“Children of the Holocaust” and Stem Cell Research

I’m going to NYC this weekend, and I was wondering what I would leave on the autoblogger thingee (I really do like that ScienceBlogs feature). Fortunately, some idiocy regarding stem cells came bubbling up from the comments.

The commentor writes:

I find it incredible that a child of holocaust survivors would be so dismissive of those who have concerns about experimentation on humans, even if they are embryos.
Sure, you think they are wrong, but your baseless arrogance and attitude of superiority to them is, well, just stupid.

This is then followed by his(?) usual screed about the immorality of scientists (…so why do you come to ScienceBlogs? But I digress). What I love is the phrase “a child of holocaust survivors.” First of all, while I’m Jewish, I’m not the child of holocaust survivors–the Nazis, to the best of our knowledge, exterminated everyone in my family who didn’t leave Europe.
But the phrase “a child of holocaust” is quite telling about how this commentor (who usually takes conservative Christian positions) views Jews: as victims of the Holocaust. Not as a different religion with its own views of when life starts (in Judaism, the first month is “as water” and is not considered alive. Because the embryos are destined to be destroyed and will not be implanted, any potential of becoming alive is null, and consequently, there is no issue using these embryos).
Anyway, I’ve blogged about this before, so I’ll leave you with this post from the archives about this subject:
I’ve written elsewhere about the conservative opposition to stem cell research. What I neglected to mention is that conservatives often refer to stem cell research as a holocaust. (This is often done with the abortion issue too). This week, Republican candidate Michael Steele, emerging from the right-wing thought bubble, decided to voice this comparison in front of a Maryland Jewish group. Here’s one reaction, and one that I think is par for the course (I’ll explain afterwards; italics mine):

This is what Republican Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele said about stem cell research to the board of the Baltimore Jewish Council:

“You of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool.”

You goddamn motherfucking sonofabitch. You dirty, filthy, rotten scumbag. That you would dare, DARE make this comparison tells me that you are a warped, crippled, self-hating human being. You think nothing through, you say anything for political gain, you have no sense of right and wrong and decency.
Let me put it another way. My father is a Holocaust survivor. My fiancee has Type I diabetes. Do you think for a fucking SECOND that my dad doesn’t want to see stem cells used to cure the love of my life?
Of course not, you fucking asshole. You don’t know what my father – “of all folks” – knows, but I’ll tell you. He hates to see life cut short. His father was murdered – murdered! – when my dad was just 11 years old. He’d hate more than anything if my bride-to-be was taken from me prematurely because of illness – especially if something could have been done to prevent it. You not only fail to understand that, but you presume the opposite.
A rabbi once told me something very interesting. In Jewish tradition, if you harm someone, only that person can forgive you. Not a rabbi, not God, not someone else – only the person you’ve wronged. Michael Steele, you’ve desecrated the memory of people who can no longer speak. Only they may forgive you. But I don’t expect you’ll ever be able to ask them for forgiveness, because I don’t believe you’ll be joining them up in Heaven.

And you thought the Mad Biologist was Mad.
According to Jewish religious law, an embryo less than a month old is not alive, and is definitely not equal to a murdered human being. The idea that a murdered human being is equal to something that according to Jewish law “is as water” is profane. Additionally, the ignorant assumption that Judaism is just like Christian fundamentalism is offensive.
The other major point is that Christian conservatives gloss over the history behind the Holocaust. I rarely claim to speak for others, but I’m going to go out on a limb and do so. In my opinion, many Jews think that 1500 years of religiously based anti-Semitism based in Christian doctrine was a significant factor that led to the Holocaust. This not to say that other factors weren’t important: obviously, they were. But the Holocaust was not solely due to generic Acme ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ spontaneously arising in 1933. There was a long history of brutal oppression based on Christian doctrine predating the Holocaust.
This creates a lot of problems for conservative Christians when they speak to Jews: we see their religious fanaticism, and at some basic level, many of us recoil. Not only did most Jewish families in the country lose members in the Holocaust, but their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents often fled brutal mistreatment (not to mention rape and murder) that was spawned by religious bigotry and fanaticism. There’s a reason Jews reacted so vehemently against the movie The Passion of the Christ: many pogroms happened around Easter as ‘revenge’ for the death of Jesus. There is a basic problem here for Christian conservatives, which is, that in the Jewish mind (and I think any honest history of the Holocaust), Christianity is not ‘guilt-free.’ To date, American Christian conservatives have not addressed the role Christianity played in creating the necessary preconditions for mass murder (on the other hand, Catholicism has addressed this issue rather well).
So just imagine how disgusting it would be for someone who, at some instinctive level reminds you of those who oppressed you for so long, and redefines your religious beliefs for you, to compare a clump of cells to the extermination of European Jewry. And they wonder why Jews vote overwhelmingly Democratic…

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23 Responses to “Children of the Holocaust” and Stem Cell Research

  1. Agent of Goldstein says:

    Extermination always starts with the weakest subjects.
    Since you are talking about the Nazis, they started with the elimination of the mentally “defective” and infirm before they got to the full blown program.
    But how about this? A lot of eggs and sperm are going to be, admittedly, “unused”. So why not set up factories where people could donate those extra eggs and that extra sperm and just start making embryos?
    Think of all the good that could be done with them!
    Kind of like the factories in Brave New World.
    I mean, considering how human beings have used all scientific advances to infailingly do good for humanity, what could possible go wrong?
    Just wondering.

  2. skunqesh says:

    Hi Agent Goldy, this is Agent skunq,
    Would you kindly consider consolidating all your multiple personalities for the sake of clean clear discussion, otherwise ya sound, well, kinda nutty. (i know – using a skunk identity is odd, too, but it’s an inside joke). Anywayz, if you continue posting as differently named agents, disciples, squads, etc it only reinforces that assessment.
    aaand – just to get the ball rollin’ – what, exactly, does the word ‘science’ mean to you? From your previous posts you seem quite hostile towards education or folks with degrees, or basically anyone who uses reason. Did Sister Sasha Panen Diaz whack ya one too many times with the Golden Ruler back in school?
    Jus wonderin’
    yourn truly,

  3. JB says:

    The Agent of Goldstein is well known in this area, as one of a member of a group that calls themselves “The Anti-Atheists.”
    Actually, I think there are only four of them, and at least two are low level undergrads.
    Of course, this does not stop them from expostulating as experts on every subject you can name!
    However, as far as your ad hominem attacks go, skungesh, do you actually have a question?
    I think the punk has a point. “Extermination always starts with the weakest subjects.”
    So whats the beef?

  4. Hyperion says:

    *But how about this? A lot of eggs and sperm are going to be, admittedly, “unused”. So why not set up factories where people could donate those extra eggs and that extra sperm and just start making embryos?*
    Personally, I’d be a little more concerned about what happens to the sperm and ova in university dorm rooms (catalyzed by ethanol), than what happens to sperm and eggs in a university lab. This is actually one area where I can guarantee you the scientists couldn’t screw things up any more than ordinary human beings already do, every single day.
    And what about the millions of lonely ova and sperm consigned to death in tissues and tampons every day in this country? Why do you speak out for zygotes while allowing them to suffer this ignomy in silence! Oh, the humanity!
    on a more serious note:
    *I rarely claim to speak for others, but I’m going to go out on a limb and do so. In my opinion, many Jews think that 1500 years of religiously based anti-Semitism based in Christian doctrine was a significant factor that led to the Holocaust.*
    Your goyim readers probably consider this too harsh…on the other hand, I might have gone one step further and said that the Holocaust was a part of that 1500 year history of pogroms, the only difference was that it was the first truly industrialized pogrom. It could just as easily have originated in Italy or Russia or Spain (as it on numerous occasions during the previous 1500 years). The only difference was that Hitler has the kind of industrial technology that Tourqemada couldn’t even have imagined.
    But then again, that’s also why so many non-Jews don’t understand the fear that such a thing could easily happen again.

  5. Robster says:

    Mike, I was of the thought that Hebrew law went further than “is as water.” IIRC, a fetus isn’t even considered a seperate person from the mother until the “quickening” (when the fetus begins to move, 2nd trimester). Thus, injuring a pregnant woman, causing her to have a miscarriage is considerred an act only against the mother up until the quickening. Even then, the fetus is not considerred a whole person according to the law.
    It always makes me laugh when fundie Christians call their views biblical when it their views don’t mesh with the old law.

  6. tiredtiredtired says:

    Dear Agent of Goldstein ,
    Since the job you described is as close as this society will ever permit to the job a deadsouled bu–sh– like yourself REALLY desires, I’m very sure you would be one of the first to volunteer for the “disposal” units.
    (And how come I only hear from assholes like you on the internetm, and NEVER in their “talk may have consequencess” meat-forms?)

  7. skunqesh says:

    Howdy JB,
    Forgive my naivete’ – I’ve not spent enough time to discriminate that there are infact four malcontents instead of just one sinc there really appears no difference in their style. However yes, I have a question. Why are they writing in these assinine po-dunk aspersions about ‘evildoer scientists’ being at the root of all society’s ills? I mean, the aspersions, fuck dude, their entire posts are laffable in so many ways – I would really like to try and discover the source of their vitriol. And – It would be amusing. To me. Esp if these cats are at the level of education as you suggest.
    As for ad hominem attacks – I have not attacked, yet.

  8. Agent of Goldstein says:

    Dear skungesh;
    Sorry for my delayed response, I was partying over the weekend.
    However, I am uncertain as to the source of your confusion.
    As I point out, scientific advance are unfailingly used for the good of humanity.
    Aren’t they?
    (By the way is skungesh your name thru your mama’s side or your daddy’s side?)

  9. Jennifer says:

    Hmmm, your commenter emphasizes “The scientists have blood on their hands.” I would argue that Christians through the ages have quite a lot of blood on their hands, WAY more than scientists who created weapons. Let’s just focus on persecution of the Jews, shall we (my history degree comes in handy on occasion)? Weíll leave out for now the mass slaughter of Native Americans by Christians, which number many more than the number of people killed by bombs over the years. Unfortunately, the Jews are probably the most persecuted group since the rise of Christianity and I agree with the Mad Biologist that the attitude of Christians towards Jews definitely was one of the biggest contributing factors to the Holocaust.
    90% of Jews lived in Europe after the destruction of the temple, so letís examine how Christians treated them. Jews lived in ghettos and were severely limited in how they could participate in public life. Some cities had laws persecuting Jews: preventing Jews from leaving their streets on Sundays, preventing them from marrying before the age of 25, preventing them from visiting public gardens, etc. They were the targets of many campaigns of forced conversion, but even if Jews did convert to Christianity, they were often harassed or killed anyway. Jews were massacred in France and Germany during the Crusades. There were anti-Jewish riots in England in the Middle Ages. Persecution at the hands of Christians was ever-present. Curiously, while Spain was ruled by Muslims, Jews living there had it pretty good and contributed a great deal to society without suffering religious persecution. That all changed when Christians drove the Muslims out of Spain. Shortly thereafter, Jews were massacred sporadically. The new Christian rulers passed laws forbidding study of the Torah, and implemented many laws either requiring conversion or requiring Jews to simply leave Spain. Many Jews converted to Christianity in hopes of avoiding persecution, but that didnít work. Converts were often harassed and killed even more than Jews. Then came the Inquisition. Ah, the pinnacle of European Christianity. Iím sure I donít need to go into the type of slaughter that occurred during that period. This type of persecution didnít change anywhere until France implemented the separation of church and state after the French Revolution, granting Jews basic rights for the first time in any European country.
    Those are just some highlights of a very unpleasant history of violence. There was a long and pervasive undercurrent of anti-Semitism and violence against Jews by Christians in Europe. When Germany was falling apart after WWI, anti-Semitism meshed with the horrible political and economic conditions at the time and led to the Holocaust.
    Comparing stem cell research to the Holocaust is simply insulting to an entire race of people who suffered horribly for over a thousand years at the hand of a religion that supposedly ďloves thy neighbor.Ē
    Oh, and a company has figured out how to create embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, and religious fundamentalists *still* oppose it! Ah, to live in such an enlightened society!

  10. skuqesh says:

    Yay! Goldy, yer back,
    Hope ya had a fun party.
    No confusion here – just wondering what yer general beef with ‘science’ is? What’s your major – are you willing to divulge?
    and just to clarify some terms:
    What is your definition of ‘Scientific Advance’? Your sweeping generalites are too vague, too nebulous. You seem to imply, sarcastically, that ‘scientists’ are evildoers with deliberately unethical intentions. Are you anti-science? (Are you ultimately suggesting we adopt Polpot’s example in Cambodia and revert to an agrarian society? No computers, no electricity, and certainly no partying on weekends!) Or are there specific technologies which you find unethical or misapplied?
    what is your definition of the ‘Good of Humanity’? Are you suggesting anyone applying a scientific method to their work ought to be thinking of the greater good of other people? ie – Stem cell debate is weighted upon these kinds of premises – people are manipulating blastocysts (little balls of undifferentiated or at least pluri potent cells) so that ultimately the suffering of others (living breathing citizens in pain) can be relieved. For some this is about makin advances for good, and for others this is unacceptable and should be forbidden due to the perceived harm it inflicts.
    Let’s have ourselves a little ethical debate – ya know, flesh this out, as gentleman of ‘learnin’ are oft want to do. I’d like to hear some reasoned debate from someone who, as you appear to be, is not happy with the implementation of certain technologies.
    Remember – Give respect and you’ll get respect. Talk schmack – yer on yer own spanky.
    Now I’ll admit, I suck at debate. I’m not particulary adept on the material science side, I’m certainly no rocket scientist, and I know nothing deeper about chemistry beyond the basics, but molecular bio and bio ethics are of much interest to me. Again, I am genuinely interested to flesh this out, sans snark and profanity, so help me to understand your side. we can always agree to disagree.

  11. The Anti Atheist says:

    Hi skungesh, I thought I’d jump in too. Funny you mention Pol Pot, since he was atheist who specialized in the applied application of the theories of Dialectical Materialism. (You know, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and all the other greats.)
    Which actually relates to Jennifers death toll count.
    Well, lets see, the most handy statistics I have are over 100 Million killed in the 20th century alone by practioners of atheistically based philosphies, exceeding by many times the total killed in all the previous so called religious conflicts in history.
    Source, The Black Book of Communism, issued by Harvard University Press. (Be careful though, the Harvard University Press is a well know right wing organization of religious fanatics.)
    Now, the 100 Million refers to those murdered outright, starved, beaten, tortured, what have you.
    As to the millions MORE killed by the efficient killing machines given us by scientists, thats another story.
    But either way, given that every officially atheistic society has been a bloody dictatorship, I don’t think atheism per se has much to offer.
    By the way Jennifer, you are probably familiar with the book “Hitlers Pope” by John Cornwell in which the Pope is blamed for everything in World War Two.
    The atheists loved it.
    Funny though, when the church doesn’t act, it gets blamed.
    If it tries to act, it is told to “stay out of politics”, “separation of church and state”, etc.
    Whatever, I don’t think atheists would really be happy unless all religious believers were…shall we say…gone.
    But anyway, Cornwells book was a hit on the atheshit circuit.
    Funny thing though, Cornwell wrote ANOTHER book.
    He called it “Hiters Scientists” and its where I got most of my info about the nasty things scientists have done. Heck, they caved in to Hitler quicker than the pastors.
    Anything for a buck, I guess.

  12. The Anti Atheist says:

    But the way Jennifer, the “blood on their hands” comment was made by Robert Oppenheimer, leader of the A bomb project, and an atheist.
    Now, I have always wondered why he would say such a mean thing.

  13. skunqesh says:

    Oh joy – it’s Aunty A Thist!
    So tell us Aunty – what’s yer claim to fame?
    Besides seeing aetheists everywhere you look. Or in every book from your book club. Or in anyone whose sound grip on reality threatens your POV. You know, you’ve created God in your own image when he hates all the same people as you.
    Now seriously – what do you do for living, besides bitching about aetheists and scientists? How do you make the world a better place? What would make the world a better place? What with all them thar aaaaethiests and eeevildoers all mucking about.
    And another, very serious question.
    How many bags of Cheetos do you eat a day?
    jus wonderin,

  14. THE Emanuel Goldstein says:

    To: Skungesh
    Re: My followers.
    Admittedly, sometimes my followers get out of hand.
    However, seriously, they did have one important question.
    Is your name skungesh on your father or mothers side?
    As to atheists, its really nothing personal.
    We just don’t want them to have political control over us, just as you don’t want fundies having political control over you.
    I mean, if eveyone hated Christians like you and most of the posters here do, it is clear the Christians (I think Mike the Mad One calls them “christopaths”) would be in deep shit.
    By the way, did you know “atheist” spells “eatshit”.
    How much do you eat each day?
    Hahahahaha…just kidding!

  15. stogoe says:

    Legion got kicked off of Red State Rabble for never contributing anything but unintelligble screaming to the debate. Looks like he’s found a new home. Just like a hermit crab, except that instead of growing too big for a shell, the shell kicked him out.

  16. thee skunqesh says:

    Heya Manny!
    ?your ‘followers’? – ohhh, you’re a cult leader! (not an actual Christian). So you’ve been serving up the Kool-Aid. Is it grape or fruity punch? betcha it’s fruity punch. good stuff – Ohhh YEaHHH!
    See, here’s the rub Manny. I’ve never claimed to be an aetheist, a non believer, or a hater of any religion. Check my posts sparky. You will not find one single “i’ma athist” or “religion izz baad” one. In Fact – I’ve tried, sort of politely (as good as it gets round here) to engage your sheep.. er.. ‘Followers’ into debate. I luvs battin the shit around with a moonbat occasionally, but your sheep don’t seem to enjoy thinking for themselves. Lotsa invective, wacky aspersions, strawmen, and passionate pleas for attention, but no real substance. You guys are like the twinkies of debate. (you do know what twinkies are, right?)
    You appear to assume anyone who posts here, or generally disagrees with you to be mortally against you. Well, jus cuz yer paranoid doesn’t mean anyone gives a hoot.
    Manny, it’s been interesting, kinda. But not really. I’m sure you’ve got some trolling to catch up with, some goats to sacrifice, and aetheists (& gays, jews, commies, catholics, people with silly walks) galore to demonize. Me, I’ve gotta get back to busy. I’ll depart with this little gem, just to wax nostalgic. It seems appropriate.
    VILLAGER #1:
    We have found a witch. May we burn her?
    Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
    How do you know she is a witch?
    VILLAGER #2:
    She looks like one.
    Right! Yeah! Yeah!
    Bring her forward.
    I’m not a witch. I’m not a witch.
    Uh, but you are dressed as one.
    They dressed me up like this.
    Augh, we didn’t! We didn’t…
    And this isn’t my nose. It’s a false one.
    VILLAGER #1:
    Well, we did do the nose.
    The nose?
    VILLAGER #1:
    And the hat, but she is a witch!
    VILLAGER #2:
    We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Yes I know who Oppenheimer is. This sure is a weird comment thread. What’s the obsession with atheists? Do you think all scientists are atheists? I’m a scientist in training and not an atheist. I do have a problem with organized religion, however. For example, Christianity would be fine if Christians actually followed the teachings of Jesus. My experience is that 95% of Christians don’t. I think I’ll move on to reading other posts now. Bye!

  18. skunqesh says:

    D’Oh! I was right all along.
    Manny, Goldy, Aunty A Thist, all the agents, disciples, gangs, squads, Christy Squids, whathave you:
    same person.
    Hey, I feel kinda punkt – I actually thought there might be two of ’em.
    Google ’em if ya like (“emanuel goldstein” w/ christensen for example) You’ll see.
    dude’s chalk fulla nutz but a busy little beaver none the less (lol!). I’ll admit I totally missed the Orwell 1984 reference – haven’t read that since grammar school.
    ah well,

  19. Rocky says:

    I googled em, and didn’t get any comparisons.
    However, I am wary of atheists myself.
    Their record is abysmal.

  20. “Extermination always begins with the weakest subjects.”
    Emanuel Goldstein.
    Definition of Scientists: “Men who strived to understand everything, until there was NOTHING LEFT to understand.”
    The Omega Man

  21. Clay D Youngblood says:

    Jesus, himself, was a clone. Yehowah (YHWH, [ye-ho-vah]), the GOD, uses cloned stem cells to keep himself healthy. He is a man. The Bible (Holy Book) tells us Jesus looked just like the Father (the GOD). They had the same DNA. The Book of Mormon also tells us Isaac looked just like both of them, also. Sarah went through menapause 15 years before Isaac was born. She was strile. Abraham was not the father, either. Joseph was, as we were told, not Jesus’ father. Mary was not his mother. She was implanted with an embryo, the clone of the GOD. It’s al science and a lab. Lab technicians, medical personnel, the whole bit. Man and woman -Natural man and Natural woman – were created over a million years ago by DNA alteration, in a lab. Genesis 1:23, “We created man and woman in our image”. “WE” and “OUR” – read the material and understand. Adam and Eve were formed, not created. They were personnel the GOD (General of Operations and Development) sent to supervise the colony established, to mate with and teach Natural Man and Woman.
    It’s better than Star Wars, the real story.

  22. thanks for all

  23. sex shop says:

    thanks for all

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