Ben Langhinrichs

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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Tue 26 Jun 2007, 08:08 AM
I have to preface this by saying that I love the country and people of Germany, and have visited every year for several years.  While I am not of German heritage, despite my name which is from my wife's family, I feel a strong affection for the country.  Nonetheless, you have to wonder when you read a story such as this one on CNN, which says:
Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology which the German government does not recognize as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.
Now, I am not a huge fan of either Tom Cruise or Scientology, but it seems the height of irony that the German government would practice both religious discrimination and gratuitous religious labelling in a movie about Adolf Hitler.  The lesson of the Holocaust should not be "don't persecute Jews", but rather "don't persecute people based on their religious beliefs, whether you like those beliefs or not".  While the German government may not consider Scientology a religion, it hardly seems to be their right to decide in a case like this.  Even more amazing is that a government that must remember the yellow stars which Jews were required to wear in Hitler's Germany cannot see that denying involvement with a film studio due to the religious orientation of one of its members is getting pretty close to the same sort of religious labelling.  I really would have thought the German government would have learned its lesson by now.

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