Another Ordinary Life
Published: 2011-12-01

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*** When we got back from the VA the other night I found that my email account held 38,800 messages. That was about 38,750 too many. What to do? Well, I erased them, everything. I didn’t have time to go through 38,000 emails to look for half a dozen that might be important. It went easy, took maybe an hour and then I was okay. I sat there thinking how it could have been worse when the emails started coming in again at a particularly rapid rate. I decided to let it go until morning.

The next morning there were more than 40,000 emails waiting for me. There was nothing for it. We took the machine to the fix-it shop. They did what they did and in the afternoon I picked it up, brought it home, plugged it in, and went out to do some errands. When I got back the messages were coming in fast. The next morning I had another 40,000 emails.

We’re still working on it. But when you get some 120,000 emails messages in your box over three days you figure you are doing something that somebody doesn’t like. What we had been doing the previous days was to draw (critical) attention to the Conference being held at Humboldt University, Berlin, sponsored by The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. The conference will address “Holocaust Denial and Freedom of Speech in the Internet Era.”

Ya think?

*** Watching Charlie Rose on television where he is interviewing a writer who is absorbed by the importance of questions in life, especially with regard to the life of the mind. He makes an excellent case for the importance of questions. As he and Rose go on about questions I grow increasingly aware that questions play a very small role in my life, that observation plays the primary role. No better example for it than my 30 year commitment to the revisionist issue.

Observation is not a matter of the eyes alone, or the intellect alone, it is an affair of the entire body. That New Year’s Eve, 1979, when I first read Butz in the downtown library in Los Angeles I became aware—I observed what was surging through the body—the understanding that I was going to do something about, address, the Taboo that protected the H. story from an open debate. I had no questions. There was no conscious decision. Only the observation of what I was going to address flooding the body.

*** I note that Norman Finkelstein was born in 1953. In 1953 I was 23 years old, selling Good Humor ice cream bars in my old neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles (where they used to do the riots). I drove one of those little Good Humor trucks with the loudspeaker on the cab playing music so the kids can hear you coming. A kid or a mother would come out to the curbing, I’d stop, dismount and go around to the back where there was a little door opening into the freezer. I was biding my time, waiting to be interviewed for a position as a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County.

 A few months before, when I was still in the army hospital in Camp Cooke, California, I had driven down with a carful of other “walking wounded” to pass the weekend with my folks and boyhood friends. This time, for some reason, it occurred to me to catch the Avalon Streetcar downtown to where I could make it over to Little Tokyo. I must have been hoping to find something that would compare with what I had found in Osaka when I was in the Army hospital there. The bars, the beautiful lights over the canals, the beautiful young ladies.

That afternoon when I got off the streetcar in downtown Los Angeles I made it down Spring Street as best I could. There had been surgery on the right hand and the right ankle, I was still using a cane, and I was in a slow-moving mode. After a couple blocks I passed a shabby little storefront where a small sign was taped to the window. It said: “Become a Deputy Sherriff.” I wrote down the number.

As it happened, it was a bad night in Little Tokyo. I recall some brilliantly colored fish in a big tank but no young ladies. It was no Osaka. But over the following weeks/months I was discharged from hospital, discharged from the army, filled out the paperwork to become a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County, and then went through the process of waiting. Time passed, and now it was 1953. So there we were in 1953, Norman and me. Norman needing his bottle warmed and his diaper changed. Me needing to find a handle on the world of memory. I had a 23-year head start on Norman but that made no difference to him. Twenty years later he was discovering an intellect that was out of the ordinary, one that would contribute to making him an extraordinary writer, while I was discovering that I had missed that boat.

*** Went to the VA in La Jolla for the first routine check-up on the knee surgery. The left leg was grotesquely swollen from ankle to knee and hard as a brick. Still, it was somewhat less swollen than it had been the first ten days. The incision was still leaking a bit at the top end, but nothing like it had been leaking the first ten days. I’d thought that was normal. There were swollen blister-like outbreaks on the front and back of the leg. It was some kind of fluid, maybe lymphatic fluid, trying to get out, to go somewhere. Anywhere.

When Dr. Mercer, the surgeon, came into the office with his nurse practitioner I stood up and dropped the pants so they could compare the two legs. Mercer was stunned. There was an unusual air of theater about it. He actually groaned. It had been a mistake for him to do the surgery. Why hadn’t I called? If the leg were to become infected the question of amputation would be there. Infection can begin inside the leg, it doesn’t have to be visible. And with that kind of swelling there was the risk of an embolism. At one point, his elbows on his knees, he put his face in his hands and shaking his head said sometimes he thought he was never going to learn to stop taking such chances. I’d never seen a doctor behave in such a fashion. There was something fetching about it.

Then when he found that I had driven the Jeep for three hours up from Baja to keep our appointment he was astounded. You just don’t do that after such surgery. I didn’t know. I told him that while we were waiting in line to cross the frontier that I opened the car door on the driver’s side and let the leg dangle outside. There was some pain but it wasn’t killing me.

Dr. Mercer decided to give up with me, take care of business. There was one place at the upper end of the incision that had not closed and was sticking out in an odd way. He opened it with a tiny knife and when he did the interior pressure of the swollen calf was so forceful that a stream of clear fluid shot out of the opening in a beautiful arc, crossed the distance between us, and hit him in the chest. He was wearing a shirt with an open collar and the stuff splattered right into the hair. It was kind of comic and I was unable to not laugh a little. He didn’t say anything. He sat up and rubbed the wetness into his chest hair. After a moment he said calmly:

“It’s okay. I’m old-school.”

That was kind of comic too. But I understood now that the theater was over and I kept to a grave expression. He put a little bandage on the tiny wound and said typically the next check-up would be in four weeks but we would make ours in two weeks. Meanwhile, if I found anything strange going on I was to call his nurse practitioner immediately. When he stood up to leave he smiled a little, and as he stepped past my chair toward the door he gripped my shoulder forcefully with one hand, shook it a bit, and said: “Good luck.” Altogether the session was the most human on the part of a doctor I have ever had. A little odd, sure, but. . . ..

*** Wife and I drove down the coast this afternoon to Mission, a very small place where her younger brother is building a church. He's been building it for twenty-odd years now, a real church. It's the biggest building in the little place where now three of the streets are paved. A birthday party for his wife, Elizabeth, with a hundred or so guests and chile reyenos for supper. It's only a couple miles inland from the ocean, but in a valley surrounded by high, craggy, rocky hills. It's like being in a hidden valley in the Arizona desert.

The large dining area is full and busy and noisy. There are a sprinkling of Americans, Christian folk who come down to help with the work of evangelizing. And there is one little girl there, maybe four years old, with long red hair tied back into a single braid. She is alert, pays attention to her mother, and is pretty. My mother had red hair, a bit lighter than that of the little girl. The big dining room is full and loud with laughing and talking as Elizabeth opens her presents. I watch the pretty little redheaded girl, so much at her ease in the midst of all that ruckus and movement and in her I see my own mother as a little girl more than a hundred years ago. It’s difficult to take my eyes off her.

*** Dr. Christian Lindtner has challenged Robert Faurisson to an open debate on the Holocaust. Lindtner asserts that Holocaust revisionism is “Chutzpah,” the Yiddish word for foolish or fake or pushy—as it was used in my circles years ago. Lindtner, a Dane, is not just anybody. He has held teaching positions at the Universities of Lund, Copenhagen, Washington (Seattle), Virginia (Charlottesville). His research ositions include University of Copenhagen, University of Göttingen, Danish Academy of Sciences (Carlsberg Foundation), Danish Council of Research, DAAD (Germany), etc.

Dr. Lindtner’s challenge to Faurisson included this text:

“The world’s absolute leading holocaust denier Professor Robert Faurisson has often complained that there is no "open debate" about the Holocaust. He has often also been helpful in making rare documents etc. available. More than six months ago I asked him five questions about the holocaust. For reasons unknown, Professor Faurisson can or will not answer these simple questions. He either talks about something else, or does not reply at all.

“In the interest of an open debate, I have now decided—after more than six months of no response—to ask the public to help the famous French scholar answer my five questions from April 17, 2011:…”

I was taken aback by Dr. Lindtner re Faurisson and revisionism. I had met Dr. Lindtner at the Holocaust Conference at Teheran in 2006. We spent a little time together, I think in the company of several others. I don’t recall the content of any exchange we might have had. What I do recall about the Dr. is that he was a very agreeable guy to be around. That I liked him. And I recall the day after the conference itself was finished, the nighttime meeting in the basement of the center where most of us were lodged, that he was one of those chosen to be a member of a newly proposed international foundation for Holocaust studies to be run out of Teheran. So when I received Dr. Lindtner’s statement about Faurisson, and his first five questions, though caught off-guard by the tone and the implications of the message, I would of course want to know what questions he had put to Faurisson. It was an odd moment for me. The first question posed was:

“1. You posited in 2006: ‘Neither here nor elsewhere did there exist any order to kill the Jews.’ Please provide one PROOF — just ONE proof — that this statement is true!”

I have learned a great deal about Dr. Lindtner in the years following my meeting him in Tehran. It is clear that he is one of those who, like Finkelstein—and Faurisson himself—has a mind exceptionally well organized. So how Lindtner could have asked Faurisson such a mindless question was beyond me. Prove there was NO order? How? Who is there among us who can prove that God did not—did NOT—create the heavens and the earth? Following my moment of astonishment that Lindtner could have been so careless, others have challenged him. Fredrick Toben, Michael Hoffman, and especially Juergen Graf. Maybe others. I have not followed the back-and-forth.

*** Three weeks ago both the grandkids got the flu. Then their mother. It was very difficult to get over. Then my wife fell victim. I was fine. They all went to the doctor, took their medicines but they couldn’t kick it. Didn’t touch me. I was okay. A couple months back at the VA it was suggested I take a flu shot but I declined. Who needs a flu shot? I’m heavy into supplements to keep me healthy. And then a week ago today it hit me. Knocked me out. Literally. Lost the best part of five days.

*** We are in a solid position to begin to address Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, focusing on his Academy Award documentary The Big Lie. We will concentrate on the 25 university campuses that offer full access to the Foundation’s 50,000 “survivor” testimonies on video tape. One primary tool we will use will be to provide knowledge of, and access to, Eric Hunt’s nine-part video/movie, a work-in-progress, The Last Days of the Big Lie. One reader, after viewing Hunt’s segments on the diamond-swallowing Irene Zisblatt, comments with some energy. “A requirement of all Holocaust Survivor literature imagined decades after Liberation (or escape) is that it includes at least one miracle. Dingbat Zisblatt misread the “rules of derangement” and includes a miracle in just about every paragraph. “How could anyone listen to this screeching seagull without bursting into breath-losing guffaws or having one’s head explode? I could have a more intelligent conversation with my mis-bred Persian cat, Mineunne. And this cat is retarded! Zisblatt’s babbling can be likened to one on a valium I.V. drip with a spike of a 50 mg Nembutal /Demerol cocktail q.i.d. Steven Spielberg has no shame.”

*** Here we are, the end of yet another year. We never know which way the cat is going to jump. American military all over the globe, ready and willing to die for the Greater Good. Endless family tragedies on both sides of every confrontation. Christmas. Maybe it is not a time to be “merry.” Maybe it is a time to take time to reflect on how we are living with our neighbors, near and far.


Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Fragments, Another Ordinary Life
Sources: Smith’s Report, no. 187, December 2011, pp. 3f., 15f.
Published: 2011-12-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 11, 2015, 6:44 p.m.
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