CODOH Cuts a Swath through Swarthmore College

Published: 1998-03-01

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For much of the past decade, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust has made America’s colleges and universities the chief target of its campaign to open minds to the case for Holocaust revisionism. We have run advertisements at more than two hundred campus newspapers; more than a million students, faculty and other staff have read of our Website, of our $50,000 reward offer, and of the revisionist topics covered in our display ads, large and small. While these statistics undeniably reflect substantial achievements in organization and publicity, they also raise legitimate questions: What sort of effects are CODOH’s ads having on campus, in the short term as well as the long run? Are they changing any minds? Are the ads worth the effort and the cost?

As a case very much in point, we’d like to cite recent events at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Founded by Quakers in the 1860’s, Swarthmore is one of America’s elite colleges. Dedicated entirely to undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, Swarthmore boasts gifted and serious students and an accomplished and dedicated faculty. If anything, Swarthmore’s Quaker heritage and its large Jewish representation among faculty and students (including the college’s president, Al Bloom) make it the kind of school that stereotype would hold as completely inhospitable to CODOH’s message.

Yet in January, when we submitted our $50,000 reward ad to the Swarthmore weekly. The Phoenix, and despite the usual attempt by the Anti-Defamation League to pressure the undergraduate staff not to run the ad, they ran it anyway. Indeed, ADL’s meddling had a counter-effect: it so dismayed one Swarthmore student that he contacted CODOH and asked for some of our leaflets. Over a period of five days in early February the lone student (who wishes to remain anonymous) distributed hundreds of copies of Smith’s classic pamphlet The Holocaust Controversy: The Case for Open Debate to students, to faculty, and to Swarthmore chaplains. Or, as the headline in The Phoenix (February 13) put it, “Flyers Challenging the Holocaust Flood Campus.”

Hurtful, Hateful, Reprehensible?

With that, representatives of various on-campus Jewish groups emerged to assail the phantom pamphleteer. Cheryl Cook, director of Hillel, wailed that the distribution of The Holocaust Controversy was “clearly an assault on the integrity of the entire Swarthmore community.” Jacob Krich, of Ruach (associated with campus Hillel), expressed shock that “such a painful topic” was raised by the anonymous distribution. The editors of The Phoenix sought to pigeonhole The Holocaust Controversy as “hate literature,” but were constrained to admit that “Pamphlets like Smith’s—which are written in a rational and calm tone-advocating historical revisionism, have always been a headache for Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) because they take advantage of the existing legal loopholes.” President Al Bloom, while conceding CODOH’s unseen student hadn’t infringed any college regulations, allowed that “I find the questioning presumably of whether or not the Holocaust took place a morally reprehensible line of argument.”

End of story? Not at all. The Phoenix offered Smith a chance to respond to the attacks on him, his pamphlet and revisionism. In the next issue (20 February), Smith struck back at President Bloom and his helpers on the faculty with hard words that ring true, and must have hit home with some students (and even a few professors) at Swarthmore. (For the full text of Smith’s letter published in The Phoenix, see previous page.)

At the end of his substantial response to the editors, Smith supplied the liberating address that lets students and professors see for themselves on CODOHWeb—

Students Speak Out

Nor was Smith’s the only spirited refutation of the attempts to suppress and deny open debate on the Holocaust that appeared in that edition of The Phoenix. Two undergraduates offered a cutting dissection of the efforts of The Phoenix to gloss over First Amendment rights as “legal loopholes,” and Swarthmore’s president’s fumbling attempt to mischaracterize CODOH’s pamphlet as “hate speech”: “President Bloom, did you in fact ever read the pamphlet?” The letter writers, Joshua Rosen and Ben Ezengo, are students who happen to be Jewish, as the saying goes.

Well, the appearance of Smith and CODOH and CODOHWeb in the pages of Swarthmore’s student weekly soon called forth a measured and intelligent response from Holocaust loyalists at the college. First, the leader of a campus group called the Zionist Connection (no connection to SR subscriber Alfred Lilienthal’s outstanding book of the same name) marched into the offices of The Phoenix, demanded that the publication not print anything more by Smith (during the “conversation” we are told that “glass was shattered”), and threatened the editors with removal.

Then the Swarthmore History Department, in its collective wisdom, weighed in with a whining letter to the editor (dated 24 February) that said that the Holocaust was a fact and everyone knows it, above all professional historians; that while far be it from the history profs to criticize student editors, was there really a need to run letters from revisionists; and that, if anyone wanted to know more about the truth, “you can explore the following Website— [in other words, ADL’s Website]—for additional information.”

Us vs. Them

Curious as to what the ADL might have dug up recently to support the Establishment historians, we looked in on their Website ourselves. While we found numerous boasts and testimonies to the ADL’s efforts to police Holocaust revisionism here and abroad—above all the campus activity of CODOH—we discovered nothing there to rebut any of the arguments advanced by Smith or CODOH. Indeed, Swarthmore students who went to both CODOHWeb and ADL’s Website must have been perplexed on comparing the wealth of documents and scholarly treatments on the central issues of Holocaust available from CODOHWeb, and the ADL’s comparatively scanty dossiers and pamphlets on the moral and political failings of individual revisionists.

In essence, Swarthmore students who contrast revisionist scholarship with their professors’ attempts to dismiss it will be confronted with a couple of options: to embrace blindly the arguments from intimidation and authority advanced by the History Department and the ADL; or to acknowledge, inwardly or openly, that the professors can’t answer our arguments.

This is not the millennium, but it’s no small thing. That our reward ad stimulated a conscientious student to distribute The Holocaust Controversy, that nobody at Swarthmore dared attempt to refute a single concrete revisionist claim in the pamphlet; that the spurious arguments against “hate speech” were nailed as such; that Smith was given voice in the campus weekly; that students spoke out in the publication against the college president’s sidestepping of the real issues; that the Zionist kid’s mini-Kristallnacht and the history department’s stodgy and unintelligent invocation of the ADL’s thought-police blotters on “deniers” were the best response they could make to us revisionists at one of America’s finest colleges: all these are reason for CODOH to judge that its Campus Project is making real inroads, and to carry on to the best of our ability.

Swarthmore Phoenix, February 20, 1998

Detractors of Pamphlet Don’t Offer Concrete Evidence, Says Revisionist

Bradley R. Smith

The Phoenix reports that President Bloom (“himself Jewish”) states that I wrote my article The Holocaust Controversy: The Case for Open Debate to “express [my] personal prejudices,” and that I have an “anti-semitic agenda,” a small-minded ad homonym assault that I dismiss out of hand. It’s the kind of thing you overhear in your local butcher shop.

President Bloom apparently did not address any specific statement or language in the text of my article, but was content to slander me. In this he is following the precedent set by his academic peers, together with special-interest pressure groups such as the two mentioned in the Phoenix article: The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL), and its campus front, Hillel.

College presidents and their professors have had six years to correct the errors of fact contained in my article (it was first published in the Daily Northwestern in 1991) but have failed to do it. Why? Because if an error of fact is discovered in the article I’ll correct it. What then? The professors and their presidents will be left with what’s left over. What are they going to do with all the statements of “revisionist” fact that are left over?

The “Holocaust” is not one story but a vast collection of documents, testimony, and yams. Some of it’s true and some of it isn’t: How ordinary! Revisionist theory addresses those documents and outs those that can be shown to be fabrications. It addresses eyewitness testimony and outs that which can be shown to mere invention, or worse. If President Bloom’s professors were doing it, I wouldn’t have to.

The use of slander by those in authority against those of us who doubt what they say we must believe is the response of the petty tyrant. Academics, pledging their allegiance to orthodoxy rather than to open debate, have become mere patriots of the Holocaust, the last refuge on campus for the intellectual scoundrel. Rather than trusting themselves to the processes of free inquiry, they turn to supermarket tabloid psychologising to convince students to avoid the texts that their professors themselves vilify—for reasons the professors are not called upon to reveal.

Meanwhile, revisionist theory is metasticizing (I love giving the profs a straight line) all over the place.

When I opened my Website on the Internet two years ago we were getting forty and fifty hits a day. Now, every 24 hours, close to 2000 revisionist documents are accessed on our site alone. Slander is a wonderfully effective tool in the hands of our college presidents (I know!), but in a free society an honest search for truth is even more potent.

When students become aware that their professors and their professors’ leaders are evading the specific language of the text they condemn, thus replacing education with indoctrination, I think they will be a little disappointed with the intellectual level of the college they are attending.

[Bradley R. Smith is director of CODOHWeb and can be reached at <>]

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: CODOH Cuts a Swath through Swarthmore College
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 52, March 1998, pp. 1, 3f.
Published: 1998-03-01
First posted on CODOH: July 8, 2012, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
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