Advertisements: Should I Run Them?

Published: 1995-02-01

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My friend Ernst Zuendel has asked me to run an ad in Smith's Report announcing "The REVISIONIST NETWORK," together with a schedule of his radio and cable television programs that air across much of the United States. He wants to run the ad in all revisionist publications. He writes that Remarks and The Journal for Historical Review have already agreed to run it.

I've never run an ad in Smith's for anyone's stuff other than my own. I feel very uncomfortable saying no to Ernst. He's run ads for our Cole / Piper videotape. He would probably run any ad of mine I asked him to run. It doesn't seem fair. What's the problem?

My job is to help fix it so that, as Joe Bob puts it, everybody gets to talk. I count among my friends and associates individuals who have radical politics that are 180 degrees opposite from my own. I associate with people who issue public statements that make me flinch. I know others who in private express feelings I feel are socially and spiritually regressive.

In my world, while everybody gets to talk, I walk a very fine line through the minefields of radical rhetoric. An image comes to mind of summer mornings when I was a boy of eight or nine climbing up on a six-foot-high board fence behind our house and walking the three-quarter-inch-wide edge. I can still remember Mother calling from the kitchen window to get down off there before I fell off and broke something expensive.

When I wrote Ernst in response to his solicitation I felt a little down-hearted. I said I guessed I wouldn't do it. I said I didn't know exactly why but "I suppose it's the usual reasons. My heart just isn't in it. What the hell?"

Ernst faxed me a note in answer:

I understand your reasons and accept your decision. It's just a pity — we are broadcasting on radio six different times a week with nothing but hard core revisionist programs — if all those who profess an interest in advancing the cause of revisionism could at least mention the dates, call letters of the stations, days and hours, we could inform a combined total of 'revisionist' subscribers to various newsletters, etc. of easily 100,000 people! They would multiply the effect by 5 or 10! That's its influence and power – we could mobilize these people to write, phone, fax, etc."

While I read Ernst's note I recalled the time he appeared on 60 Minutes and protested when Mike Wallace suggested that his views were "neo-Nazi." Ernst set him straight. He wasn't expressing neo-Nazi views at all, he said. He was expressing "Nazi" views. It was a really principled and comic moment. I don't think one viewer in a million would have expected him to say that. No one expects Gentile Americans and German-Americans particularly to be either honest or forthright in public when it comes to The Controversy. I stopped believing in the unique brutality of German behavior during World War II a long time ago, so I'm not horror-struck at expressions of sympathy for National Socialism. Unique is the key word here. At the same time, Ernst's politics and world view are very different from mine. Nazi ideology did not have as its long suit the promotion of intellectual freedom. Being socialist and racialist too, it was not much committed to liberty generally.

Smith's Report isn't Harpers or Atlantic Monthly. Every periodical has its own purpose and format. SR is what the alternative press calls a "personal zine." I keep you up to date with what I'm doing personally, with your help, to promote intellectual freedom and open debate on the Holocaust controversy.

My theory, and theory is not my long suit, is that the taboo against open debate on the Holocaust story is at the dead center of the debate over intellectual freedom in America — and every other country in the West. Once the Holocaust story is open to public debate, every other taboo against intellectual freedom in the West will feel its shackles loosen — for a while.

I'm not a romantic. I understand that, by the time today’s taboos against free thought are repudiated, others will have appeared to take their place. The need for taboos appears to be universal. Every generation has the privilege of exposing its own. That's my theory.

Meanwhile, I still don’t want to appear to be sponsoring the political proclivities of others in SR, particularly if their politics are ipso facto against intellectual liberty. I can be criticized for doing exactly what student editors do when they refuse to run a CODOH ad challenging the Holocaust story on the grounds that the politics of the man who wrote the ad are intolerable.

The context of publishing a newspaper on a university campus and publishing SR is very different. It’s like situational ethics. An editor who routinely runs stories giving the orthodox position on the Holocaust controversy but refuses to run criticisms of that orthodoxy is operating at cross purposes to the ideal of intellectual freedom.

SR isn't here to defend revisionist theory as such but to make discussion of it an ordinary part of public discourse. This suggests a double standard in SR, for while I don't want to be identified with revisionists whose politics traditionally are against intellectual freedom, at the same time these pages are wide open to exterminationists who are willing to participate in an open debate — no matter what their politics.

With that small irony in mind, I've decided to "piggyback" Ernst's flyers about his radio and cable talk shows, which give the specifics of dates and times, along with this issue of SR.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Advertisements: Should I Run Them?
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 20, February 1995, pp. 5f.
Published: 1995-02-01
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 9, 2015, 6:02 a.m.
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