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Gerald Footlick, a retired senior editor of Newsweek magazine, was here at the house on a recent Saturday afternoon to interview me for a book he is working on for the American Council on Education. The book is to look at a number of hot issues that have plagued college campuses in recent years and judge how the public affairs people at each campus handled the hullabaloo. One chapter of his book will address the “water buffalo” caper at University of Pennsylvania, one the mishandling of university funds for private use which caused the President of Stanford to resign a couple years ago, another the firing of football coach Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and surely the most important of them all, CODOH’s Campus Project.
Mr. Footlick is an urbane, intelligent, attractive professional with a good sense of humor. We talked at the dining room table, each of us ineptly mismanaging our own individual tape recorder. I had told him when he called from New York that I seldom do print interviews any longer and then only with the condition that I record the interview. He said that was fine with him, that we would both record it and that, in any event, he never quoted anyone out of context.
I took him at his word but I recorded the interview. While we talked, aware that comparisons are invidious, 1 couldn’t help but think about our different stations in the journalistic pecking order. Comparison was impossible.
We live in different worlds, which of course is part of the problem. At the same time, I soon became aware that he was not prepared to interview me. He was remarkably poorly informed about revisionist theory, had read nothing of what I have written, and the type and insightfulness of his questions was on the same level that I would have expected from a student journalist
Which is interesting for a couple reasons. When Footlick retired from Newsweek he took a position at Queens College in Jamaica, New York, where he teaches journalism. He was teaching there in 1994 when one of the campus papers, The Quad, ran the CODOH advertisement challenging the gas chamber exhibits at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He knows Andrew Wallenstein, the young editor at the Quad, who was fed false statements about me making “racist” observations to the U. of Nebraska Sower. As a side note, I learned from Footlick that Wallenstein is an Orthodox Jew. I encouraged Footlick to consider who it might be who would deliberately feed the young man false quotes.
I’m unsure what Footlick thought about the Queens College affair with regard to either intellectual freedom or revisionist theory. I did learn that he thought the model in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum of Krema II at Auschwitz is a “scale model.” He was not aware that Deborah Lipstadt had devoted an entire chapter to the Campus Project in her polemic Denying the Holocaust. He didn’t know who Professor Arthur Butz or what The Hoax of the Twentieth Century is about. After a while I began to wonder why I was talking to this fellow, as much as I liked him.
And after a while he wanted to know if I’m antisemitic. I said “no” and let it go at that. He looked around the L-shaped space that makes up our family room, dining room and kitchen space and said: “You obviously don’t do it for the money. Why do you do it?” He kept returning to the antisemitism issue. He had the ordinary view that when you ask the questions revisionists ask, you must be antisemitic. He asked me again. I found myself hedging. I didn’t want to say it a second time. The more I stonewalled the question, the more interested Footlick became. I was a little curious myself about why I would not want to protest my innocence.
Footlick was gone by the time I understood my reluctance to defend myself from the charge of antisemitism. While I’m sympathetic to journalists who ask the question and truly want an answer to it, I have come to feel that responding to the question is personally demeaning. Not the question, which is perfectly normal considering the society we live in, but my answering it. Why would anyone ask me such a question? Particularly without quoting something I have written or said? I know I will be asked the question again and again the rest of my life, but I doubt I will ever answer it again.
While I don’t intend to do many more one-on-one interviews with journalists, I feel grateful for having learned or relearned a couple things from talking to Mr. Footlick. I was reminded once again that while one journalist or another is always writing about the Holocaust controversy, none of them knows anything about it; that being interviewed by a professional journalist on this subject is no different than being interviewed by a student journalist because the professionals don’t know any more about the controversy than the students do.
And talking to Footlick reinforced my resolve for the future to answer only those questions from the press which originate with specific statements I have made in one of my books, or in Smith’s Report, or recorded during one of my radio or television appearances, or in one of the dozens of newsletter articles and opinion pieces I have published. If a reporter or a book writer wants to wing it, he doesn’t have to talk to me. All he has to do is write whatever comes to mind, which by and large is what they do anyway.
The 10 June issue of the San Francisco Examiner ran an article about radical right groups on the Internet, such articles being quite the thing these days, including three predictable paragraphs on me but giving no directions to the Web site. === Joe Bishop writes to say that “Putting SR on a subscription basis was a wise move, and long overdue. Perhaps [you] will one day consider gradually expanding it into a more in-depth revisionist magazine.” [Joe must have a direct line to the bowels of my computer. I haven’t told anyone about Smith's On-Line Review. SOR, however, will not be an “expanded” version of Smith's Report. SOR is an entirely different concept. Smith’s Report will go on forever], === A new reader writes that he discovered the CODOH Web site through a reference to it in Le Monde Diplomatique, in an article on the Garaudy/Abbé Pierre censorship scandal. === A letter from a Pentagon employee informs us: “I’ve had the opportunity to watch your video “David Cole Interviews Dr. Franciszek Piper” and would like to ask you where I could obtain a copy for myself. You had sent a few copies to the historians at the Joint History Office, Joint Chiefs of Staff. I found your video very impressive ”
Spiegelmaus is absent from this issue as its creator has had a family emergency. The little mouse will return, with a new angle, in SR#35.
The count of visits to the CODOH Website is much larger than we thought. While there have been more than 16,000 hits on our Homepage (Main Index) we have been reminded that anyone who simply types in the words, for example, David Irving, will go directly to the David Irving page on our site, bypassing the Main Index on the Homepage. The result is that David Thomas has discovered that we have had more than 42,000 visits to the site!!
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, no. 34, July 1996, pp. 2f.|
|First posted on CODOH:||Sept. 26, 2015, 5:24 a.m.|