Why Do We Give a Pass to Evil?
An interesting essay on the dangers of selective outrage, from
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman.
Why Do We Give a
Pass to Evil?
August 4, 2012
I recently wrote an editorial about Genocide, with its long trek
through history-but one of my colleagues noted that I had not
mentioned the USSR, one of the worst human rights offenders ever. My
friend, Swedish human rights attorney Bertil Haggman, compiled the
violent death statistics of the USSR from 1917 to 1982: The
Communist Genocide (in Swedish), ten years before the demise of
the Soviet Union. Haggman estimated about 104 million dead in his 1982
book; now the numbers are known to be closer to 150 million victims
and he is updating and translating his book. No doubt the Nazis would
have approached like numbers had they ruled for 75 years rather than
Haggman notes that in a 2007 opinion poll in Sweden, 95 percent of
Swedish children knew about the Jewish Holocaust, but 90 percent knew
nothing about the Soviet labor and concentration camps. Why have
the Soviets been given such a pass?
In 1932-33, a famine was raging in the Ukraine, a famine that Stalin
created and ruthlessly carried out to punish uppity peasants and an
incipient independence movement. His thugs confiscated the entire
grain production of the Ukraine and dumped it on the world market,
deliberately starving 7 to 10 million Ukrainians. Western journalists
were ferried around by the Soviets, who prevented them from seeing
anything damaging. The German Consul in Kharkiv and journalists Gareth
Jones and Malcolm Muggeridge tried to blow the whistle on this horror,
but were scorned by the mainstream press, and most shamefully, by the
falsifications of New York Times journalist, Walter Duranty.
The Communists did a much better job of sowing propaganda among
gullible idealists than the Nazis, whose message was only too clear to
liberals. World War II, in which the Soviets were our allies against
the Nazis, gave them more breathing space to do what they did without
criticism. The heavy-handed Un-American Activities Committee of the US
Senate was too obnoxious to convince idealists; it took the surprising
revelations of Soviet Premier Khrushchev to finally open the curtain
that had hidden the reality of Stalin and his genocides. It was very
painful for western Communists to admit they had been duped into
believing in an imaginary utopia.
When we see the tally of Communist slaughters, the list includes not
just the Soviet Union, but China, Soviet satellites, and other Marxist
states such as North Korea, most of which have used starvation as a
weapon. It is astonishing to think of how much of a pass they are
given by our press and educational institutions.
Our presidents are always keen on human rights. Their programs,
however, are out of necessity selective and thus hypocritical. A
president learns that moral positions sometimes conflict with
practical considerations; he cannot just condemn bad actors uniformly.
It was much easier to look moral condemning some of our allies who
were military dictatorships (Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea) than to
condemn autocracies that had oil, such as the Saudis or Iraqis.
The same thing is true for "Amnesty International," which is
constrained to condemn only those countries that give them access.
Amnesty has always been much more critical of human rights abuses in
the West, with more criticism of Israel than of Burma, Sri Lanka, or
Saudi Arabia. They have rarely condemned hideous Muslim practices
directed against women, an issue that is left for both feminist groups
and the U.S. State Department in their annual list of the worst human
There are holocausts going on today that appear to be getting a pass.
Can anyone estimate the death toll for women in the Muslim world and
Africa? Who is counting, and who dares to try to count? When European
newspapers bend over backwards to avoid identifying arrested
"terrorists" or the names of "honor killers" and rampant child
abusers, we must wonder why they are giving such monsters a
Apparently it is
politically incorrect to identify some monsters while others get all
the attention. The monsters get away with it because they
Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of How Do You