ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Heavy reading these days

So, I’m continuing the World War 2 research.  I’m planning to draft it during National Novel Writing Month and I recommend this to anyone who needs that little extra bump to get moving on a project.  I’m nowhere near through with my research but it’s time to start writing an actual story.  I still don’t know where this project is going!

Anyway, earlier this week I finally finished dragging myself through Kristallnacht, a book by Martin Gilbert.  The accounts of Kristallnacht itself (when Nazi Germany erupted in “spontaneous demonstrations” against its Jewish citizens, destroying businesses and homes and arresting people and burning down synagogues) are harrowing enough.  And the chapter about the world closing its doors and turning its back on these people, even after the world knew all about the violence and outright thievery directed against them, is hard reading too.  But the worst part was how Gilbert summarized the deportations and mass killings.  A thousand a day, for seventeen days, and then all the Jews from City X were gone.

I’ve heard the six million figure as long as I can remember, and the three million ethnic Poles, and however many of other groups.  And it’s horrible.  Somehow, thinking about a thousand a day for however many days makes it more horrible.  It’s kind of like Matthew Shepherd and those guys who killed him saying he was intimidating when Matthew Shepherd was 5’2″ tall.

Anyway, I’m not sharing this to depress people.  But I’ve made another decision about the direction that the research is taking.  The Holocaust is a story that’s been told, by survivors, by those who were lost, by people who were there, and by people who weren’t but are far more eloquent than I am.  I want to write about the young people who fought and won the war.  And not just soldiers but underground, and all the support people.  Society didn’t really have the concept of New Adult then so I feel like I’m putting a new social construct onto an older society.  But all I can do is try.

I’m still waiting for a critique (I can’t remember if I wrote about that here and I can’t be bothered to look right now) of the first thousand words of What You Stand For.  It’s with an agent and I’m waiting to hear yes or no before I send it out again.  And yes, I have a new opening scene!  I figured out that what I really needed to do with the opening scene was to 1) show what kind of book this is; 2) show what kind of people these are; and 3) get the main conflict moving in the first scene.  I’m putting that up tonight too, so I hope everyone enjoys it.

I also want to say how grateful I am that people are following me–and reading and commenting.  I started this blog in the interests of getting myself out there as a writer, but now I’m enjoying it for its own sake.  It’s just a way to interact with the world as a professional even before I’ve made any sales or done any publishing.  And I hope you’re all enjoying the journey too.

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Telling the Truth

So, those who’ve known me for a while know that I’m a person who values the truth. I believe in telling the truth whenever possible. I find it very difficult to lie. As a kid I almost never got away with anything. And I can keep other people’s secrets, but not my own.

Similarly, sometimes I create a little trouble on Facebook, when I see friends who’ve fallen for various memes and reposts which are composed entirely of lies. I feel bad sometimes about calling people out on these, but at the same time I think it’s my duty to correct misapprehensions. Incidentally, I do this for both sides of the aisle; the problem is that I see an awful lot of criticisms of President Obama that are lies, but the ones about George Bush or Michelle Bachmann? A lot of the time, I wish they were lies but they are true.

You might think that correcting people’s misinformation about Valerie Jarrett or putting in your PIN number backwards will summon the police is just me being provocative. Why do I spend so much time finding good sources on the things I’m reading about? Don’t I know that most people won’t look at the links and wouldn’t be convinced if they did? After all, trying to explain things to many people is a bit like shouting at a brick.

Well, I’m working on the World War II research while I wait to hear back from the agent who has my sample. And today I ran across David Irving, Holocaust denier. He’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are an awful lot of these people out there. People who actually believe in the International Jewish Conspiracy. And they believe that our government was complicit in a huge lie perpetrated on the whole world.

I live in a place where there’s a government lab, and I spent a summer working in DC as an intern. And can I just say that our government isn’t organized enough to conspire to sharpen a pencil, let alone build a hoax like that?

I’ve been reading quite a bit on the Jewish Virtual Library, which details the history of Holocaust denial. I’m just blown away by the kind of time people put into figuring out how to pretend it didn’t happen. And everyone knows it wasn’t only Jewish people who were murdered. It was also ethnic Poles, Communists, Roma, homosexuals, political prisoners, feminists, you get the idea. Although I’m convinced that this Mr. Irving does believe the Holocaust happened. He just discovered that denying it paid well.

So people who deny the Holocaust are basically just making money for that guy.

Anyway, I’ve been following this line of thought for a couple of days, and I’d like to take some time now to debunk the kinds of things I’ve been reading online or thinking about or whatever. In no particular order, and without documentation (because I’m supposed to be researching a book, remember?)

1. The separation of church and state is a good idea. It was first promoted by Roger Williams, who didn’t want the dirty government to mess with his nice church. And really, prayer in school? America is supposed to be about BELONGING, not about finding new ways to split people. Do you really think making Jewish kids pray to Jesus is a good thing to do? Putting religious words into the mouths of people who don’t believe them is nothing but hypocrisy. On your part, not theirs.

2. Most of you hate President Obama because you’ve been told to, not because you have objectively looked at him or paid attention. I hate George Bush, but at least I know why. You make it difficult for people like me to look at the president critically because you might use my words against him.

3. Facts are. Your opinion doesn’t change that.

4. The purpose of government is to work for the common good. That’s why we have roadwork, AFDC, food stamps, and many other things people seem to rail against. There aren’t enough private contributions to take care of these things, although I suppose in the case of roadwork we could just all pay a toll every time we drive somewhere.

5. How to tell if a post is fake: 1) look it up on Snopes. 2) Does it sound completely ridiculous? 3) Does it have a cute little graphic to go with it? 4) Does it sound like, if true, it would be a crime?  Is it really that hard to pay attention? Don’t repost things that are clearly false!

6. Don’t repost photos of sick children. Facebook, CNN, or whatever is not going to give a donation based on you reposting a stolen picture of an ill or deceased child.

Looking over my list, do you know what it is I’m really annoyed about? Rampant, willful ignorance. Seriously, if you can’t be intelligent at least be quiet.

I know, I’m supposed to be working. So I’m off to do that now.

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