Yes, of course we understand where the impulse is coming from here but it’s a bad one, something we shouldn’t do. Nazi memorabilia may indeed be collected by pinheads but it is and should remain entirely legal to both be a pinhead and act like one:
A medal awarded to a Nazi soldier who took five bullets meant for Adolf Hitler has sold for a “world record” price. The Blutorden Blood Order Medal was awarded to Ulrich Graf, who helped protect Hitler when he tried to seize power in Bavaria in November 1923 – an event known as The Beer Hall Putsch. The item fetched nine times its £3,500-£4,000 asking price at auction after selling for £36,500 at Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers’ Militaria Auction on July 26.
That’s just the background. The error is here:
Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, suggested that regulation was needed to prohibit the sale of Nazi memorabilia and criticised the comments. She told The Telegraph: “It has long been our view that it is not appropriate for items like this to be on the market for personal profit or macabre interest but rather placed in archives, museums or in an educational context.”
“Several leading auction houses and online sites already rightly refuse to sell such material and many countries have banned the sale of Nazi memorabilia. Perhaps it is time for clearer regulation on the sale of these items here in the UK.”
You’re entirely free to hold the view you do, that it’s inappropriate. We’re also entirely free to tell you to bugger off when you say the law should be changed. Because pinheadness is and should remain legal.
This is before we even get to the next point. Insisting that such items may not be sold is to confiscate the property of those who already own them. Ready for that? The confiscation of the personal property of those you disapprove of? We do have a name for that sort of place and it’s not a free society now, is it?
There is also the further gripping hand argument. Which is to point out that sure, in one sense, the Holocaust was unique and thus so were the Nazis. But how far does our ban then go? To fellow travellers like Mussolini’s regime? Salazar, Franco, Stroessner? Or should we look at regimes that equally killed tens of millions on ideological grounds? The Hammer and Sickle is to be banned as a piece of personal property? Lenin medals?
For while the Holocaust was unique in the one sense, who against and how it was perpetrated, the mass slaughter itself isn’t and hasn’t been in the slightest. From the Holodomor to Pol Pot even the 20th century has numerous examples. And no, while there’s an historical difference between being killed for being a Jew and killed for being a bourgeois eyeglass wearer, there’s not a moral difference is there?
The correct answer is in that first hand though. We wish to have a free and liberal society. That means that everyone else gets to do all sorts of things that we disapprove of, dislike, find distasteful and won’t be having with that. Including pinheadery. We have to tolerate those things – in the absence of direct third party harm that is – precisely so that we have a liberal and free society where they also allow us to get on with our things they disapprove of.
For, and this is to be horribly crude and vicious about it, once we’re in a society that bans things on ideological grounds how long is it before someone starts banning Jews? The current state of the Arab world suggests not long…..