In 1981, acting as a public interest lawyer, I represented a Holocaust survivor who had been a 17-year-old boy when his entire family was murdered in Nazi concentration camps. We sued a group of radical right-wing organizations that denied the Holocaust and, as a publicity ploy, had offered a reward for proof it had occurred.
During the hearing in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, I asked, "If the Holocaust is a hoax, then where are all the children?" The answer was that the death camps were primarily industrial operations that worked prisoners to death, and children were quickly murdered because they were too young to contribute either their labor or body fat to the enterprise.
The presiding judge wisely disposed of the primary issue by simply taking "judicial notice" of the "historical fact" that Jews were gassed to death at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.
As I was reading in Mother Jones about the murder of a guard at the Holocaust Museum last week, I was not surprised to learn that James von Brunn, the shooter, had left a note saying "the Holocaust is a lie," and that he was associated with the very same organizations we had defeated almost 30 years ago.
In the past, von Brunn expressed his admiration of Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby as an umbrella organization for other extremist groups, including the National Alliance organized by William Pierce, whose hatred had focused on African Americans.
Carto also established the Institute for Historical Review to promulgate anti-Semitic propaganda on college campuses, including the reward offer. And, he used the Noontide Press to publish a wide range of hate materials, including at least one book by von Brunn in which he claimed there was a Jewish conspiracy to "destroy the white gene pool."
In our lawsuit, we established that these organizations were essentially moneymaking operations that profited by tailoring and peddling hate materials to the various prejudices and hatreds of their customers.
Ultimately, the defendants paid a $90,000 judgment and issued an apology "to Mr. Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and all other survivors of Auschwitz for the pain, anguish and suffering he and all other Auschwitz survivors have sustained relating to the $50,000 reward offer for proof that ‘Jews were gassed in gas chambers at Auschwitz.’"
Last week, after being painfully reminded about the murdered children of the Holocaust, both Jews and Gypsies, another horrible story about murdered children came across my desktop.
Reuters reported that the chief jailer of the Khmer Rouge confessed at his trial in Phnom Penh that Pol Pot had specifically ordered the murder of the children among the 1.7 million Cambodians who were slaughtered, because "we were afraid those children would take revenge."
The Cambodian children were not murdered in gas chambers. They were taken into the "Killing Fields" and clubbed to death.
Finally, as I later read about the murder of Doctor George Tiller by a "staunch opponent of abortion," yet another, more complex, image of suffering children came to mind.
Dr. Tiller’s clinic had been bombed in 1985, and he was shot in both arms in 1993 by an anti-abortionist; however, his murder reveals another way how children suffer as a result of extremist hatred.
He was one of the few doctors who had the courage to help women cope with impossible late-term pregnancies that threatened either their own lives, or which would deliver a child incapable of leading anything other than a life of misery, one whose quality of "living" would be so poor as to not even qualify as "life."
Dr. Tiller did not "murder babies." He was a healer who helped women abort late-term pregnancies under conditions where the fetus would die shortly after birth from conditions, such as an exposed brain or Down Syndrome with severe congenital heart defects, or where one twin had died in the womb and toxins were killing the other twin and the mother.
Many of his patients desperately wanted children, and Dr. Tiller saved their lives and preserved their health so they had the chance to bear healthy babies and build strong families.