of their own. Such as:
Preserving one’s identity, Zionist thought uses the memory to justify Israel’s war on Palestine. And politician can be seen in the course of history to use the memory for voter influence. When understood in this context, the awful event is truly ghettoized.
Now, replace the statements I’ve just written with 9/11 in place of the word Holocaust.
To build a wall of uniqueness around 9/11 (or the Holocaust, or Iraq, or Vietnam) is to abandon the idea that humankind is all one, that all people are deserving of equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If we are to take seriously any admonition that 9/11 was “Unacceptable” we must ask ourselves (as we observe other atrocities in the world around us) if we are using the argument as a beginning or and end to our moral concern.
This is why TZM in not a 9/11 movement. What happened to the citizens of the US from 9/11 (or the Jews of the Holocaust of WWII) is unique in its details, but it shares universal characteristics with many other events in human history. (ie. The Atlantic Slave Trade, the genocide of the American Indians, and the injuries and deaths of millions of working people who have been victimized by capitalist ethos, that put profit before human life.
The outcomes themselves, if taken as ALL unacceptable outcomes, then a question must be brought forth as to how can society create better outcomes? And that’s where the conversation from The Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project and a Resource Based-Economy comes in. We are not here to fight with the establishment, or to be anti-anything, but to encourage a bio-social pressure via awareness and education about the root-causes of the outcomes themselves.