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Here we are in the middle of another holiday season. I have lots of good news about the Campus Internet Project, but there's something on my mind I want to clear. That's one thing holidays are for, to get your mind off what it's regularly on and on to something else. I have been thinking about apologizing for a number of things, sort of like a New Year's resolution, but instead of making promises for the year not yet here, I would apologize for some of what I did or did not do but should have during the year now coming to a close.
About ten-thirty this morning I went out walking to reflect on this letter. There must be many cultural precedents for what I was thinking of doing but I couldn't think of any. Some primitive band of hunters and gatherers in the Amazon basin probably have it this little ritual worked out with great elaboration. Apology contains a request – for forgiveness. You want to apologize, and beyond that you want to be forgiven for having been bad.
It is being increasingly pointed out to me that I am not the one to referee scholarly or any other debates among revisionists. I don't have enough interest in historical research, I don't want to take the time to understand the arguments of engineers and chemists and worse, I'm careless. I encourage others to say whatever they want about me, I find it interesting. I have the hide of a hippo. But then I'm inclined to allow others to say whatever they want about others as well, to shoot from the hip if they like, get it off their chests. Being careless and not being particularly sensitive about being insulted may work for me, but it doesn't work for very many others.
From the start my interest has been with the ethical and moral issues raised by the suppression of revisionist theory, not in the theory itself. Helplessly self-absorbed and egotistical, as E.B. White described his own personality, I have been fascinated with how arguing against the suppression of public debate on revisionist issues affects, and reveals, the subjective life. I suppose my pursuit of these revelations at the expense of what others would prefer me to do will prove to be either the catastrophe of my life or its saving grace.
The primary story I have to make some effort to set right revolves around how I handled the differences between Professor Robert Faurisson-and independent researcher David Cole. My effort here is not be to try to straighten out the story itself in any final way, but to demonstrate the kinds of errors, misjudgments and oversights I can make when I get involved as a referee in the disputes of others.
SR 19 (Winter 95) I write an article on David Cole being set up and robbed at the Struthof (Natzweiler) gas chamber exhibit.
SR 21 (March 95) I publish a half-column letter by Robert Faurisson in which he points out that Rene Fabre, Dean of Pharmacology Faculty in Paris, concluded as long ago as 1945 that there had been no gassings at Struthof, apparently to suggest that there is no point in Cole being exercised over Struthof. I run a 7 1/'2 column response by Cole pointing to many irregularities in the Struthof story and questioning Faurisson's good faith in trying to downplay them. But I fail to take note of which Cole article Faurisson is replying to on the one hand, and which Cole believes he is replying to.
SR 22 (April 95) Technically, there is no Smith's Report 22. In it's place I write a four-page lamentation spelling out how I have lost my two primary sources of funding, that it is almost certain I will be unable to continue with the Campus Project and will from that moment forward, without giving up revisionism entirely, concentrate on my book manuscripts.
I attach to these four pages a "Supplement to Smith's Report. Number 21 (Supplement) April 1995).) Here I print a one-page letter by Henri Roques giving his version of what happened with Cole at Struthof, and arguing against the idea that Cole had in any way been "entrapped" or, as Cole strongly suspects, that the camp guards had participated in the robbery in one way or another. In the subtext there is the clear implication that Cole is lying about his experience.
Cole responds with an 8-page single-spaced letter, the opening remarks of which include: "The charges made by monsieur Roques don't interest me nearly as much as the history behind this missive… Since I became known as part of the revisionist "movement," [Professor Robert] Faurisson has been relentless in his personal attacks against me."
The letter is a strong attack on Faurisson, not only on his scholarship but his character. I can't run the entire 8 pages, even if I had wanted to. I run the first page and include a notice saying I will send the full 8 pages to anyone who requests them. At the same time, I am so distracted by the financial catastrophe that I see bearing down on me, particularly the fact that I might have to institutionalize my mother and move the rest of the family to Mexico, that while I am more than a little disturbed by what is happening between Faurisson and Cole, I failed to keep my mind on it.
Cole now sends me a rewrite of the 8-page letter. It is now a 16 page elaboration of the original 8-pager. He's thrown himself into his work. He asks that I replace the 8-pager with the 16-pager. I do. Those who ask for the original 8-pager receive the 16-pager in its place. A couple readers suggest I must have a private reason for suppressing the original 8-page draft.
Meanwhile, I'm unaware that Faurisson has not received my letter of lamentation (which I now refer to as SR 22), nor the supplement containing the Roques letter, nor the first page of Cole's 8-pager.
SR 23 (May 95) I am sending Cole's 16-page attack on Faurisson to everyone on principle. By now I see it has some language a responsible editor would have taken care of. Now it's too late. I write a two-column article giving the background to the dispute, but I am still unaware that Faurisson has not received issues 22 and 23 of SR. Cole, of course, is also unaware of this. For other reasons, Cole criticizes me sharply for writing contemptuously of "survivors" like Wiesel and Mermelstein but in my exchanges with Cole attempt to protect Faurisson, a charge which I see has some merit. Somewhere down the line I will have to explain myself.
I run a one-column-plus letter by Carlos Porter criticizing Cole's article on Struthof.
SR 24 (June / July 95) I do an entire newsletter without mentioning Faurisson or Cole.
SR 25 (August 95) Here I run a one-column open letter from Faurisson on a matter unrelated to his dispute with Cole. I run a three-column article by Cole on Struthof and his reasons for believing it is highly likely that 87 Jews were gassed at Struthof, largely in response to the letter I had run by Carlos Porter is SR 23. Cole observes that revisionists, when the chips are down, do not want to examine the evidence for gassing chambers any more than exterminationists do.
SR 26 (September 95) I run a letter from Professor Faurisson dated 10 August stating clearly he has just received "Smith's Report #25 (August 1995). He observes that "David Cole's text on the 'highly likely' allegation that Jews were gassed at Struthof: Cole did not give us one word on Professor Rene Fabre's testimony! Not one word on Pressac's allusions to it in his Struthof Album!"
SR 27 (October 95) I receive a blistering 700-word letter from David Cole. "Faurisson says I did not give 'one word' on Professor Fabre's testimony. Agreed; I did not write 'one word.' I wrote 291 words!" I don't run Cole's letter because of it's intemperate nature. I write that Faurisson made a "demonstrably inaccurate statement" when he wrote that Cole did not mention Fabre.
I receive an email letter from a Chicago Reader who chides me for being asleep at the switch. When Faurisson wrote that Cole had ignored Fabre, Faurisson was referencing Cole's article in SR 25, which is plainly stated in Faurisson's letter and where, as a matter of fact, Cole indeed does not refer to Fabre. Cole had gotten the dates of his own articles mixed up. As the editor, I should have caught that. That's what editors are for. Faurisson's SR 26 letter about Fabre clearly referenced Cole's SR 25 article, whereas Cole's "291 words" about Fabre had appeared in SR 21. So it turns out that I, not Faurisson, am the one who made the "demonstrably inaccurate statement."
Faurisson now asks why I have not printed Roque's letter about David Cole at Struthof in Smith's Report? I did print it –, as a supplement to SR 21, and I attached it to my letter of lamentation (now identified as SR 22). It is now that I learn that Faurisson did not receive SR 22 and SR 23. If he did not get SR 22, that means he did not receive the Supplement to SR 21 which contained the Roques letter, and the first page of Cole's 8-page (then 16-page) attack on him. If I had been on top of things editorially, I would have understood all this weeks and maybe months earlier. It's becoming increasingly clear that because of my inattention to my editorial responsibilities I have played a key role in the growing dispute between Cole and Faurisson, when all my inclinations would be to help work things out between them. There is a great deal more I could report on all this but this is it for me. I think the outline is clear. There is a serious dispute going on between Faurisson and Cole, and that I have played a significant role in forwarding it. The one productive thing that has come from this miserable affair is that I have learned I am absolutely not the right person to referee scholarly or scientific disputes among revisionists or anyone else, in a forum such as this one. My apologies to all concerned. If there's anything I can do to help reverse what I have already done, I'm all ears.
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, no. 29, December 1995, pp. 1-3|
|First posted on CODOH:||Sept. 25, 2015, 4:39 a.m.|