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SR reader Bill Jefferson faxes me a printout from the University of Notre Dame Holocaust Project. On April 26th there will be a conference: “Humanity at the Limit: The Impact of the Holocaust Experience on Christians and Jews.” Speakers include Saul Friedlander (UCLA and University of Tel Aviv), John Pawlikowski (Catholic Theology Union) and Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former president, (Notre Dame U). The moderator is Raul Hilberg (author of The Destruction of the European Jews).
Other academic institutions represented are Hebrew U, Indiana U, Gerhard Botz U (Vienna), Hebrew Union College, Brooklyn College, Fordham U, U Minnesota, Skirball Cultural Center, Yad Vashem (Jerusalem), Emory U, UC Berkeley, Catholic U of America, Northwestern U, Sklodowska U (Poland), U North Carolina, U of Augsburg, U of Wuppertal, Bischöfliche Akademie (Aachen), Institut Kirche und Judentum (Berlin), U Houston, Brandeis U, U Pittsburgh. You get the picture.
Jefferson has discovered that on the Notre Dame Website related to the Conference there is a page listing “Other Holocaust Sites.” It lists all the usual culprits, twenty of them, but the twenty-first listing is “Revisionists.” Jefferson clicks on Revisionists and discovers he can immediately reach Bradley Smith’s Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, as well as the Institute for Historical Review and Ernst Zündel. The significance of this does not escape the steel-trap mind of Bill Jefferson. This may be the first time that a major American university Holocaust project has facilitated access to revisionist materials. This is a milestone. We want to participate in some way.
We have very little time; it's three days before the Conference starts. Jefferson suggests that we buy space in the Notre Dame Observer to congratulate the Notre Dame Holocaust Project for its open-mindedness. I think that it’s a good idea, but that it won’t fly. Such an ad would imply, it would state straight out that we are now speaking as a member of the club. The Observer would never run it. Faculty advisors would advise against it. Such a statement would “compromise” all the academics scheduled to participate in the conference. But Jefferson will not be discouraged. He will write the ad, and he will pay for it. That’s the ticket. I have no money, and I’m on deadline for Smith’s Report, so I have no time. He’s offered me a deal I can’t refuse.
Jefferson wants to make a statement that relates to his personal spiritual life. “Christ didn’t charge me with judging Germans,” he tells me. “Christ charged me with loving them. That includes Nazis. Especially Nazis. In our time it’s Nazis who need our love, not Jews. Liberals don’t understand that, Christian liberals. Liberals pick and choose. Their love is based on politics, not on what Christ said.”
All right, I think. We’ll see. We have one night to get this thing written and make a deal with the N.D. Observer. The conference begins the 26th. The last issue of The Observer before the conference is Friday, the 24th. Today is the 21st.
22 April: Jefferson faxes me the copy for the ad, written in pencil, with a squiggly border drawn around it. It will be three columns wide and four inches deep. Nice size.
The idea he uses is very simple, particularly apt for a student body and faculty that is substantially Christian.
I would never have thought of it. If Jews and Christians can agree to disagree about the trial of Jesus and go on living together until one or the other changes his mind, establishment professors and revisionists can agree to disagree about the trial of the Germans at Nuremberg until all the conflicting issues of that trial are settled. That it is imperative that we choose to respect each other’s conscience on such matters.
So we have the statement. It’s a good one. It’s the kind of statement the people at Notre Dame and those who are about to attend the Notre Dame Holocaust Project conference need to hear. Our side is on a roll. I touch up the text here and there and we have it. (See page three.)
I telephone The Observer, introduce myself to a young lady in advertising, and reserve space for publication of the statement in the issue of Friday the 24th. The ad will cost $87. That’s cheap. I will drive across the border—to the “other side” as we Mexicans say—to San Ysidro and overnight the money and camera-ready copy to The Observer. I’m a little uneasy because the young lady will not tell me her name. Not even a first name.
I fax the ad to The Observer to make sure it’s the right size and confirm that $87 is the right price. We don’t want some detail to present itself as an excuse not to run the ad. There is no response from The Observer. I wait for two hours then fax the advertising department again, pointing out that it will soon be too late for me to get to the other side to overnight the ad and the money.
I suppose I know what’s happening. Advertising showed the ad to editorial, editorial sensed a problem and showed it to their faculty advisor who is absolutely certain something is wrong and who is trying to convince the students not to run it. That’s how it works. But then, you never really know what’s happening, you just have to keep pushing. There is no response to the second fax. Jefferson calls me here in Baja and I tell him it was a good idea but that it looks like The Observer is going to stonewall us.
Win one, lose one.
23 April This morning, upstairs in my office, there is a message in my voice mail box in San Diego from a young lady in The Observer's advertising department. She is responding to the second fax I sent yesterday. Her name is Erin. They don’t have the ad, they don’t know what happened to it, and in any event they will have to have the money before they run anything. It sounds as if the door is open to running the ad, but now it’s too late to overnight it. The ad and the money have to be at The Observer this afternoon.
I fax a letter to advertising addressed to Erin and the advertising manager. I recapitulate the story as it developed yesterday and this morning. I say I will drive to the other side and send the money by Western Union. They will have it this afternoon. I follow the letter with a third copy of the ad, and give permission to advertising to use the faxed copy for reproduction. I acknowledge that the quality may not be first rate. I ask that these arrangements be confirmed by fax or telephone. There’s no response.
I wait two hours, then I telephone Jefferson in Chicago. I can’t reach him. I fax his office but there is no response. I call his beeper number three times within three minutes to get his attention, and before long he rings me back. I tell him we have a small opening with The Observer, but it’s very small, and that he has got to close it from his side of the border somehow. Jefferson says okay. Twenty minutes later he calls me back. He’s talked to The Observer. They’re going to run the ad. They don’t need the money. They’ll wait for a check.
We’re very happy. It has become very important for us to congratulate the Notre Dame Holocaust Project before the conference and all its stellar stars get together. We want to participate. Of such small joys a happy life is made. Jefferson says he will drive over to Notre Dame tomorrow and pick up a copy of the paper. I remind him that the statement will not be run until it’s run. It’s out of our hands now. That he may make a four-hour round trip drive and shoot a blank.
24 April As mentioned, I’m on deadline for SR 54, and I have a lot of office work to catch up on and it’s my wife’s birthday and it’s one thing and another and I don’t start thinking about the Notre Dame statement until late in the afternoon. At 8pm Jefferson calls. He’s at Notre Dame. There are no Observers left. For some reason this has been a particularly interesting issue. He looked through the trash cans until he found a copy of the paper.
The Observer ran the statement. It’s on page 17, but they ran it. A Lutheran and an agnostic speak out briefly about matters of conscience to a great Catholic university where the great modern trauma of the Jews is going to be addressed yet one more time. And there is one more thing to say here. Jefferson didn’t say it but I know he would have if I had asked him. If Jesus charged us with loving Germans and even Nazis rather than judging them—not their organizations or theories but themselves as men and women—he charged us with loving Jews as well. Not judging them. I’m not a Christian but even I can see how lovely and how very deep such a charge is.
NOTRE DAME HOLOCAUST PROJECT
for recognizing revisionism and providing access to revisionist sites on the Internet, such as CODOH, as resources available to students and scholars.
Christians and Jews have learned to respect each other’s conscience and agree to disagree over such important issues as the trial of Jesus of Nazareth.
Scholars associated with the Holocaust Project and revisionists are now able to respectfully disagree about such topics as the Nuremberg trials.
Surely, this is all for the best.
Bradley R. Smith
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, no. 54, May 1998, pp. 2f.|
|First posted on CODOH:||Oct. 28, 2015, 3:28 a.m.|