In her last column, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman wrote: "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers . . . "
This is worthy of some analysis.
First, it reflects a major difference between the way in which the Left and Right tend to view each other. With a few exceptions, those on the Left tend to view their ideological adversaries as bad people, i.e., people with bad intentions, while those on the Right tend to view their adversaries as wrong, perhaps even dangerous, but not usually as bad.
Those who deny the Holocaust are among the evil of the world. Their concern is not history but hurting Jews, and their attempt to rob nearly six million people of their experience of unspeakable suffering gives new meaning to the word "cruel." To equate those who question or deny global warming with those who question or deny the Holocaust is to ascribe equally nefarious motives to them. It may be inconceivable to Al Gore, Ellen Goodman and their many millions of supporters that a person can disagree with them on global warming and not have evil motives: Such an individual must be paid by oil companies to lie, or lie -- as do Holocaust deniers -- for some other vile reason.
The belief that opponents of the Left are morally similar to Nazis was expressed recently by another prominent person of the Left, George Soros, the billionaire who bankrolls many leftist projects. At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Soros called on America to "de-Nazify" just as Germany did after the Holocaust and World War II. For Soros, America in Iraq is like the Nazis in Poland.
A second lesson to be drawn from the Goodman statement is that it helps us to understand better one of the defining mottos of contemporary liberalism: "Question authority." In reality, this admonition applies to questioning the moral authority of Judeo-Christian religions or of any secular conservative authority, but not of any other authority. UN and other experts tell us that there is global warming; such authority is not to be questioned.
Third, the equation of global warming denial to Holocaust denial trivializes Holocaust denial. If questioning global warming is on "a par" with questioning the Holocaust, how bad can questioning the Holocaust really be? The same holds true with regard to Nazism and the George Soros statement. Claiming that America in the Iraq War is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany in World War II trivializes the unparalleled evil of the Nazis.