To Editor, St. Cloud Student Newspaper
Since the publication of our insert, "The Revisionist" ignited such a controversy on your campus, I would like to take the opportunity to make a few comments clarifying CODOH's objective as well as our reaction to to the campus response.
There are probably two elements of the campus response which I feel are most important to address immediately. The first of these concerns the truly unfair criticism of the insert. We paid for it, we placed it. Neither the paper, nor its editors or writers, should bear any responsibility for any negative reaction. On the contrary, they deserve praise for having a clearer insight into the nature of free speech than hardly any of their detractors.
Second, it is important to tell the Jewish readers who might have been upset by the insert that our aim was not to harm or incite bad feeling towards anyone. If, as some comments indicate, there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the St. Cloud campus, then it's fine with me that "The Revisionist" caused this problem to be addressed. On the other hand, the aim of "The Revisionist" is not to foment hatred, but to direct the light of open criticism on the suppressed taboos of our society from which hatred and misunderstandings always arise.
We have chosen to focus on the gas chamber stories, for three simple reasons. One, we don't believe them. Second, no one talks about them. Third, in many countries of the world you can go to jail for not believing them. In fact, as I write this, an 80 year old man in Switzerland is being threatened with a three year prison sentence for doing nothing more than doubting the existence of gas chambers in public. Something is wrong with this picture.
Of course, in addition to the gas chamber stories we cover a lot of other stories. In the copy of "The Revisionist" we discussed the unjust mischaracterizations of Patrick Buchanan, the targeting of a German scientist, and the appropriateness of Americans running an exhibit on Wehrmacht war crimes when we lack to courage to look hard at our own. Tellingly, none of the critics of our publication addressed the content of "The Revisionist" at all, preferring to focus, apparently, on the title of a couple of ads and the general reputation of Bradley Smith as someone who, in the mindless rhetoric of our critics, "denies that the Holocaust happened."
Unfortunately, this kind of descent into over-heated rhetoric has become all too common in our society, and part of what we are trying to do is simply normalize the issues of revisionism and gas chamber skepticism so that we can help defuse the current trend towards hysterical reactions and criminalization.
While trying to be kind and generous here, I must say that the reaction of some of the faculty of the university should give the students — or any rational person at St. Cloud — pause to reflect. Reports indicate that their public actions consisted of violent and obscene speeches, several thinly veiled attacks on the editors of the newspaper, and, most shamefully, the torching of our insert by Professor Kirchoff of the English Department.
That so many self-styled "intellectuals" would so willingly betray their calling and act like a bunch of Nazi thugs tells us that St. Cloud badly needs some lessons in the tolerance that "The Revisionist" challenges them to acquire. For this reason, although we are sorry for the harm directed towards the student paper and the hurt feelings of the Jewish community, we are glad that the paper had the courage to run our insert. And there's another reason, that stood right on the cover of our journal: the title of one of the articles, before it was burned, could be clearly read: "How 'Fahrenheit 451' Trends Threaten Intellectual Freedom." Indeed.
Very Respectfully,George Brewer
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Open Letter to the Editor, St. Cloud Student Newspaper|
|First posted on CODOH:||April 1, 2000, 6 p.m.|
|Comments:||On the matter of the burning of 'The Revisionist' on campus by college professors|