Guilt and responsibility

Further to Doug’s eloquently silent post of the 27th instant: I’ve only noticed it now, but Amitai Etzioni put up a remarkable essay on his website a couple of days ago. It’s the English translation of an article he published in the S?ddeutsche Zeitung. That article, which you will have to pay money to the S?ddeutsche to read, has a rather better title than the translation does, but never mind that: just go to Etzioni’s site and read the thing.

Etzioni’s themes are guilt and responsibility. That’s all somewhat abstract, perhaps, considered in vacuo, but it is made sharply concrete by the facts that the article appears to have been occasioned by the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and that Etzioni is a Jew. What’s more (and this I had not known), he is a Jew from Germany (a K?lner, in fact), who as a child witnessed the highly civilised country of his birth transform into a ravening beast.

It would be perfectly understandable if Etzioni, as one of the rare Jews to escape the beast’s maw, dismissed his first homeland with a hearty ‘to hell with the lot of you, then’. He doesn’t, though.

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