Roger Hallam’s insult to Holocaust victims

The Extinction Rebellion founder joins other misanthropes in demeaning the memory of the Holocaust.

Frank Furedi


No doubt many people were appalled when they heard that Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, had told the German weekly die Zeit that there was nothing special about the Holocaust. He said genocides happen all the time. ‘In fact’, he said, ‘you might say it is like a regular event’. As far as Hallam is concerned, the Holocaust is ‘just another fuckery in history’. He’s effectively saying the Holocaust is no big deal – it is ‘almost a normal event’.

In recent years, numerous commentators have sought to empty the Holocaust of its unique historical significance. But Hallam’s attempt to normalise the Holocaust marks a new low in the trivialisation of this unique crime. His remarks are not only insensitive – they are self-consciously insulting to the memory of the millions of victims who suffered unprecedented degradation and terror in the Nazi death camps.

Hallam is by no means the first political activist to usurp the memory of the Holocaust for the purpose of promoting vile propaganda. Animal-rights activists in Canada refer have talked about a holocaust of seals. Anti-abortion campaigners in the US have denounced a holocaust of fetuses. In Australia, there is talk about a holocaust against Aborigines. The word ‘holocaust’ has been appropriated and manipulated to attack just about any target, from the erosion of biodiversity to the loss of jobs.

When the Holocaust becomes an overused metaphor for evil, it starts to get detached from its historical significance. Far too often the Holocaust has become Disneyfied, turned into an entertainment spectacle. Others have developed the unfortunate habit of using the Holocaust to make a rhetorical point. For Hallam, it seems the shock value of the Holocaust proved so irresistible that it outweighed other considerations, such as whether it is appropriate to treat such an event as just another outburst of ‘fuckery’.

Many will view Hallam’s words as a slip of the tongue or a simple error of judgment. However, it is important to realise that his contempt for the memory of the Holocaust is underpinned by today’s broader anti-humanist sensibility and sense of loathing for the legacy of human achievement. Its youthful and idealistic image notwithstanding, Extinction Rebellion is fuelled by an age-old misanthropic impulse. If you genuinely believe that the generations of the past have systematically destroyed the planet, then it makes a warped kind of sense to portray the Holocaust as just a footnote to thousands of years of ceaseless human depravity and ecocide.

The ideology of Extinction Rebellion is founded on the conviction that the development of human civilisation, particularly the advance of science and technology and the subordination of the natural order to the needs of human society, is the source of all of today’s problems. The idea that civilisation bears responsibility for the perils of extinction implicitly assigns a low status to the human species. In fact, it expresses a sense of loathing for the human species. In numerous ecological treatises, people are regularly portrayed as loathsome parasites who threaten the existence of the Earth. That kind of sentiment is not a million miles away from the way the Nazis regarded the Jews. Of course, Hallam is no Nazi – but he is fixated with the project of saving the planet from people, to the point where he seems to have become desensitised to human suffering itself. That is why he can dismiss the Holocaust as just another ‘fuckery’.

The best response to people like Hallam is to take very seriously the unique significance of the Holocaust. And the best way of making sure that something like the Holocaust never happens again is to restore confidence in humanity and develop a robust 21st-century alternative to the depressing politics peddled by misanthropes.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Steve Eason, published under a creative commons licence.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


farkennel smith

24th November 2019 at 10:30 pm

It`s always amusing to see the aborigines claim they are victims of a hol0caust.Their numbers are growing every year and billions are spent on them along with a constant stream of grovelling apologies.They are like Al Sharpton,the only man in history who grew to obesity while on a hunger strike.

Winston Stanley

24th November 2019 at 4:24 am

Inside China’s concentration camps holding up to three million Muslim prisoners subjected to a regime of modern surveillance and old-fashioned torture – as one survivor recounts how you can be executed for laughing

Former camp inmate Sayragul Sauytbay, inset, said she witnessed inmates of a Chinese concentration camp raped repeatedly in front of 200 men and women. Authorities insist young Muslim children are taught Chinese and learn the nation’s culture and history. If Muslims are suspected of not being patriotic enough, they risk being sent to a re-education camp, right, where they face torture.

Hugh Roper

23rd November 2019 at 10:04 pm

Frank writes: ‘The word ‘holocaust’ has been appropriated and manipulated to attack just about any target, from the erosion of biodiversity to the loss of jobs’. Probably so, but the Nazi Holocaust, even if abbreviated to ‘the Holocaust’ has no right to a monopoly on the use of the word without the ‘Nazi’ epithet. The bombings of Hamburg, Coventry and Nagasaki were all holocausts.

Lord Anubis

22nd November 2019 at 12:09 pm

To my mind, the uniqueness of the Holocaust is misinterpreted.

There is nothing at all new in the story of Human civilisation about the vanquished in any conflict being enslaved or slaughtered. If one was to do a “Bill and Teds” journey and bring a Roman Consul or Genghis Khan back for a guided tour of Auschwitz the reaction would likely to be “Damn, I wish we had had a place that. So much better than all that messy sword work”

Even in the 20th century, all across the globe, large numbers of defenceless people have been slaughtered for various reasons (Mostly politics, but control of land and resources was also a major factor) and indeed, frequently on a scale that made the Nazi death camps look like prototype pilot plants. So, the facts of the mass slaughter are not unique nor particularly special.

However. What does make the Holocaust special is who did it. All other examples of this sort of mass slaughter are either historic and lie in the past, sometimes the distant past. Or, and this is actually quite racist in a funny sort of way, were carried out by “Barbarians”.

IE (And this is the racist bit really) We take it for granted that Black people, Brown people, Yellow people, and even “Uncivilised ” white people (The Russians) will go around slaughtering each other on a whim.

But we are taken aback when a cultured, civilised, and technically sophisticated European nation does it. Because, you know, this sort of thing is only to be expected of the uncivilised inferior barbarians, “We” however are supposed to be better than that!

And this is where the big Holocaust “Myth” comes in.

The Myth is not regarding whether or not it happened, nor is it regarding the scale of the operation.

The myth is this “That the Holocaust was carried out in great secrecy by a small number of dedicated and evil fanatics” (And that they therefore they must be hunted down and tried for their actions)

This Myth is perpetrated to this day and reinforced through the farce of dragging out and trying in court 90-year-old “Boy Soldiers” in juvenile courts over alleged acts carried nearly 80 years ago when they were teenagers.

It was none of these things. It was a vast industrial scale operation that involved the active participation of hundreds of thousands of perfectly ordinary people who were simply given a job to do and then got on with it, and the passive participation and support of tens of millions (Who benefitted from being able to occupy the buildings and land that had become available because the Jewish former owners had been spirited away). Not just in Germany, but all over Europe (Occupied or not).

The reason why this myth is perpetrated has many possible explanations. But to my mind it is mainly maintained because many people simply cannot accept that perfectly ordinary people are capable of doing something like this simply because they are told to and by the same token, are unable to face the truth that there is no nation or society anywhere on the planet, no matter how wealthy, cultured or technically sophisticated, that is more than 5 years away from the death camps. All it takes is the right set of circumstances and a political leadership able to make the case.

William Murphy

22nd November 2019 at 9:42 am

Seeing how some eco enthusiasts want to reduce the human population to one billion or less….what happens to the inconvenient six billion plus? No wonder Roger Hallam is so indifferent to the Holocaust. Six million is a minor detail compared with the eco culling to come.

“Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, German architect of the masterplan, dubbed the Great Transformation, warned back in 2009 that unless the world heeds his message, 6 billion people would perish.”

George Orwell

21st November 2019 at 8:15 pm

The uniqueness of the Holocaust lies not just in the vast numbers of innocents whose lives were snuffed out but in the idea that a so called modern society could use public administration, science and technology to destroy members of its own society by first depersonalising them and then by disposing of them as if they were insects.
It was the industrialisation of the process that was so shocking and it occurred on a scale vastly greater than any other deliberate murder sprees of the past.
Greater numbers did die under Stalin and in China but more as a result of incompetence and neglectful malice rather than via a carefully planned process of elimination.
The Holocaust was indeed unique (so far).

antoni orgill

25th November 2019 at 6:26 pm

yes, the Stalinists were just slapdash … pity …

Ronald Bentley

21st November 2019 at 7:56 pm

To Michael Lynch, Bismark died in 1898.
It was Von Hindenburg who appointed Hitler.

Michael Lynch

21st November 2019 at 8:12 pm

Sorry. Thanks for the correction.

James Knight

21st November 2019 at 5:48 pm

It is almost routine for eco activists to compare human beings to locusts or cockroaches.
Unlike the Nazis they don’t single out a particular race, it is the entire human race they despise.

It is equal opportunity hatred.

Linda Payne

21st November 2019 at 12:00 pm

The holocaust has been taken out of its historical concept for decades; I remember during the Bosnian war that prison camps were being depicted as death camps and that the holocaust was seen as a result of certain people’s makeup and a problem within sections of humanity itself not as a result of a brutal war; this is dangerous thinking because it actually blames humanity itself

Jerry Owen

21st November 2019 at 9:44 am

‘Hallam is no Nazi’ do we know that ? Anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise on the left, and let us not forget the original Nazis were led by socialist Adolf Hitler. The left are getting ever more brazen ever more vicious the more their policies are rejected by the masses.
We must never forget that the Nazis got to power more by apathy from the masses than support from the masses.
We must fight XR a group incidentally that is very worryingly given lots of public support from our media.
Hallam is ‘the’ leader a man that clearly holds human life in low esteem. We have been told by these people what their aims are.. to overthrow the system and people will die in the process’.
When these people are on the streets we need to be there to oppose them.
‘They shall not pass !’

Michael Lynch

21st November 2019 at 10:59 am

In fact, Hitler was propelled to power by the German media and rich industrialists in the 30s. They feared the rise of the Communist Party who enjoyed support from a large proportion of the electorate. Nearly 70% of the German people never bought into National Socialism. Instead, Hitler had friends in very high places and it was Bismarck himself who gave him the Chancellorship. It all went downhill very quickly from there on. The XR crowd seem to be enjoying the same media spotlight and support from the rich! The man is an absolute disgrace and I suspect he’s playing to Labour’s Momentum cronies who’ll throw in behind him now they think he dislikes Jews.

Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 4:21 pm

Yet another reply in moderation.

Michael Lynch

22nd November 2019 at 8:44 am

Should have been Hindenburg not Bismarck! Probably thinking about Hitler’s flagship instead of his blimp. That’ll teach me not to be such a smartarse.

Jim Lawrie

23rd November 2019 at 9:55 am

Michael your use of the word propelled was probably responsible for that blimp.

Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 4:20 pm

A few years ago I was asked by two 16yr olds visiting me in London why everywhere they went there was a Holocaust memorial. The Tate Modern, Imperial War Museum, British Museum, Maritime Museum. Elsewhere, The Museum of Religion in Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Galleries, Museums and galleries in Edinburgh. They were fed up with it.
These girls are now in their twenties and full of what is now learned at University. However, they are heartily sick of Holocaust memorials and reminders, more so than they were back then. This now coupled with a view that these mausoleums are being pushed, being pushed by Jews, are a deixe to shut them up about Palestine and Israel. It is not hard to see where this leads.

In none of these museums is the Holocaust a pay section.
In one of them, when I realised I was being herded into the Holocaust exhibition, I turned and found myself going against the flow of people. A member of staff intervened and told me I was going “the wrong way”, that I had “had to turn round and follow the crowd”. I refused and she started the health and safety script. I made sure everyone could hear what this was about, and a few people joined me. We were then asked to leave the museum.
This is how they claim visitor numbers in the hundreds of thousands for these guilt trips.

Youngsters are now reacting as youngsters do and damaging these shrines. They have no end of choice in that respect.

Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 4:31 pm

deixe = device

antoni orgill

25th November 2019 at 6:32 pm


Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 9:33 am

Hallam is able to do this because there is no discussion of The Holocaust. It is constantly used to guilt trip and shut us up. People are fed up with this, suspicious of it, and sympathetic to the likes of Hallam’s dismissal of it because that is a justifiable response to those who want to control debate on it.
Here on Spіkеd, the use of words like Jеwiѕh, Hоlоcauѕt etc … sees posts go automatically to moderation for several days, and released when the debate has moved on. So called champions of free speech fail to see the problems they cause with their exceptions.

Alex Cameron

21st November 2019 at 3:23 pm

Wind your neck in… it’s an algorithm.

Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 3:43 pm

If you object to what I have posted contact the moderators.

Describing it as an algorithm does not imbue it neutrality, nor alter the fact that it is a few lines of code, dictated by a person, accessing a file of reserved words, defined by the publication.
I’ve cut and pasted text from articles and seen it go into moderation.

Should I need you advice on posting, I’ll be sure to ask for it. In the meantime, smart Alex, perhaps you could tell us more about this “algorithm”.

antoni orgill

25th November 2019 at 6:33 pm

I’m laughing while simultaneously trying to really understand the joke … eventually … no, you’ll have to explain it …

Jerry Owen

21st November 2019 at 6:01 pm

If we are allowed to discuss the Holocaust we have to then include talking about the whole Nazi era.. if you ignore the well stuck on labels, it becomes apparent that Hitler and his regime were on the left of politics, ie anti bankers ( nationalize the banks was what they wanted ) anti capitalist (Hitler declared this himself) . They would be fully supportive of the EU if they were around now , of that there is no doubt.
The left realized the Holocaust was so evil that they as victors against the Nazis pinned it on them and have convinced pretty much everyone that the nazi era was ‘right wing’, however simple logic tells you it was ‘socialist’ as indeed Hitler declared himself to be. How people are so stupid not to see this is beyond me .. victors in war get to write the narrative.

Jerry Owen

21st November 2019 at 6:02 pm

In reply to Jim Lawrie

Janet Mozelewski

21st November 2019 at 11:12 pm

interesting point about Hitler and the Nazis being fully supportive of the EU if they were around now. I am sure I’m not alone in thinking that they clearly ARE around now. Or their descendants. It explains a great deal and lots of things slot into place once you view the EU from that standpoint.

Stephen J

30th December 2019 at 9:04 am

Yes, the difference between “left” and “far right” is pretty much 100% of zilch, despite the left’s continued attacks on “the auld enemy”.

Dominic Straiton

21st November 2019 at 7:47 am

The poor deluded man is unwell. Dont expect anything coming out of his mouth to be anything other than verbal diarrhoea.

Jim Lawrie

21st November 2019 at 9:37 am

Dismissing him is not the same as dealing with him. Calling him mentally ill is dangerous.

The question not asked above is why is there a sympathetic reception for what he says.

Stephen J

21st November 2019 at 7:32 am

So expect him to be annointed at the next establishment prizegiving…

Arise Sir Roger.

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