Why a Leading Nazi Invoked Purim with His Dying Breaths

A member of the National Socialist party since 1922, Julius Streicher may have been less directly involved in mass murder than the other nine men sentenced to be hanged by the Nuremberg tribunal, but as the editor of Der Stürmer he did more even than Goebbels to produce anti-Semitic propaganda, usually of the most explicit kind. Just before his execution—between a shout of “Heil Hitler” and a farewell to his wife—he cried “Purimfest 1946!” Jeff Jacoby notes that Streicher was well informed about the holiday:

At Pleikhershof, his country estate, [Streicher] had a collection of books about Purim, in which he underlined in red the references to Haman and his fate. In 1934, Der Stürmer published a lengthy article on Purim headlined “The Night of Murder: The Secret of the Jewish Holiday of Purim Is Unveiled.” Fitting, then, that as Streicher went to his death, uppermost in his mind was the parallel between the hanging of Haman’s ten evil sons and the hanging of Hitler’s ten Nazi accomplices. His outburst—“Purimfest 1946!”—may have mystified those who were present, but it wasn’t meaningless. . . .

At one point in the book of Esther, Haman reveals his true mind. At a banquet he boasts of all the glory, wealth, and influence he has achieved. “Yet all this is worthless to me,” he said, “so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” That is the unforgivable offense: Mordechai the Jew refuses to blend in, to disappear, to be indistinguishable from everyone else. Underneath everything, it is the Jew’s identity—not his money, his success, or his customs—that the anti-Semite cannot bear.

Streicher imagined that Hitler and Germany would succeed where Haman had failed; in the end, approaching the gallows, he knew it was a “Purimfest” all over again. But the defeat of anti-Semitism is never permanent. The hatred of Jews is again on the march, even in America, where for so long it was banished from respectable society. Purim is a joyous holiday, but more and more Jews are watching their backs.

Read more at Arguable

More about: Anti-Semitism, Nazism, Nuremberg Trials, Purim

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