Comparing the Holocaust with Abortion

When I taught a course on the Holocaust at the University of Wisconsin, I had a student who sent me an email that read something akin to: “Hi Prof. Weinstein, In class tomorrow I’m going to compare the Holocaust with abortion, because there are so many babies being murdered every year and I think it’s worth talking about. I just wanted to let you know.”

I was quite fond of the student who sent the email, and I was shocked to receive it. I replied, “Thanks for the heads up on this. I obviously can’t stop you from doing this if you feel you must, but I want to caution you of a couple of things: First, you are in a class with many young women, some of whom may have had abortions, and you’re essentially comparing them with Hitler. Second, we are in a very liberal city and you are likely to be on the receiving end of a lot of anger, and so the discussion is likely to be unproductive. Third, I find this comparison to be both without historical merit and morally distasteful.”

The student decided not to bring up the comparison in class. But she did tell me that she was praying for me and my moral stance on the issue.

***

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. And, on Twitter, some foul people are using this occasion to make this same comparison, such as the woman who responded to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s statement against antisemitism by saying:

“I listened to a survivor on the bbc this morning speaking about babies being ripped from their mothers arms and killed [during the Holocaust]. Horrific. It had shades of today’s world, where 42,000,000 babies were killedand [sic] ripped from their mother’s [sic] wombs last year. Evil still walks the earth.” —@RosaleenMaguir1

This phrasing is particularly foul because the comparison is an “apples-to-apples” equation of the (mostly, but not exclusively) Jewish women who had their babies and children taken from them and/or murdered in front of their eyes; and women who choose to have an abortion because they cannot have a baby or do not want one, for whatever reason they choose.

Abortion is not genocide. The Nazis orchestrated a state-sponsored attempt to “exterminate” Jews from the earth. They deployed the vast machinery of the state in order to accomplish this goal—established as an official goal, in all probability, at the Wannsee Conference in the summer of 1942. There were gas chambers; Einsatzgruppen, or mobile killing squads that operated primarily in the Soviet Union; gas vans; indiscriminate murders on the streets; mass starvations in places like the ghettos in Warsaw and Łódź; “medical” torture by people like Josef Mengele; and countless other horrific killing methods.

Abortion is an individual’s choice, not a state-sponsored mass killing. In some cases, forced abortion (I.e., the woman is compelled to have an abortion when she wants to have the baby) can be used as a tool of genocide or ethnic cleansing. But an individual woman’s choice to have an abortion does not make her as “evil” as Adolf Hitler.

Abortion is not murder. Abortion is a legal medical procedure that often saves a woman’s life. Take the X Case in Ireland, for example. Or, the many abortions that are performed when women have ectopic pregnancies. Or abortions that are performed when a woman already has 4 children and cannot emotionally or financially afford to have any more. Or a woman who chooses to have an abortion so that she can finish high school, or make partner at her law firm.

All of those are legitimate medical choices, and they don’t make a woman “Hitler.” Shaming women who want an abortion by equating them with Hitler is overt misogyny and an attempt to control women’s choices by controlling their fertility.

And no, the doctors who perform abortions aren’t “Hitler,” either.

Being Jewish on the Internet

When your surname is Weinstein, you basically wear a sign that says “Jew”–and I’m damned PROUD to do so. The Internet routinely tries to beat that out of me with its incessant invocation of antisemitism. My surname seems to be a favorite mechanism by which bigots attempt to demean me. Sometimes they capitalize it; sometimes they use the AltShite (((bullshit))) parentheses.

Bigots seem to become incensed when I comment on anything that involves “Europeans” (by which they mean gentiles). The implication, of course, is that a Jewish person can’t possibly be a European–which is one of the oldest antisemitic attacks there is. Donald Trump routinely invokes this idea that Jews have some kind of dual loyalty to the United States (or wherever else) and Israel.

Some antisemitic comments on Twitter.

It should go without saying that some Jews have loyalty to Israel and others do not. I have literally NEVER commented publicly on the subject of Israel, yet morons like the schmuck quoted above make assumptions.

The Internet was supposed to be a great equalizer. Everyone can share her opinion online, usually for free. That’s true–but it’s not an equalizer when certain people from certain groups are harassed when they express themselves. Women, Jews, people of color are all routinely subjected to the predatory vitriolic anonymous attacks of angry, bitter white men who are freaking out about losing their privilege (which they don’t see as privilege; they see their social and economic advantages as their birth right).

They need to grab ahold of their tiny penises and deal with the reality that equality is going to steamroll them eventually. And–holy shit–they may need to work hard and earn what they achieve in life.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

This isn’t an original idea, but I want to honor my fur babies after which this site was named, by advocating for adoption. When you buy an animal from a breeder, that’s one more animal that stays in a shelter without a home. If you adopt from a no-kill shelter, you’re really saving two lives, because that opens a space for another animal to be rescued from the street or a high-kill shelter like the city Animal Care & Control (aka the city pound).

The picture on the home screen is of CRISPR (pronounced like Crisper), a kitty that we adopted in August. When CRISPR was found on the street, someone had broken both of his back legs. The asshole literally snapped his legs. The vets could only save one of them. So he’s a delightful three-legged 3-year-old cat.

My other cats, whom you see below, are Serena (black) and Athena (tortoiseshell/calico). All three cats have irrepressible kitty spirit.

Serena!
Athena!

Truly, rescued animals should inspire all of us to be better people. Humans—myself included—can feel defeated by the simplest misfortunes. Last year, when I fractured my femur, I thought I couldn’t go on. I still can’t do any kind of serious exercise. Some days, I truly feel like the a satellite is crashing down on my head because it seems so terrible not to be able to practice karate or run on a treadmill.

And then I can look at my cats. CRISPR is missing a leg and was terribly abused by some asshole(s). Yet, he was so determined to live that he practiced and practiced and now he can jump everywhere in my house that the other cats can jump, except the counter. And he loves people! He lets out an “I want a lap NOW!” war cry every time he sees a human sit on the couch.

Serena was homeless and watched all of her kittens get adopted while she sat at the shelter. That was more than 11 years ago now. She is so picky about humans that I considered proposing to my husband when she “chose him” for me by sitting on his lap. She has a giant scar on her neck from a street fight. And yet she is happy and loves me….and cat nip. She loves her nip.

And, finally, there’s Athena. Athena was rescued from a jerk who was using her as a kitten factory. We don’t know how many litters of kittens she had, but when she was finally rescued, she was pregnant yet again. The vet suspected, based on the condition of her female bits, that she had had many litters. And she gets chronic mammary gland tumors. One surgery was so huge that she was put on a fentanyl patch for the pain. And yet there she is every day, carrying socks and underwear around our house and leaving them on our bed and on the couch as gifts for us.

My cats really do inspire me. If they can experience traumas of which we’ll never really know, and still wake up every day and be delighted to be alive and be cats, then we can go on and push through, too.

And like the kitties, we might need help to do it.