The danger of Anne Frank Syndrome
On July 15, 1944, after having spent exactly two years in hiding from the Nazis, Anne Frank wrote her most famous words:
It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.Every school child learns that "people are truly good at heart," and just yesterday I heard an ultraliberal acquaintance opine the same thing, in virtually those words. I did not get a warm, cuddly feeling. Instead, I actually started thinking about those words. Anne freely admits that she wrote those words because she needed the thought to give meaning to a life spent in hiding. Two weeks after writing them, based on information from an informer, the annex's residents were rounded up by the Nazis and shipped off. Here's what happened to them: Mr. Van Daan was gassed immediately on his arrival in Auschwitz. Mrs. Van Daan was shuffled from Auschwitz, to Bergen-Belsen, to Buchenwald, to Theresienstadt, and finally to another unknown camp were she apparently died shortly before war's end. Peter van Daan survived a death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, only to die three days before the camp was liberated. Mr. Dussel, after having spent time in either Buchenwald or Sachenhausen, died in Neuengamme a few months after being arrested. Mrs. Frank died in Auschwitz from starvation and exhaustion. As for Anne and Margot:
Margot and Anne Frank were transported from Auschwitz at the end of October and brought to Bergen-Belsen,concentrationton camp neHanoverver (Germany). The typhus epidemic that broke out in the winter of 1944-1945, as a result of the horrendohygienicnic conditions, killed thousands of prisoners, including Margot and, a few days later, Anne. She must have died in late February or early March. The bodies of both girls were probably dumped in Bergen-Belsen's mass graves. (From the Afterward to The Diary of a Young Girl : The Definitive Edition, published by Anchor Books Doubleday in 1996)Anne Frank did not die peacefully or gracefully. Instead, her last days on earth were a nightmare of cold, hunger, loneliness and fear:
Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (named "Lies" in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. They said that Anne, naked but for a piece of blanket, explained she was infested with lice and had thrown her clothes away. They described her as bald, emaciated and shivering but although ill herself, she told them that she was more concerned about Margot, whose illness seemed to be more severe. Goslar and Blitz did not see Margot who remained in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne said they were alone as both of their parents were dead.Why am I emphasizing all this? Because I want to make it clear that Anne Frank was wrong. People are not innately good. Her words were whistling in the dark, written to give herself faith and courage under terrible circumstances. They cannot and should not be used as a yardstick for measuring humans' natural state. And for Liberals to cling to this "ideology" moves beyond optimism into idiocy. First off, anyone who has children knows that, while they have a tremendous capacity for love, and have within them the seeds for reason and kindness, their innate state is more Lord of the Flies than anything else. Children are naturally violent, greedy and jealous. What tempers children is a society's externally imposed value system. And these value systems don't spring out of whole cloth. They are the results of centuries of give and take, violence, refining, and thought. In a chauvinistic way that I'm not even going to bother to defend, I think our modern Judeo-Christian value system is one of the best ever created -- and it's not innate, it's learned. I'll go even further here: I don't like the current fundamentalist Islamic value system, with its denigration of women, Jews, and non-Muslims, and its obsession with visiting extreme physical violence (and I include beheading and other slaughters) on those so denigrated. So, I don't think we in the West are innately good, or that those in the fundamentalist Islamic Middle East are inherently bad. I do think, however, that we have the better value system, and that it's absolute idiocy for someone to go around mouthing Anne Frank's touching but misguided words about humans' innate goodness. And of course, if it were merely one person's idiocy, that would be irritating, but fine. What's a problem is that people seek to impose this willfully naive view on American foreign policy, hampering America's ability to protect herself against those whose value system calls for our subjugation or death. UPDATE: Dennis Prager writes powerfully about the new Arab anti-Semitism, which he considers even worse that Nazi anti-Semitism. The Nazis hid their death programs, not believing that the entire public would get on board. The Arabs have 100% public support. Additionally, Arabs have no fear of death, if they can, by their deaths, kill Jews. Prager makes other points about Arab anti-Semitism, but I thought this one was especially important in light of Anne Frank Syndrome:
We Jews have reasons to worry because the West ignores this Jew-hatred. One reason is that Third World evil is rarely taken seriously among Western elites. A second reason is the psychological and political need of Westerners to believe that Islamic societies are, with the exception of "a few extremists," tolerant societies. And the third reason is that Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is dismissed as a temporary phenomenon that will disappear when Israelis and Palestinians make peace. But this belief inverts reality. The lack of peace between the Jewish state and its neighbors is not the cause of Arab anti-Semitism, it is the result of that anti-Semitism. Since 1948, there has been one reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict - the Arab/Muslim world rejects the concept of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in its midst.For this update, a tip of the hat to the wonderful American Future.