I Hope the Wrong People Don’t Read This (for His Sake)

Published: 2017-09-05

There is at Duke University’s Trinity College a young Jewish man of many parts. His name is Jason Beck and he writes a column, we read, every other Tuesday for the Duke Chronicle, Duke’s independent student newspaper. His August 29 column, by all appearances the first, is titled “The Price of Freedom,” and by (my) contemporary standards, it’s a corker. He takes a minority position (on campuses such as Duke’s) in favor of freedom of expression and decries the political correctness, “safe spaces” and violent domination by squads of leftists sporting names such as “antifa” currently sweeping American campuses.

So far, so good; he’s in good company. More to the point, he has company. But by his sixth paragraph, after defending (the freedom to speak of) such figures as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopolous and Linda Sarsour, he wanders off “overseas” and correctly lists over a dozen countries where he says “Holocaust denial” is a crime. After noting that “Holocaust denial is one of the most abhorrent beliefs a person could have,” he nonetheless decries its criminalization with the zinger:

The cure for Holocaust denial is not state-sponsored legal action, but academic debate showing the true horror of the Holocaust.

What? Open debate on the Holocaust? Even calling for that might be a crime in, say, Israel (one of the countries he lists). He feels such repression actually fuels right-wing reactionism.

But it gets better. Seeking a way to offer this young idealist some encouragement, and perhaps a cautionary remark or two, I found him listed in LinkedIn, where the most-interesting entry in a list of experience that seemed quite long to me for someone still yet to attain majority, was one year and three months as a research associate with the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, where he won an award for outstanding service in 2015. Perhaps it was there that his research apprised him of the state of free speech in the countries he listed in his article; the interest he took in the matter suggests a devotion to ideals somewhat broader than those characterizing the tribal interests readily to be seen as served by Holocaust Memorials and Tolerance Centers in general. One wonders whether he did or even could write articles for the HMTCNC of quite the same tenor as the one here discussed that he fielded in the Chronicle.

I never did manage to convey my good wishes to this far-thinking young man, so I will do so here, and hope that one day his obviously very-penetrating research will bring him to this page to receive them.

In the meantime, I with equal fervor wish this young man good luck and fortitude. In today’s world, whether he has been taught the hard lessons yet or not, he will need them.

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Author(s): Jett Rucker
Title: I Hope the Wrong People Don’t Read This (for His Sake)
Published: 2017-09-05
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 5, 2017, 6 p.m.
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