Las Vegas Sun

May 28, 2017

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Where I Stand:

Kerkorian’s ‘Promise’: Making sure truth will endure

“Sean Spicer didn’t serve the president well.”

That summation from pundits earlier this week was a response to Spicer’s ridiculous, stupid, ignorant, callous (you can add your own adjectives at this point) answer in a media conference at which he claimed that Adolph Hitler never gassed his own citizens. Really?

By making that statement, Spicer also did not serve humanity well.

Spicer fell on his sword and took all the heat — as well he should have — for his out-of-mind experience the following day in a full-throated interview and unequivocal apology on CNN. What else could he or should he have done? Especially right in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Jews’ freedom from bondage under the pharaoh of Egypt. Remember the story of Moses, the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea?

The story of the Jewish people over the last 5,000 years or so is replete with murderous tragedies and oppression but none so horrific as the Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany under Hitler did its best to eradicate the Jewish people in the gas chambers of places called Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and others. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis!

Who doesn’t know that? Well, besides Sean Spicer, there is a lunatic fringe in this world called Holocaust deniers, who claim that it didn’t happen and countless others who, as hard as it is to believe, just don’t know or never did know or don’t want to know. Of course, there are also the haters who believe it in their interests to deny no matter how much the facts prove the lie. Until recently, those folks were kept at the margins of responsible society so that their poisonous rhetoric couldn’t and wouldn’t infect decent human beings.

Unfortunately, those haters were given new life by people in and around the Trump campaign this past year, and the result of their lies being “mainstreamed” is exactly what we witnessed this past week. I have no reason to believe Spicer is one of them or even believes what they espouse, but the effect of the constant barrage of anti-Semitic remarks that swirl around the Trump orbit have had the desired effect. Thank goodness that the media and all those folks on Twitter did not let Spicer further those hateful and harmful lies.

I am especially mindful of this subject — man’s inhumanity to man — because today is Easter and if Christianity around the world is celebrating anything it is the magnificence of the human spirit coupled with a sincere faith that man can be better, do better and act better toward his fellow man.

The world witnessed incredible acts of bravery during World War II when Christians came to the aid of Jews trying to escape Hitler’s ovens. Thousands of innocent lives were spared because people who believed in God did their best to save the lives of their fellow human beings. We call those very special people the “Righteous Ones.”

I am also mindful of the way some people would rewrite the history of the Holocaust to serve their own needs after recently watching the movie premiere of “The Promise,” which takes place in World War I. It is all about the Armenian genocide.

The movie could be the greatest legacy Las Vegas’ friend and benefactor, Kirk Kerkorian, ever gave to the world. Kerkorian is the executive producer of the film, which tells a love story set in the middle of the murder of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Turks. Theirs was a vile and vicious effort to wipe an entire country off the face of the Earth years before Hitler moved forward on his genocidal plans for the Jews.

It should not come as a surprise to most people, but probably does, that there was an Armenian genocide and that Germany — which was allied with Turkey at the time — was a prime architect in 1914. Or that there is even a place called Armenia. That is how quiet this monstrous act has been kept for over 100 years. But thanks to Mr. Kerkorian and some very able filmmakers and actors, the story has been told for all to see — and learn.

I suppose what I am trying to say on this Easter Day is that history, unfortunately, is replete with stories of murder and genocide which define the utter depravity of man. And our only chance of avoiding similar atrocities in the future is to acknowledge these murderous events — even a century after the fact — and learn from them. To ignore them, or to deny them, or to lie about them in the face of facts to the contrary is to further man’s ability to destroy innocent lives.

Kirk Kerkorian’s last testament, if you will, was to tell the Armenian history for all to know. In our company’s weekly news magazine, The Sunday, available all around town today, we tell the story of how Kirk’s lifelong dream came to pass.

“The Promise” goes a long way to educate the world about what really happened to the Armenian people. I urge every Las Vegan to see this movie — without your children — so you cannot be swayed away from the truth by anyone, no matter whom they serve.

The Holocaust did happen. And so did the Armenian genocide. Period.

Happy Easter to our Christian friends. We would all do well to heed their faith’s message of peace.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.

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