Bradley in Baja

Published: 2016-02-20

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There is a lot I can say about Bradley… and I can start with how I knew about him for years before I ever met him. About 20 years ago, a group of friends and I put together a weekly publication that later came to be one of the main weekly papers in our little town in Baja. The adventure lasted four years, then money became a problem and we had to let it go… In this weekly, we had a section dedicated to English speakers in town, which I had the chance of putting together with the help of local American writers who were retired in Baja.

One day, one of our regular writers wrote about his WWII experience, he was 85 or so at the time and mentioned in his article something about the Holocaust. Well this article was responded with a letter to editor, from another writer in town, a revisionist named Bradley Smith…Some of my English-speaking writers warned me not publish Bradley’s arguments which now I have forgotten and they also were the ones that mentioned the word revisionist, as if by itself it meant “do not publish this guy”. He is not to be published.

As I say, I cannot remember the arguments in Bradley’s letter directed to me and also referring to the article published in this English section of the paper but I remember it made sense to me to publish it. There was nothing ugly about. So I published for the first time a revisionist in a small-town newspaper twenty-some years ago without having a clue as to what I was getting myself into… Then came a response by our staff writer that addressed Bradley’s letter and then Bradley’s reply to it…by this time I had been threaten by one of our main writers that he would resign if I were to publish Bradley’s response once again…I still did not understand what the fuss was all about..They were civilly discussing history and I could find nothing insulting in Bradley words… I was naïve, only 22, and also completely ignorant of the taboo surrounding the Holocaust.

Well, after thinking about it and consulting with our Spanish writers team on what to do, we -I mainly- decided that Bradley had the right to reply …so I did it again and I published Bradley once more…our main English writer did not quit and Bradley never wrote back again with his revisionist arguments. Months after that he sent me, with a common friend, a text, an anecdote in about 400 words that was just too delicious not to publish. 

Meeting “The Real Guy” years later

It was 2009, I was broke, recently divorced, my mother had just died months before all this so the entire world was against me, so I felt…I had a friend who was working for a guy I sort of had an idea of who that was but never had met, and I decided to go ask for a job at his home where he had his office. That was Bradley Smith. He was bald at the time and coming out of his first chemotherapy, but he looked good and had a friendly smile… luckily for me, he did need someone with computer skills, fluent English and I think it helped that I was a frustrated writer too.

Bradley the Revisionist Artist and The Campus Project

There are many ways to go on about who Bradley Smith was, what his legacy is and what role he played in the realm of revisionism. I think it is a must to see his artistic persona to understand who Bradley was. And The Campus Project as a unique and very American way to make his argument about Freedom of Speech. He was much more dedicated to Freedom of Speech than to revisionism itself. And much more interested in saying something about taboo and what it does to society and its institutions than in Krema I at Auschwitz. In part that was the artist in him, the writer: interested in people, feelings, habits, actions and reactions and all that constitutes a society. I guess deep down inside he was still that genuine libertarian and writer who discovered Robert Faurrison’s arguments after one meeting in the late 70’s.

I worked with him since the beginning of 2009, very closely, five to six days a week in a small office in what used to be his mommy’s bedroom, as he would refer to it, and from there, we, once, for one day, shook Harvard University to its foundations, all over and across the international news agencies and there were many good stories later but... we would also work often in areas of gray where nothing would happen , maybe as Bradley would say it was just failure that was going on. And this was interesting too, failure… I could almost say that failure was another thing Bradley was attracted to. He used to say that he was too interested in “the process” of things and perhaps not so much in the result. But failure as a result I think was very interesting for him. His failure was the most interesting thing and he would often say that he had failed as a writer, this man who arguably is among the best writers of his  American generation.

Of course then there is the failure of the Campus Project, when the other side grew too big for us in our tiny office to be even able to compete against, but I will address the Campus Project in proper article…

Bradley was a true artist and a very kind human being, for his failure made him understand others’ unsuccessful outcomes. But above all, for me, he was a true friend, never too perfect, never too demanding, just a true friend.

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Author(s): Roberto Hernández
Title: Bradley in Baja
Published: 2016-02-20
First posted on CODOH: Feb. 20, 2016, 6:13 p.m.
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