We don’t have accent marks in English. None of those little slashing lines peppering French — the accents aigu and grave. None of those rumbling double-dot umlauts found in German.
Thus people could almost be forgiven for mispronouncing “Holocaust denial” by stressing the first word: “Holocaust denial.”
That rolls off Republican tongues. Pronounced that way, the Illinois Republican Party can muster indignation that perennial candidate Arthur Jones is an admitted anti-Semite as revealed in the Sun-Times by my colleagues Lynn Sweet and Frank Main. Jones is a man who denies the Holocaust, and yet is on his way to becoming the Republican nominee for the 3rd Congressional District since he is running unopposed.
If only refusing to acknowledge unpleasant facts were limited to anti-Semites blind to the historical end product of their hatred. To those who, perhaps through a lingering vestige of humanity, flinch at seeing their philosophy put into practice, squeezing their eyes shut to what is actually the best-documented atrocity in history, thanks to those meticulous Germans.
But denial is a big tent. Lots of room in there.
Thus I would suggest “Holocaust denial,” with the accent on the second word. Because denial is the root of the GOP and the president whom the party elected and serves. The horse he rode in on, the grease that makes the whole hideously clanking machine operate.
Not denying the Holocaust — thank heaven for small favors. Not yet anyway, though considering the people President Donald Trump surrounds himself with, that might be coming.
But denial of just about anything else? Matters non-Holocaust related? Bar the door, Katie.
The public desire for health care reform? The success of Obamacare? The role of immigration in our economy? The popularity of sane gun laws?
Deny, deny, deny, deny. Any fact they find inconvenient is waved away. The humanity of marginalized groups such as transgender persons? Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives denies the offensiveness of her commercial conjuring up a transgender woman as a bathroom-invading bogeyman. She says she’s genuinely puzzled, and I believe her. Illumination might come if Ives could ask herself a simple question: what other group would she hire an actor to dress up as? Would she run a commercial where a white man applies burnt cork makeup and pretends to be black? Why not?
Not that asking this question would crack Ives’ denial. You can’t; it would be like trying to peel a ball bearing with your thumb. Democrats sometimes entertain themselves imagining that glorious day when Trump supporters finally see the light of their folly. Pretty to think so, but it’s never coming. The light will be there. It’s there now. But they won’t see it. Or if they do, they’ll deny seeing it.
You can force Arthur Jones to read “The Diary of Anne Frank” — heck, maybe he’s read it already, snickering. Reluctant as I am to speak for the man, my bet is: he wouldn’t be moved. He couldn’t be. Not being moved is what denial is all about. It’s the armor you grow against the fruits of your folly.
Denial comes naturally to some. Easier for them to conjure up a hundred different preposterous conspiracies rather than face contrary reality.
Need more examples? Call the president a liar, because he tells lies all the time —undebatable, clear untruths. His supporters will lecture you on the respect due the president, overlooking that this particular president is Donald Trump, a man in denial about anything that doesn’t flatter his ego, from the vote count that elected him to whatever he’s exaggerating this morning.
Global warming? Fraud. The army of scientists documenting its reality and ever-more adverse effects? Charlatans.
Treason with Russia? The increasingly clear conspiracy between the president’s staff and family and Russian operatives to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in return for favorable treatment? Easier for him to imagine then angrily denounce a leftist conspiracy at the FBI and the Justice Department, heretofore known as among the most conservative parts of the federal bureaucracy.
Which is why I can’t let Arthur Jones be treated as some weirdo who slipped in the door to the Republican Party unnoticed. It’s the Denial Party, going full swing. Uncle Arthur might have crossed over the line, with a lampshade on his head, but they invited him. Of course, they’ll deny it.