Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Tyranny of Language - Victor Comments

Today, the CNN news scrolled up on my laptop, as it does a few times a day, and I noted that a sweet old man had died in Iowa. His name was James Hoyt. He was 83.

When James was 19, he was one of 4 US soldiers who liberated Buchenwald. For anybody who doesn't know what that means, I scorn your ignorance.

The soldiers took photos. The photos are beyond Dante's imagination. James kept a journal . Young James walked through the camp in horror. Machine gun on his arm. Chewing gum in his kit. He realized in seconds that neither the gun nor the gum had any use. He was greeted by walking skeletons. Somehow they found what he described as "the incredible reserve of human strength", to throw him in the air.

James, in his own words, saw" hearts freshly taken from living bodies." He saw skeletal people die while clapping for him.

James went on to a quiet life, a farmer in a very small town, among good people. But James never got over it. He was tortured by that best of all cameras, the memory, until he died. At 19, he was one of 4 soldiers to see hell. At 83, he was still transfixed. Still 19.
I know Deniers. I have a young European friend, age 40, incredibly rich and successful , who denies the holocaust. He is English, not German. We communicate weekly but I despair.

But what infuriates me is when David Suzuki, Bill Good and Gordon Campbell label anybody who doesn't use a blue box as a Denier. My European friend denies that James saw the horrors in that camp. He is a Denier. If I ask for a plastic bag at CAPERs, I am not on the same plane as the people who scorned James Hoyt or scoff at what he saw.

He was still a baby at 19. With his gun and gum.

Rockabye, Sweet Baby James.

I did not know you James.

But my cheeks are wet at your passing.

God holds you.

Le Boulavardier


Anonymous said...

That was wonderfully written David. It touched me. Thank you


PelaLusa said...

The next time anyone uses the term [Global Warming] Denier, I encourage everyone to say the following to them: "How long have you been anti-semitic? Do you have ANY idea how disrespectful such language is to the Holocaust survivors?"

Strong words, yes. But absolutely necessary to penetrate their thick skulls.

David Berner said...

Thank you, June. I hope you understand that this was written by my good friend, Victor. All credit is due to him alone.

David in North Burnaby BC said...

An outstanding piece and I think pelalusa's a tremendous idea.