Mickey’s guests for the hour are philosophers Leonard Grob and John K. Roth, coauthors of the 2023 book, Warnings: The Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy. They outline what is at stake as the US enters another contentious election year with unpopular, problematic frontrunners in both major parties; wars of aggression expanding around the world; and a deeply dismayed and divided public at home. Longtime friends, colleagues, and Holocaust scholars, Lenny and John point to the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s as an example of how rapidly a society can lose its democratic political system and cite a number of recent developments that raise great concern for what may come next if we don’t act now to protect our democratic republic. They offer suggestions for what ordinary citizens can do to sustain democratic institutions and especially highlight the need for a truly free press and well-educated public.
Leonard Grob is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. John K. Roth is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College in California. Both are widely-published scholars of the Holocaust.
Video of Interview with Leonard Grob and John Roth
Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Leonard Grob and John Roth
Mickey Huff: Welcome to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. I’m your host Mickey Huff. Today on the program, I am going to be in conversation with two, extremely well accomplished Holocaust scholars, I’ll be talking with them about their most recent book, which is titled, Warnings: the Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy.
The book, Cascade Books, came out last summer, and I will be speaking with the authors of it, Leonard Grob and John K. Roth. Holocaust education must sound the alarm clearly, insistently, repeatedly. The Holocaust is a warning. This right is written by philosophers John Roth and Leonard Grob, two of the most respected Holocaust scholars in the world.
And their new book, as I mentioned, is Warnings: the Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy. John and Lenny talk about how the extreme right wing and their political movements Anti liberal fury, disrespect for truth and the rule of law, rampant othering, and whataboutism. As these gain traction in the United States and throughout the world, these types of events warn us that Americans need to be concerned about the state of their democracy.
And in fact, we shouldn’t take it for granted. Democracy is indeed in the crosshairs of authoritarian forces that will undermine our government, our way of life, our civil society, unless renewed commitment, ethical as well as political, resists them. So Lenny and John, are you in warnings. Proper introductions for my two guests today.
Lenny Grob is professor emeritus of philosophy at Farley Dickinson University, where he taught full time for 39 years and part time for another 15. At FDU, he served for more than two decades, both as Chairperson of Philosophy Studies and as Director of the University’s Humanities Core Curriculum.
Grob’s father emigrated to the United States from Poland in 1921, the sole member of his immediate family, all of whom had remained behind to escape the Holocaust. Grub’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all murdered in 1942. And in 1989, a route’s journey to Eastern Europe, Grob went to see for himself the sites of destruction of his father’s family.
And this led Lenny to the field of Holocaust studies. He proceeded to teach a course entitled “The Holocaust, Philosophical Issues” for 15 years. In the early decades of his academic career, Grob published in the areas of peace studies, the philosophy of dialogue and conflict resolution, certainly something we’re interested in here at the Project.
Grob centers his scholarship on lessons of the Holocaust for those alive today. Among his publications include three books co edited with Dr. John Roth that speak to the importance of these lessons. Of course, Lenny Grob has done much, much more, but that’s what we have time to introduce today. Lenny.
Welcome to the Project Censored Show. It’s an honor to have you.
Leonard Grob: Thank you so much, Mickey. We’re honored to be here.
Mickey Huff: And, of course, John K. Roth, our other guest today and co author with Lenny of Warnings, was named in 1988 a U. S. National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
He is Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, where he taught from 1966 to 2006. In 2003, Roth became the founding director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights. And he holds the Holocaust Educational Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Holocaust Studies and Research.
Roth’s expertise in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, as well as in Philosophy, Ethics, American Studies, and Religious Studies, has been advanced by appointments as a Graves Fellow in the Humanities, a Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, a Fellow of the National Humanities Institute at Yale University.
Roth has served as visiting professor of Holocaust Studies in Israel. As well as Switzerland and in Kyoto, Japan. In addition to lecturing widely throughout the United States and around the world, Roth has authored, coauthored, or edited more than 50, five zero, 50 books and has published hundreds of articles and reviews.
John Roth, welcome to the Project Censored Show today.
John K. Roth: Thank you, Mickey. It’s a real honor to be with you and with Lenny today.
Mickey Huff: So gentlemen, let’s begin. And we’ll start with you, Lenny. Can you talk to us about how you, you and John have had a long relationship, over your career and you’ve done a lot of things together.
What were the seeds, sort of sown here that led to the two of you writing Warnings? And maybe you can say a little bit about how you planned the book. And the book is very unique in its delivery and very conversational, a dialogue between the two of you. So Lenny, could you talk to us about that?
Leonard Grob: Yes, certainly, as you said, John and I have known each other for a good, long period of time and we each have been aware of the threats that are currently posed to our democracy and we, as Holocaust scholars, we’re especially sensitive to what’s happening now and, it was not simply anything arbitrary to, decide to write this kind of book. Those of us who study the Holocaust, understand, the lessons that come from, this genocide and we also understand what preceded the genocide in Germany, the 1930s.
So, immediately we each felt that there was something that we could contribute in trying to find parallels between what was going on, in the 1930s, the threats to democracy and the undermining of democracy, toward the end of that, full undermining of democracy toward the end of that,, decade.
And so it was almost natural for us to say, let’s write together and spell out some of those parallels. And have this be a warning to our fellow Americans, not that we are saying that, genocide is anything that is expected right here, but that democracy failed in Germany of the 30s. We have a warning and we wanted to shed warning anew to our readers And so it seemed to me that the book was an absolute natural for us to come to the fact that there are dialogical segments in the text is also natural because dialogue is essential to philosophy.
John and I needed to exchange thoughts to reflect on what the other had said. And, come to see what learnings we can have from one another and how, our ideas can be strengthened by that kind of dialogue, which is so essential democracy.
Mickey Huff: Absolutely. And John Roth, that, the same, question to you.
And I know in the prologue, you know, right underneath it says “Old friends, new dialogues,” John Roth.
John K. Roth: Lenny has, pioneered what I, I call dialogical writing, in my experience, at least, is, urging when people work with him is, well, write something and then somebody else will read it and ask questions about what you’ve written and then you should respond to what, what the questions are.
And, Lenny and I have engaged in that practice with each other for about 30 years. And, that’s the, that’s the, style that, the book Warnings has. And I used to, always wait with interest and a little bit of trepidation when, I got the email from Lenny that had the Word file that had the questions.
That he was asking me about something that I had written and sent to him, and it was because the questions were always probing and, searching and hard. And, they, they, they had the effect of drawing. Into, areas of inquiry and articulation that I might not have gone to on my own. So this is one of the advantages that comes about when, when people in general are in conversation with one another.
I mean, there’s no substitute for this. And it’s 1 of the things that has led to the endangerment of democracy in the United States. That is that we see now to be, in an almost paralytic condition where we can’t engage other people in a deep, probing, serious conversation that is driven by questions that we ask each other.
So, that’s, that’s the, the impetus for the book. Now, there are a couple of other things that I want to say about why we wrote it, and the first is very simple, and something that people of our generation, Lenny’s and mine, can identify with, and that is that in Lenny’s case and mine, we are both grandfathers, and the world and the United States are pretty much in a mess right now, and we hate leaving that legacy. Especially to our grandchildren, and this book is our attempt to try to, mount a kind of resistance against those trends so that the world that our grandchildren are inheriting and growing up in might have a chance to be at least as good as the world that we knew and hopefully better.
Then, in my own case, Lenny, Lenny mentioned that what we share in common is that we’re both, people who have spent time studying and teaching about the Holocaust and we’re both philosophers. And then, in some cases, the forks in the road diverge a little bit, but one of my, serious interests academically and my teaching, has been on American topics.
I’ve been, focused on American politics, literature, religion, philosophy, culture and the like. And one of the courses that I often taught during my teaching career was called Perspectives on the American Dream. And in this class, we would look at American culture through the prism of, you know, classic works in American political thinking and literature and poetry and religion and all of these things.
And as I began to combine that interest with my interest in the Holocaust, I often spoke on the topic of American dreams and Holocaust questions. And the Holocaust became the, the point of view that raised all sorts of questions about American life for me. And at the same time, what had happened in the Holocaust, as Lenny mentioned, we saw in it the, the undermining of democracy is a kind of condition that led to the Holocaust.
My interest in Holocaust studies led me also want to defend what I saw in the American tradition that seemed to me to be right and good and just. And democracy in a nutshell, kind of liberal democracy as Lenny and I refer to it, comes to the fore as something very important.
Mickey Huff: Well, and on that note, you, you talk about Langston Hughes, in the early part of the book where you’re talking about the 11th hour and, and talk about how Americans have to remake America by redeeming, defending and expanding democracy.
And of course, the beginning of your book is the 11th hour that really kind of frames the present in a, in a very, I think, strategic and significant realistic way. That is not at all hyperbolic. And I think that that sets the tone for much of the dialogue that continues throughout the book. And of course, it’s divided into the multiple chapters on philosophy, education, religious tradition, death and the dead pandemics resistance and remembering for the future and I know I’m just kind of teasing our audience here with a lot of the ground that you cover because again, unfortunately on the radio, we can’t possibly do enough justice to the extraordinary scholarship that’s here, as well as the human experience that interprets delivers and really carves this story out and you’re, you’re both expert storytellers.
And as part of that, you also both talk about the importance of how stories are told, whose stories are told. We’ll certainly get into a little bit about the media later on into the program, but I wanted to come back and talk a little bit more specifically about how the two of you. Well, before I do this, I want to talk a little bit about how you you both have a great way of connecting past and present and you speak about them often in fluid ways.
And, my day job as an historian, that’s something that kind of speaks to me. And I think that that kind of communication is, I think, what’s required in order for people to understand the gravity and context of the things that you’re talking about now that then can give people the kinds of tools they need.
Well, to do what Langston Hughes was talking about doing right here, which is actually to well, how do we remake? How do we reimagine? How do we how do we do this as, as Americans living in a, in a completely, cacophonous, time in our history right now. So, we’re already at the 15 minute mark, so I’m going to need to take a quick station ID, and when I come back, I want to talk, with our guests Lenny Grob and John Roth more in detail about their book and get into some of the details.
I’d like to specifically talk more about some of the content that you go into. And I want to again, I want to give our listeners the opportunity to, to, to understand the many different topics that you connect here.
Historically to the present one. You talk about the state of our democracy and democracy reprieved is not democracy assured. So you talk about the 2022 2020 2022 elections. And of course, here we are in 2024 and we really have, an electoral conundrum in many ways. You also talk about the Trump presidency and the challenges to democracy that that has left us lingering and has even more on the horizon.
You talk about the significance of the rise of fascism, not just here, but abroad. You talk about Russia, Ukraine, you analyze the pandemic and much of what’s happened in our post truth world with alternative facts. So there’s an awful lot here to unpack. But Lenny, let’s go back. And I want to pose to you kind of the first of these issues, which I know the both of you are deeply concerned about.
And that’s the state of our democracy. Lenny, could you talk a little bit about how you think we, we, we got here and, what you both maybe are prescribing, things that we really should be stepping, back things we need to do.
Leonard Grob: Wow. Those are big questions.
Mickey Huff: Indeed, and you’ve addressed them.
Leonard Grob: I think that, the undermining of democracy can happen in some small steps, which then build upon each other until, low and behold, we have our democracy endangered. Certainly the election of 2016, which brought Trump to the office of the president, was a major mark in this, but in many ways, there were, there was a sense of brokenness, in our democracy, which preceded, the 2016 election. And, that sense of brokenness is still with us and has, increased in its severity.
We wrote this book with 2024 firmly in mind, even though, the, the book was published in 2023, and we tried to bring it up to date. I think through March of that year, nonetheless, our eyes were set on 2000 and, and 24. There are a number, a large number of people in the United States who have felt, that they were not fully respected, not fully regarded. The demographic changes that came quite suddenly and build up over years of the changing economic conditions, especially in what we know today of as red states, largely in the middle of our country. The, the, the road was paved somewhat, for the Trump presidency to, to happen. And I must say that I think we were, we were not as aware of our, privileged state, sometimes intellectuals in particular, isolate themselves from the everyday lives of their fellow citizens.
In other places, especially John is on the West Coast. I’m on the East Coast. We, we live, you know, among, others who have the privilege of having graduated from university and many cases. Beyond the, undergraduate years. I think that we were not as aware as we might have been preceding 2016 of what might be in store.
We want, especially using our, knowledge of what happened in the Weimar Republic, 1930s. We want to let other people, be warned in advance. Not to take for granted that the so called pillars of American democracy, all the things that we grew up with, which, have led us in some cases to think, oh, this can’t happen in the United States.
We have the structural elements. Which will prevent what happened in Germany. We wanted to sound the warning so that people will be alert, especially with now, everything has been ratcheted up. And the dangers to democracy are now more apparent than ever, and we worry a great deal about 2024.
So, if we can share a little bit of what we did see. And the need to see and the need to hear to listen carefully. If we can do that, then that is a contribution that we will have made.
Mickey Huff: Absolutely, and education, at least in my view has always been, just the prime vehicle to to address the challenges we face and we can’t really address the challenges until they’re understood and they can’t be understood unless we engage with each other.
And unless we show up and are engaged in our, in our civil society, and we can’t. Let it just for a certain group to sort of hijack the entire system. We all have to show up and do our part. And that’s difficult and challenging if we want to do it in a sustained way and in a way that’s meaningful. John Roth, to you, I want to extend the same.
Let’s, let’s extend that conversation and get your input. On this and your take on this.
John K. Roth: Yes, I’m glad to have the chance to do that. I mentioned in my opening remarks that Lenny and I are both grandfathers and that’s that’s why we wrote the book in part, which is another way of saying that we both lived a long time.
We’re, we’re in our 80s. So, sometimes it, we, we like the, the mantra, we’ve seen this movie before and, when, when we see certain things happening in the United States or in, Hungary or in, Russia or, you know, even in the Middle East now, we, we, we think back and say, yes, new things are happening, but they have kind of echoes or, you know, or, they remind us of things that have taken place, earlier and, that’s very much the, spirit that, motivated the book. It’s, it’s interesting to me to observe that, even as recently as two years ago, American scholars were nervous about referring to fascism in the current scene. Two years on, they’re not anymore. And nor is it the case that, Americans are saying, oh, it could never happen here as increasingly we hear Donald Trump parroting Adolf Hitler, (unintelligible)
Mickey Huff: yes. Right.
John K. Roth: And so, you know, I think Americans are, at least they have the opportunity to, wake up. To stop sleepwalking to stop taking things for granted and to realize that, things are not healthy with respect to our democracy, but I worry that Americans may be suffering from a failure of imagination, that they may not take seriously enough that Donald Trump could be reelected, and if he is reelected, I think Americans just don’t understand as well as they should the dangers that that could pose for things like our conversation right here. You could not just assume that Project Censored and, Mickey Huff and Lenny Grobb and John Roth could be talking freely after a Trump re election. I mean, it’s an issue, at least something worth thinking about. So, the last thing I want to say is I was very happy to hear you, remind our audience of, two things. One is that we can learn something if we have historical perspective and bring it to bear on the present. And then in that context, you cited the great, African American poet Langston, Langston Hughes, a favorite of mine.
And one of his poems, Hughes writes, “America never was America to me, but America will be. Its dream lies deep in the heart of me.” Now there, with Hughes, you could take that poem, and you could, you could educate a whole generation just by thinking of that poem. I mean, here he is, a black poet. America never was America to me.
Why would somebody say that, and yet still affirm America will be? I mean, it’s amazing the hope that Langston Hughes still had. And one of the questions that Lenny and I explore is, is a hope like that, you know, credible anymore? It certainly is something that we have to work at in order to make it credible, but studying that history is something that can teach us a lot, partly because it helps us to understand that our own American institutions, the ones that we associate very strongly with democracy, have to be watched and nurtured and cared for, lest they become tools that undermine the democracy.
One of the things that happened with Adolf Hitler, he inherited a regime that had a weak democracy, but he moved to kill democracy by using the institutions of democracy to hand him dictatorial power.
Mickey Huff: Yes.
John K. Roth: And we’re, we’re looking at a situation in 2024. Where it could be that a fair and free election leads to the return of Donald Trump to the White House, who will then proceed to attack democratic institutions, including fair and free elections.
So, this, this is the kind of predicament that Lenny and I think, Americans, and therefore other people in the world are facing, because where democracy is under attack in one place, It may come under attack in others, and that was one of the reasons that led Lenny and me to take so seriously something that we had planned to write about, but couldn’t help but write about once Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February of 2022.
Leonard Grob: Yeah, I just would add that even if Trump should lose our work, we still have a great deal of work to do. So we can’t put everything on the results of 2024. We, this is, something that will have to be worked on. Forever, as long as America exists,
Mickey Huff: A republic, if you can keep it, going back to the founding with Ben Franklin.
And of course, John, when you were talking, I couldn’t help but think of the, the quote attributed to Mark Twain, “history may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes,” and I think that there’s a lot of rhyme scheming afoot in your book. Sinclair Lewis, of course, comes to mind. That period is just rich with lessons.
Yeah. And, it’s actually a favorite isn’t the right word, but as as an historian, I gravitated a lot towards the period about which you both write, because it seems to me to be such an extraordinary springboard, if you will, for the remainder of what took place in the 20th century from World War 1 in the World War 2, and then what created the Cold War.
And we’re still dealing with so many of the institutional fractures and failures that we saw coming through the Cold War, sort of an overt control of the covert mechanisms of our government kind of taking things over, whether it’s the period of assassinations in the 60s, or all kinds of invasions and overthrows.
We have a really checkered past as, as an allegedly free society, especially not just about the way we treat the marginalized in our own societies, but the horrific way in which we’ve treated people with our foreign policies. And you both, of course, could not ignore the things that were happening in front of you in the lessons from the Holocaust by looking at Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
But my goodness, Lenny and John, since you’ve written and since the book’s publication, we have another eruption of extraordinary violence. That is, I’m, I’m often not at a loss for words, but I don’t have the right words to describe some of the things that are happening right now in the Middle East and to people and.
I think our history really has kind of led us here in a lot of ways and we’re up for another break, but I want to come back and talk about this issue. And then, of course, I want to go back and talk about one, certainly one thing that is, of interest to me, and you both write about this and, in order to protect the institutions of democracy and being and be meaningfully engaged.
We have to have a real functioning, independent, free press and fourth estate. And that’s somewhere where I’d like to go after our brief, our brief musical break. Before the break.
I posed the one of the topics that you you clearly address in the book and its significance when John Roth was talking earlier about the work we have cut out for us and the ongoing nature, the ever vigilant nature we have. Our institutions don’t just work on their own or our democracy doesn’t just somehow self function.
It’s an extension of who we are. And that extension is informed by the press. And of course, that’s been an extraordinary target of people like Donald Trump and in different ways, I would argue the Biden administration different ways. And I think the differences are meaningful and I, I, I think that the latter, are maybe.
While they may be insidious, I think they’re harder sometimes to track than the brazen authoritarian attacks on the press that not only echo Nixon, but echo the Lugan press that goes all the way back to World War 1 and 2 in Germany. Lenny Grob, the significance of the free press and the attacks you see upon it and, and maybe how we should take more seriously, what’s going on in our world of journalism and, and, and the many failures that have led us here.
Leonard Grob: You know, among the first victims of, democracy endangered is the free press. It is the guardian and if that guard is, attacked itself, we’re in deep trouble. I know, I’ve participated in some dialogue groups. I put dialogue in, in quotations. Here with, some people who are Trump supporters and what amazed me some I, some of what occurred was could have been clear to me from the onset, but what really, surprised me.
And perhaps I should not have been as surprised as I was is where their information was coming from and. how blind I was to what they were reading and what they were watching on television and looking at on their computer screens and what, what they were doing. It’s like we were living in two different universes.
The press and the media in general have to expose as many people as possible. It is the guardian of democracy, and I see, that there are ways that obviously that Trump Trump ism, I should say, has set its sights on the free press, just as we’re aware of how much it is the guardian of democracy.
So the Trump-ists are aware that this has to be the 1st of the boulders to fall. And I will say right now that Project Censored and what we’re doing at the moment. Is a good illustration of what needs to be done and what needs to be sustained and, increased. In its weight, I’m very proud to an honor to be part of this and Mickey, you’re doing really important
Mickey Huff: work.
That’s too kind of you to say. And of course, the project is also an historical, product of the 70s when it was founded, you know, when American democracy was well, it really in dire straits, Vietnam, Watergate, the exposure of the church committee, the failures of the press there only to come out looking more lionized.
Then right after that, we kind of just rebooted back into the Reagan years and it’s as if any of the lessons of the 70s were washed over by, you know, the, the euphoria of, let’s just, let’s just feel good about ourselves. And let’s, let’s go back to the narcissism and the hubris and the American exceptionalism in the worst ways that really, I don’t think have abated.
I mean, I know we had the Clintons and the Obamas, but my goodness, they both represented a rightward shift in this country. Right. And what we’ve seen in the last decade is we’ve seen a bipartisan attack on our democratic institutions. And again, I’m not, I don’t want to other side, the degree to which I’m pretending this is, is, is equal.
It’s, that would be a false equivalency. But I think that we are wise to, as you put Lenny, our work is, is ahead of us regardless. It’s just a matter of what kind and degree and, and how far we, we need to go. John Roth to you, the free press, you know, being one of the main pillars of democracy, I’d like to hear your thoughts, on that and, and moving forward and what we can do.
Let me go back
John K. Roth: to the 1930s for a moment. When Hitler came to power in January of 1933, there were journalists in Germany who, prior to his taking power, had been critical of Nazism and of Hitler in particular, Including, publishing caricatures of Hitler, which wasn’t hard to do, and they, they continued to do their work as long as they could, but I would say by 1934, within a year of, Hitler’s coming to power, the free press in Nazi Germany was, was gone.
It was toast. And, this was done by, various means of censorship, but also by murder. I talked to Mickey earlier about, the, the, attacks, the murderous attacks on journalists that are part of our world, even as we’re speaking today. And, these are symptoms of, authoritarianism and, anti democratic, perspectives.
And, you know, I’m thinking how often we would watch Donald Trump at his political rallies, and he’ll surely be doing it more and more, pointing to the, the journalists who are covering the rally and calling them enemies of the people. And, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s rhetoric that must be taken seriously.
And one of the things that we learned from studying the Holocaust is that, you fail to take seriously what a dictator says at your peril. The same thing is true, in the United States in now 2024. So, I, I would add to that, one thing about the book and then, a couple of points in particular. Lenny and I wrote this book not as a lamentation or as a kind of litany of, you know, all the things that are wrong, although we have, you know, quite a bit of that with analysis to back it up in in the chapters of the book, but in nearly every case, and we were asking each other questions, you would press each other on what can be done about this. What can you do to resist these tendencies? What practical steps can ordinary people take?
You know, ordinary folks, not people who are senators or governors or judges, but just, you know, ordinary folks like, like teachers and readers and, ordinary citizens. And so a lot of the book has, those elements. And in particular, there’s a chapter in the book, you mentioned it, earlier in the time called Resistance.
And in this chapter in particular, Lenny and I lay out what we take to be steps of resistance that need to be taken now to prevent democracy from being further endangered. But these would be steps that would be even more important to take should Donald Trump win re election. So, I, I had in one part of the chapter on resistance, I listed seven things to talk about.
I’ll mention just two. One is And these are not about, you know, we need to have a stronger Senate or we need to have this law or this policy. These, these are our points that Lenny and I are making that are more, I would say, philosophical points in the sense that they are about ethics. They’re about discerning what’s right and what isn’t.
So, the first point that I made, and Lenny has echoed this a lot in his writing, too, is we have to defend the idea of truth. That there, that there is such a thing as, a difference between what’s true and what’s false. It’s pretty basic. But Donald Trump has treated, just as Adolf Hitler did, in big lies.
Repeating them again and again until they get normalized and get accepted. And, the first step to take to resist this is to respect truth. But the second thing that I listed right after that was support freedom of the press. Now, when I go on to talk about what does that mean for an ordinary person like myself?
Well, it means I have to read. And I have to listen, and I have to take into account a range of sources, and I have to learn the lessons that Project Censored teaches. That is to be listening for what’s not reported, one point. And secondly, to be aware that a lot of what is reported is what Project Censored calls junk food news.
Utterly irrelevant stuff. That comes across the newscasts or in the newspapers, that, that really is, maybe interesting. But unimportant compared to the really big stuff.
Mickey Huff: We’re inundated by a lot of distractions.
John K. Roth: Yeah, lots of distractions. So, so now, what does this mean for how an ordinary person can participate in resistance?
That involves supporting freedom of the press. Well, one thing that I did, and that a lot of people do, is you subscribe to things. You subscribe to newspapers, to journalism that you think is important. You become a member of, you know, projects that carry on the spirit of freedom of the press, which is, as we’ve all said, fundamentally important for the health of democracy.
So anyway, that’s part of what we have articulated in the book in a practical kind of way about what we can do.
Mickey Huff: Indeed. It is. And so there’s so many other things we want to want to get to here and we have, we have a couple minutes left in this segment segment, but I, I would like to, to ask you all if we could extend our conversation to the end of the hour, because.
You’re both just treasure troves of wisdom and information. And I, if I could, I’d like to squeeze more of that out for our audience, today. And, and one of the things I wanted to put to you, both of you, and we’ll, we’ll, we’ll get into that and we’ll have to take a break in a few minutes and then we can come back and revisit, but a lot has changed since, I mean, well, some things have changed, some hasn’t, but one of the things I kind of want to pose to you is what’s different now.
Do you both think versus when you started writing this book a couple of years ago, it comes out in 2023 mid 2023 and then as both of you are acutely aware, as scholars of Holocaust and genocide that term has reentered our our lexicon, it’s, it’s been, it’s been not just floated around flippantly, but now at the international court from, from South Africa, where the state of Israel is, is being accused of, of, committing genocide in, of the Palestinian people.
And I, I think that, I think our listeners would benefit greatly if, if each of you might, maybe take on some of that huge or difficult topic and share some of your thoughts with it. We could start with you, Lenny.
Leonard Grob: Wow,
Mickey Huff: Sorry, that’s huge.
Leonard Grob: No, I, I do some work in this area actually, and, read and listen carefully to the South African presentation and the response by Israelis today.
Look. One has to be very careful about the use of the term genocide. Because if it is bandied about and not used with care and certain distinctions, of course, based on the original, the original definition of it, and how that definition was incorporated, into the UN, work on, genocide, if it’s just bandied about, it can lose meaning.
And all together. So I do want to say this is a very complex situation, rather than, debating, whether this was this is or is not genocide. I think we need to focus on what kinds of things can be done right now to alleviate the suffering, especially I’m talking about the suffering of the Palestinian people right now, after 3 months of the.
Siege, on the part of Israel. So, I’m going to, I’ve got to not respond directly to your question, but rather to say that, there is a lot of evil writ large here. Yet it’s a complex situation. And, I think we need to attend to the suffering of both peoples right now, the suffering of Palestinian peoples is right in front of us and is ongoing. You have two traumatized peoples here. The, in terms of the, of the Jewish Israelis, especially the re traumatization of, being heirs to the Holocaust, certainly is an important trigger in, in what’s happening. Palestinians have had their own trauma with the Nakba.
And so you have two parties who have been re traumatized now and currently so, my emphasis is always on what can be done. I do a lot of work at the U. N. And I do work on, preparing peace proposals and so on, rather than, casting my law with whether there is a genocide going on or not genocide
Mickey Huff: That makes a lot of sense. That’s the voice of Lenny Grob, co author of Warnings: The Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy. John Roth, I will pose the same question. To you, a lot has happened since you began writing the book together. And we just heard Lenny talking about the last three months of what’s been happening with Israel and Palestine.
And of course, that’s now drawing even more and more conflict and tension, with Yemen and Iran. I mean, the whole region. I mean, and you two being so historically erudite realize how quickly these old conflicts spin wildly out of control. Hello, World War one. And then. Gosh, a brief pause and all the Weimar collapse to get to the next massive human calamity of World War Two.
John Roth, what are your thoughts? On on what’s happening now, since you’ve all written this and, like Lenny suggested, you know, what are some things we, we might be focusing on to, to, to alleviate such carnage and suffering? I
John K. Roth: well, thank you. Mickey, I want to say three things. The first is that Lenny in his remarks was too modest about himself because Lenny is a person who, as long as I have known him, has been working often on the ground, West Bank and other places to do reconciling work, Palestinians and Israelis.
He referenced, his work with the United Nations, which is ongoing, but that work took him to, to Israel, before October 7th, where he continued, you know, to, to do the work of, bringing people together kind of at the grassroots level. So, Lenny is a person who is very much, hands on, in a practical kind of way.
Doing everything he can to, forestall, the suffering and the injustice that has broken out again, since October 7th. So the second thing I would say is that, if this October 7th violence had taken place while Lenny and I were writing this book we could have had to write about it just as we had to write about Ukraine.
And it’s not totally clear to me, everything that we would have said about it, but I know that my, inclination would be to at least raise, the question about whether the problems that we have seen now erupting since October 7th has something to do with the endangerment or the lack of democracy.
I think that an argument could be made, that, you know, the Israelis have certainly been struggling with their form of endangered democracy. And, if we think about, Hamas on the other hand, I don’t think it would stand out at the top of the list of the, pro democracy, realities in the in the world.
So, that would be one thing I would at least want to explore. Now, one thing I’m trying to do, presently is, work on a, on a book project. Where I am trying to bring together, Christian scholars. have devoted a lot of their work to Christian Jewish relations, and this is relevant to, the Holocaust part of our book, because, one of the things that we’re trying, Christians who study the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust discover is that the Christian tradition is deeply implicated in the genocide.
And so one of the things in the post Holocaust world that has happened is that there have been a cadre, a cohort of Christians who have worked really hard to try to, improve and correct issues that involve Christians and Jews. So, after October 7th, a colleague of mine and I got the idea that it’s time for Christians like me who have worked on these things to speak up about the Hamas Israel, Israel war and to, to, respond to questions like, You know, have there been war crimes committed?
Have, have there been crimes against humanity? Has genocide, taken place? To do this in, in the spirit of, being honest and hopefully trying to keep open the conversation that Christians need to keep having with Jews. And, it’s interesting as, as this work unfolds to see that, you know, immediately there were some of my, my colleagues, colleagues in this area who said, yes, of course, let’s write about that.
And then others who said, well, I’m not so sure I want to go there that that can get uncomfortable. That could be problematic. And, so, you know, this is an ongoing project and we’ll, and we’ll see where it leads. But I think there are serious, serious questions and, you know, the solution has to include in some way or other, I believe a two state, solution.
I don’t think there’s another way out, but that doesn’t mean that a way out will be found.
Mickey Huff: Well, Lenny Grob we have a few minutes left and I wanted to get some final words for now from each of you on moving forward as part of that. I would like you to take a couple minutes. If you could to make any other points or continue where John left off making any other points that that you find to be relevant for the time we have left.
And also to each of you, please feel free to share with our audience ways in which they can maybe find more of your work or or follow along. With it again, your most recent is Warnings: the Holocaust, Ukraine and Endangered American Democracy from Cascade Books. Lenny Grob. Yeah,
Leonard Grob: I would say, certainly that one lesson that I’m continuing to learn in deeper and deeper ways is that I need to be more of a public intellectual. I, I think that, you know, there’s a certain way in which a lot of my early works, not the work I’ve done with John, but a lot of the works I did early in my career were in a kind of standard academic, format, which has its own benefits and joys and such.
But I think at this juncture, We have to speak out and, of course, we can put our bodies and rallies and demonstrations, but we also have to use what, our gifts and our experience has brought to us and to make sure that we speak more publicly. This is 1, lesson that I think is is very, very important in terms of my, my own work.
I would, I belong, work with two organizations. And, the one that I would recommend looking at is called the International Peace Consultancy. It’s just peaceconsultancy.Org and I know that it’s hard for listeners, right now to get that down. But, this is the work I’m doing at the U. N.
with others and, the work that we do on the ground.
Mickey Huff: We will certainly share those links with the show and we’ll make sure they’re available at the projectcensored.Org website. So people can follow those. So I will certainly follow up with the both of you to make sure I have included any of that kind of information.
Certainly for our listeners and John, John Roth, the same to you.
John K. Roth: Okay, just two things, maybe conclusion, if people are interested in finding out more about Warnings, the book, you can go to Amazon dot com, go to the publishers website, which is a Wipf and Stock, W I P F, and stock, like in the stock market.
They have a good site that would tell more about the book and how people could get it. Last thing I want to say is that, my experience in learning and teaching about the Holocaust, underscored for me, the importance of taking nothing good for granted. But what I sensed as I studied that history was how fast things change.
Once Hitler and his Nazi party came to power very quickly, that regime didn’t last, all that long 12 years, but it did immense harm to the world. We’re still wrestling with and, Americans are prone to take democracy for granted, but we shouldn’t because it’s in trouble and it’s in danger and it could disappear and there are steps that we can take that, would prevent that from happening, but unless Americans, wake up and tune in, and that would include, you know, following the work of Project Censored.
We could be in a world of hurt (unintelligible) folks.
Mickey Huff: Well, John Roth, I want to thank you so much for taking time to join us today. Edward J. Sexton, professor emeritus of philosophy at Claremont mechanic college, co author with Lenny Grob, professor emeritus of philosophy at Farley Dickinson University, their latest book Warnings: The Holocaust, Ukraine and Endangered American Democracy. And certainly on the show here, we like when we have folks go in and grabbing books, we like to steer them maybe away from Amazon and towards bookshop. org or to a local independent store near you. Because our not friend, Jeff Bezos probably doesn’t need more help, help for business.
But gentlemen, it’s an honor to, be with you today. I just want to make sure that our audience knows that the show is pre recorded. It is January 12th. The program will air sometime in the next week or so, but it’s important that I want to put the date out there, because as you said, moments ago, John, things can change very quickly.
And there, there often are things that will happen tomorrow that, you know, again, we didn’t, we just couldn’t get to today, but your book, both Lenny and John, Warnings, I think is a really important roadmap for people to understand where we’ve been and how we got here and you both lay out extraordinary prescriptions for what you think we need to do and what would benefit not just ourselves in the United States, but the world as a whole.
And I want to thank the both of you for your extraordinary work and for sharing it with our audience today. Lenny Grob, John Roth. Thank you so much.
Leonard Grob: Thank you, Mickey, and for the important work you do.
John K. Roth: Yes. Thanks, Mickey. And keep the good work going.
Mickey Huff: Indeed.