Candor or Slander?

Northwestern Academic Challenges Arthur Butz
Published: 1997-01-01

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If Sheldon Epstein is to be believed, he is the first academic in history to be fired for “believing” in the Holocaust. But, as the Duke of Wellington is supposed to have said when asked on a London street if he was “Mr. Jones,” if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Epstein was an adjunct instructor in Northwestern University’s engineering school, where, as most know, Arthur Butz has been for some years a tenured professor. That he and the author of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century were members of the same faculty was obviously galling to Epstein; when he discovered last spring that Professor Butz was posting revisionist material on a website with a Northwestern University server, he figured the time had come for Butz to be muzzled, even if he couldn’t be fired.

Some of the niceties of academic freedom are still in place at Northwestern, however. Jerome Cohen, dean of NU’s McCormick School of Engineering, let Epstein know that there was nothing to be done about Professor Butz’s freedom of expression on his own website.

Evidently the idea of Butz’s lone Holocaust dissent being tolerated unhinged poor Sheldon, for he quickly cobbled together a course about engineering and the Holocaust, named “Candor: The Language of Engineering," all about what happens when evil engineers design terrible engines of death and they and other engineers (who could he have been thinking of?) don’t tell the truth.

It’s not clear whether Epstein’s alternately silly and slanderous “engineering” course was entirely the cause of his contract not being renewed (he didn’t have tenure). If so, so be it—and thumbs up, then, to Cohen and the rest of them, for putting an end to Epstein’s classroom lack of class, and (oh, go ahead—sue us!) for implicitly endorsing Arthur Butz’s impeccable academic and personal conduct at Northwestern all these years.

And poor Epstein? Lear-like he laments, “I stood up and said the king is riding with no clothes.” (King Godiva I?) And for this clear-sightedness he was cast out into the cold. Where is our adjunct instructor in engineering to turn, now that his Holocaustomania has proved too virulent even for a major American university?

SR suggests, with all due charity, to that mighty institution of Holocaust erudition: the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Sheldon Epstein, Yankiel Wiernik Memorial Professor of Holocaust Engineering! It’s got a ring to it, and God knows there's work to be done for an engineer devoted to telling the truth: on the diesel gassings and open-pit burnings and the crematoria, etc., etc.

Then again, Epstein might just use his free time to write a book. It’s been done before.


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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Candor or Slander?, Northwestern Academic Challenges Arthur Butz
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 39, January 1997, pp. 6f.
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Published: 1997-01-01
First posted on CODOH: Oct. 2, 2015, 4:12 a.m.
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