Losing Sight of a Moral Imperative
Letter to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2012
L. Gordon Crovitz's account of the German state of Bavaria's decision to make Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" available is a meditation on the unintended consequences of even the most well-intentioned censorship (Information Age: "The Battle Over 'Mein Kampf'," April 30).
However, in depicting the Holocaust as the result of a lone-wolf totalitarian's ravings, Mr. Crovitz fails to take into account the ethical blindness of a people. Hitler could not have initiated his near-genocide of the Jews without the complicity of ordinary Germans. Sadly, the culture that had nurtured Immanuel Kant lost sight of the great philosopher's categorical moral imperative: to treat human beings as ends in themselves.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal some years back, Dorothy Rabinowitz noted how Germany's Axis partner, Italy, had actively thwarted Hitler's "final solution" by following the dictates of an innate humanity: "What there was in the character of the Italians that made their resistance to mass murder so implacable, so different from that of the Vichyite French, is a question we may ponder—and one for whose existence we can be grateful."
Chairman, Italic Institute of America