Should Nazi Movies Be Consigned to Oblivion?

Nazi Germany produced an impressive output of feature films, some of them involving great technical sophistication and all of them serving propaganda purposes. The documentary Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Films contains clips from these movies together with the commentary of both historians and ordinary moviegoers who have seen them recently. Thomas Doherty writes in his review:

For not a few spectators, the seductive quality of the cinema breeds a fear that, if let loose, the Nazi films can be a gateway drug into the harder stuff. Filmed in shadows, a pair of former neo-Nazis confirms that the vintage Nazi fare is useful as bonding bait for new recruits, though even they scoff at The Eternal Jew as over the top. After watching The Jew Süss, [perhaps the most atrocious of anti-Semitic Nazi movies], a theater-full of French high-school kids is nearly unanimous in voting to ban it from television broadcasts: the susceptible masses need to be protected from material that should be reserved “for the educated bourgeoisie.” A man at a cinemathèque in Jerusalem demurs, arguing that The Jew Süss should be shown to every schoolchild in Israel, so they can be familiar with it, understand it, and “dispute and reject it.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Censorship, Film, History & Ideas, Nazism


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus