In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a sobering 2011 piece by David Rieff about the persistence of genocide:

Since 1945, “never again” has meant, essentially, “Never again will Germans kill Jews in Europe in the 1940s.” There is nothing wrong with this. But there is also nothing all that right with it either. Bluntly put, an undeniable gulf exists between the frequency with which the phrase is used—above all on days of remembrance most commonly marking the Shoah, but now, increasingly, other great crimes against humanity—and the reality, which is that 65 years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, “never again” has proved to be nothing more than a promise on which no state has ever been willing to deliver. When, last May, the writer Elie Wiesel, himself a former prisoner in Buchenwald, accompanied President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel to the site of the camp, he said that he had always imagined that he would return some day and tell his father’s ghost that the world had learned from the Holocaust and that it had become a “sacred duty” for people everywhere to prevent it from recurring. But, Wiesel continued, had the world actually learned anything, “there would be no Cambodia, and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.”

At the New York Times, Karen Stohr argues that our politics needs less contempt—and maybe more anger:

A fundamental feature of contempt is that...it is directed at the entire person, rather than just some aspect of that person. It is thus unlike other negative attitudes, like anger. If I express anger toward you, I am engaging with you. If I express contempt toward you, I am dismissing you. The distinction is crucial.

Republican lawmakers are now suggesting that they plan to replace the Affordable Care Act not with an alternative plan, but with a series of small reforms. New York magazine's Jonathan Chait explains why this is unlikely to work:

Republicans are portraying the lack of a plan as a philosophical aversion to lengthy legislation. “If you’re waiting for another 2,700-page bill to emerge, you’re going to have to wait until the sun doesn’t come up, because that’s not how we’re going to do it,” says Walden. You may not need 2,700 pages of legislative text. But you can’t blow up the health-care system and replace it with a series of piecemeal measures. Any real plan to provide even crappy coverage—let alone the better, more affordable coverage Trump has repeatedly promised—is going to need to be paid for. Making those trade-offs means figuring out some big-picture strategy for where the money will come from.

The reason health-care reform is done by assembling a big bill with a high page count is that all the stakeholders want to know beforehand whether the final product will be acceptable to them. Hospitals or insurers or doctors or drug makers might be willing to accept provisions that hurt their bottom line if there are other provisions that help them. But they won’t support passing a bill that hurts them on the promise of getting help in a future bill, because they don’t know whether the future bill will pass. Going step by step is a talking point, not a plausible way to actually write laws.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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