Are Revisionists Anti-Semitic?
AnswerMan! is in the business of answering historical queries, not engaging in polemics. However, you have asked a common question so AnswerMan! will straighten you out.
There is a tendency to characterize anyone who is opposed to a Jewish interest, or who doesn't particularly like Jews, as "anti-Semitic". However, we are inclined to accept the thinking of Daniel Pipes (in his book, "Conspiracy") who considers 'anti-Semitism' as being specifically a conspiratorial ideology about Jewish people.
Now to this extent it certainly is true that some revisionists are 'anti-Semitic'. That is, they believe that the Holocaust is a fraud perpetrated by Jewish intriguers. Of course, this is not true, but it is true that several agencies, as well as several which claim to speak for Jewish and Zionist interests, have used the Holocaust for all kinds of political purposes especially in the past three decades. Norman G. Finkelstein's essay in "A Nation on Trial" demonstrates this very clearly.
This manipulation of what the Holocaust supposedly was is the main motive for many more revisionists than those described above. Yet this majority of revisionists have no particular anti-Jewish animus and indeed several are Jewish themselves. They are motivated, not by hatred, but by the desire to end the demonization of the German people, and the debasing of our political culture with puerile horror stories. Their hope is to help us face the history of the Twentieth Century fairly and squarely.
Nevertheless, there remains the small handful of revisionists who maintain a conspiratorial perspective on the Holocaust, and we leave aside those few among them who discuss "conspiracy" and "hoax" for frankly rhetorical purposes. We can safely disregard such arguments since conspiracy theories are almost always false. Just as it is absurd to believe that a handful of influential Jews conspired to "create" a Holocaust, it is likewise absurd to believe that a handful of committed Nazis conspired to "perpetrate" one, leaving scarcely a trace of documentary, material, or physical evidence.
The inescapable conclusion is that, while there was a mass destruction of the Jewish people of some kind, it did not involve a planned attempt at extermination, homicidal gas chambers, or six million victims. Combining that fact with the self-evident fact that most people continue to believe that millions were killed in gas chambers according to a plan leads neither to a Jewish nor a Nazi conspiracy theory, but rather to a conclusion that is much simpler and even more obvious: mass hysteria on the grand scale.
That more and more people are coming to realize the deficiencies in the standard Holocaust story is not an indication of growing anti-Semitism. That would be equivalent to equating a position on one issue with a general judgment about those who hold it. For example, it is well known that most pornographers support a woman's right to choose abortion, but that does not mean that Patricia Ireland of NOW is a pornographer, or that women's groups endorse pornography.
People are questioning the Holocaust story because it is being suppressed with prison sentences and book burnings in Europe, because of attempts at censorship in the United Kingdom and the United States, and because of the obvious, and oft seen as cynical, manipulation of this great Jewish tragedy for political purposes. Therefore AnswerMan! predicts that the standard story will continue to give ground, but it will not be possible to excuse these further revisions with facile conspiracy theories about 'anti-Semitic revisionists'.
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|Title:||Are Revisionists Anti-Semitic?|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 29, 1998, 7 p.m.|