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RS 121 Test 2 Study Notes Includes all lecture notes from modules 6-9

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Religious Studies
RS 121
Marybeth White

RS 121 Study Notes Test 2 Study Notes Module 6: Evil, Religion, Modernity, and the Holocaust The response of Jewish community to another form of evil as a result of modernism The Holocaust The Holocaust: The Holocaust = a whole burnt offering The planned destruction of 6 million Jews from 1930s to end of WWII The Shoah = the time of desolation Many Jews prefer Shoah to the more common term Holocaust, since the latter means sacrifice made to God, which they feel is inappropriate How Jews Died During the Shoah/Holocaust: 1. Ghettoization In crowded and squalid conditions allowed the spread of disease and encouraged starvation Conditions were so severe, they estimated that had nothing else occurred, all Jews in Europe would have perished in 25 years 2. Einsatzgruppen Einsatzgruppen the murder squads who accompanied the German armies invasion into eastern Europe and Russia from late 1941 1943 1.5-2 million Jews were killed Method of execution: people were robbed, stripped, shot and dumped into pit (deeply excavated anti-tank ditch) Sometimes, whole populations were stripped, and forced the line up against the edge of the pit and machine gunned down 3. Death Camps Newest most advanced and technologically sophisticated was Auschwitz Most preferred method of killing was using gas, specifically, Zeiclone Bay (a pesticide) Evil in the Modern World: It is important to examine the social dimension of the holocaust since it is clearly a case where individualistic understandings of evil simply do not work Was not the activity of few criminal individuals but enormous social experiment in which an army of collaborators worked together to bring about destruction of a harmless population Ordinary citizens could participate in a monstrous evil, explained by Stephen T. Katz Stephen T. Katz: 1. The role of Ideology- Provided the culture that legitimated these institutions of death 2. Structures of German Society - The role of Technology, Bureaucracy and Instrumental Reason - Key features of modern society that allowed the evil to proceeded 3. Response of Jewish thinkers and theologians to the Holocaust 4. Rabbi Michael Lerner - American Jewish Writer 1 RS 121 Study Notes Explanation of Modern Evil (Stephen T. Katz) 1) The Role of Ideology: Nazi Ideology-Made up of 3 components: (i) Racism and Eugenics (ii) Social Darwinism (iii) Manicheistic philosophy (world view) The net effect of these three elements was to dehumanization of the Jews, to redefine Jews from status of citizens (us) to sub-humans (others) Nazi ideology was rooted in Racism and the modern pseudo-science, Eugenics: - Racism is the belief that: - Human beings are divided into sub-species, each of which forms a genus - Genetic make-up of each genus/sub-specifies/race determines the character of the members of each race, as well as the race as a whole - The races can be ranked hierarchically, usually with ones own race at the top - Racism gave rise to pseudoscience of Eugenics - Was rooted in legitimate biological discovery of the role of the genes in determining ones physical characteristics - Eugenics took it further and posited that ones character was tied very strictly to ones biological make up genetic structures - Eugenics was the belief that: - The fate of a nation is determined by the character of its citizens - The character of its citizens is determined by genetics; therefore, the fate of a nation is determined by the health of its gene pool - To improve the health of the nation, one has to start with the care and cleansing of the gene pool - i.e. If nation was weak, it was because it was filled with cowardly people, cowardly people didnt have the genes for courage and fortitude; Therefore, you need to hunt source of weakness and eliminate from population to create a strong, militaristic society - Eugenics was the basis of Nazi ideology - Eugenics based on animal husbandry - Humans should encourage strong citizens to reproduce and eliminate the weak as farmers breeders encourages the strong - Laws of sterilization put forth by supporters of eugenics - feeble minded and degenerates - Widely introduced in U.S. and upheld in supreme court - Sterilization of repeat criminal offenders in 1930s - By 1942, 13 states had adopted it - Sterilization of mentally ill continued until the 1980s - Favoured immigration laws - Keeping bad genes out before they could pollute the rest of society - US. Immigration restriction act was aimed at social inadequates - Aimed at reducing the number of Italian and Eastern European immigrants, 45% of all immigration - Immigrant Restriction Act of 1924 remained in effect until 1965 Social Darwinism: - Eugenics was tied to competition between the races and Social Darwinism - Term introduced by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) - He argued that the lives of societies paralleled the lives of other species - Societies evolved from primitive forms to civilized, higher forms 2 RS 121 Study Notes - It is the law of natural selection that determine which groups will survive and which will die out - Nations are naturally in a state of competition for scarce resources - Survival of the fittest Spencer (not Darwin) - Nations are naturally at a state of competition for scarce resources and the fittest will survive - This process is natural and unalterable interfering will lead to the dominance of the highest form of humanity - For social Darwinists, especially the Nazis, peace is a temporary phase in human history of preparation for the next battle - Compassion, peace-making, cooperation, etc. are all signs of weaknesses seen as against nature or against natural law - Could harm not help humanity - Toughness, ruthlessness, etc. are admired qualities - Social Darwinism was used as a justification of racism and colonization Manicheistic Worldview: st th - Term comes from Gnosticism: Philosophy popular in the Roman world around 1 -5 century that believed that each individual was or contained a spark of the original creator, God, that was pure light and pure spirit - Flesh is seen as a cage for that spark - Idea was to get in touch with that original spark by traveling inward by having special knowledge (gnosis) that allowed one to reconnect with the spark and liberate oneself from the flesh - Stephen T. Katz denotes highly dualistic thinking: spirit against the flesh, good vs. evil, insider vs. outsider, friend vs. enemy - Nazis applied this dualistic thinking to two populations: Germans Jews Spiritual, civilized Materialistic, carnal (having to do with the flesh) Moral Immoral: greed, lust (unable to control appetites) Altruistic (oriented to serving the nation)Self-interested (serves only individual desires or that of the tribe) Clean Dirty Good superior and destined to rule all ofEvil, inferior and destined to be exterminated humanity - Believed that Jews were imprisoned in fleshly existence of desire - It was easy for Germans to be moral and Jews were unable to control their appetites, greed, lust slaves to their bodies - Common Nazi propaganda: - Jews controlled international finance and were greedy, ambitious, and wanted to take over the world and have power - Jews unable to control lust: ex. image of a hooked nose, elderly Jewish man salivating as he approaches a young, innocent, pure looking blond German girl - Germans were seen as clean, orderly and healthy; superior and destined to rule the world - Jews were depicted as dirty, chaotic and disease-bearing, evil and destined to be exterminated - In dualistic world view, you can see what Enrique Dussel calls the Eclipse of the Other - Germans define themselves by pushing off against a negative image - Jews become a vessel and depository that carries all of those negative images - Jews become a symbol for the Germans
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