ADL Censorship University of Texas

Published: 1992-12-01

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Those of you who have followed the Campus Project will recall the struggle that took place at U. Texas at Austin earlier this year. There was an incredibly neurotic scandal over the acceptance of my full page ad on "The Holocaust Controversy" and later over a second ad, sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, on "The 'Human Soap' Holocaust Myth." For a look at how the ADL censors work, I refer you to an article that appeared in the June 1992 issue of the ADL newsletter Frontlines:

The Battle of Austin: An ADL Success Story

by Jeffrey A. Ross
Director, ADL Campus Affairs/
Higher Education Department

During last fall's campaign by Holocaust denier Bradley Smith to insert full-page advertisements in nearly 40 college and university newspapers (ADL on the FRONTLINE February 1992), The Daily Texan, published by the University of Texas, was one of the 11 campus newspapers which accepted the ad.

Working with Rabbi Kerry Baker, Hillel director, his staff, and Hillel members, ADL regional Directors in Texas—Barbara Harberg (Houston) and Mark Briskman (Dallas)—in consultation with the League's national Department of Campus Affairs/Higher Education, fought to have the decision reversed.

At meetings with the newspaper's editors and members of its oversight body, the Texas Student Publications Board (TSP), ADL provided evidence of Smith's ties to the extremist hate movement and, most importantly, sensitized the editorial staff to the deep emotional meaning of the Holocaust to the Jewish community. As a result, the ad was rejected.

A major lesson of the controversy has been the need for more Holocaust education on campuses for the growing number of young Americans who know little of the events of 1939-1945.

In April, ADL brought a program of films, publications, and speakers to five of the campuses affected by the conflict, including the University of Texas. Speakers at Texas included myself, noted Holocaust scholar Professor Deborah Lipstadt, and Johnnie Stevens, a veteran of the all-black 761st Tank Battalion of the U.S. Third Army which had liberated Buchenwald.

As we arrived, Smith submitted a second ad, and the TSP, over the strong objections of The Daily Texan editorial staff, voted to accept it. (TSP's own guidelines mandate the rejection of racially and religiously offensive material.)

Working with Hillel and a wide coalition of Jewish and non-Jewish students, ADL worked to overturn the decision. TSP's guidelines for opinion advertising also require advertisers to obtain permission when citing the words of third parties. Smith's ad quoted Professor Lipstadt and several other prominent Holocaust historians, none of whom had been consulted.

Professor Lipstadt told TSP that she would not have given her permission under any circumstances and warned that she might sue the university if her name was used.

TSP voted to publish the ad, removing any reference to Professor Lipstadt, but also delayed publication while the legal issues could be reviewed.

This provided an opportunity to bring ADL regional, national, and international resources into play. The League's Israel Office contacted Israeli scholars cited in the ad and the ADL Braun Center for Holocaust Studies notified cited American authors. Protests were quickly faxed to TSP directors. The Dallas and Houston regional offices and lay leadership contacted members of the University's Board of Regents. On campus, ADL and the Hillel staff met with Christian campus clergy, the editors of The Daily Texan, and leaders of student government to discuss options and strategy.

Our public program, coming in the midst of this conflict, was well attended, widely reported, and doubly meaningful to both the presenters and the audience.

On the day following the program, the TSP met again with the University Counsel who reversed his previous contention that there were no legal impediments to publication and declared, on the basis of the faxes received, that the University would be open to legal action if the ad were printed. Accordingly, TSP voted against its publication.

It was a hard-fought victory but well worth it in the context of the fact that, following the decision in Texas, not a single college or university newspaper has chosen to accept the second Bradley Smith ad.

Mr. Jeffery A. Ross is proud of what the ADL accomplished. It's difficult to know what to say to such men. It's as if they carry in their hearts the values of Soviet or maybe a fascist culture. A culture that has no history of valuing the right of every individual to express doubt about what he doubts, whatever it is. It's as if the Jeffery A. Rosses have yet to be accultureated into a free society. We should feel sympathy for such men, but we should not allow them to distort our society.

But wait a minute! The U. Texas story isn't over yet. Rolf Hermes, a supporter living near the U. Texas-Pan American campus at Edinburg (in South Texas), placed the full-page "Holocaust Controversy" ad in the student newspaper there, The Pan American. It's causing the usual stir. The ad is attacked but not examined. I can imagine the hair-pulling at the State, Regional, National and Galactic headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League, to say nothing of what's going on behind the scenes at U. Texas in Austin, where there was substantial support for running the ad before the kids were steam-rollered by the ADL and the rest of the Lobby.

I've written an Op Ed piece on this new development and have mailed it all over Texas, 50 of them to student newspapers alone. If it's published, maybe it will afford my friend Mitchell ("what a wonderful organ I have") Jones an opportunity to write a letter to a few editors.

That isn't the end of it. This Texas affair isn't going to be over until it's over.


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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: ADL Censorship University of Texas
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 12, November/December 1992, pp. 7f.

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Published: 1992-12-01
First posted on CODOH: Aug. 30, 2015, 5:33 p.m.
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