Wednesday, 3 January
Denial, a new play by Peter Sagal, had its world premiere in December at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Shades of O'Niel and all the others. The play concerns a Jewish attorney working for the ACLU who is asked to defend a professor and author who is a holocaust revisionist. Federal authorities have seized the professor's mailing lists and other records and plan to prosecute him on the grounds that he has incited violence against Jews by arguing in books and lectures that the holocaust never happened. The story is driven by the lawyer's struggle over her commitment to the First Amendment on the one hand and her abhorrence of the professor on the other.
I'm particularly interested in the holocaust controversy as it is expressed in the arts. In this instance it sounds to me that Peter Sagal has got the conundrum about right, so far as the politics of the issue goes. Will we have intellectual freedom or won't we? With regard to the moral issues involved he may not be so clear headed. "I didn't write the play to convince people that the Holocaust happened," he is quoted as saying. "The Holocaust is incontrovertible fact… I wrote the play to ask, 'What do you do about someone who says things that make you want to hit him?'"
It appears from the review in the Bergen Sunday Record that Sagal holds that the holocaust is an incontrovertible fact primarily because, as he is not a religious Jew, his sense of being a Jew was largely his "shared memory" of the story of the holocaust. A tribal story, which if it catches on will become a tribal myth before our eyes and true believers will convince themselves to kill and die to defend it. "When I was growing up, it was taught to me very intently in Hebrew school. It was always a part of what I knew about the world, a part of what it meant to be Jewish." Without the holocaust, it would seem, Sagal's sense of being a Jew would be different, perhaps not so focused. We don't learn here what the other parts of being Jewish mean to him. In any event, Sagal tells us that he was educated to want to strike out, to "hit," those who express doubt about the beliefs he was taught.
With regard to the moral issues of the holocaust controversy, then, Sagal tells us he has been trained by his particular cultural conditioning to want to strike down those do not believe what he believes. With regard to American culture, this is no laughing matter. Jews are the most influential cultural minority in America and their influence in the arts, media and our legal system is immense. As a matter of fact, revisionists are struck down at every turn, on what appears to be for many Jews some kind of poorly understood religious principle. The holocaust story outlines modern Jewish religion for Jews who find their traditional religious beliefs no longer worthy of adult commitment, which largely they are not, while the two thousand-year-old commitment to the struggle against heresy continues to be played out in the same intolerant, self-righteous and ungenerous way it was played out in the first great act of that other great heresy.
When you have a minority cultural movement with a profound influence on American culture as a whole, which inculcates in its adherents values of violence, repression, and control over others with regard to what is seen as the defining "moral" moment of the 20th century, then you have a moral issue of great importance to the public at large. In almost every instance, with regard to the holocaust controversy, the Peter Sagals find the problem to lie outside themselves entirely. Much of the problem does lie outside themselves. Nevertheless, not to see that the subjectively conditioned need to hit those who express skepticism about what Jews and others believe suggests a religious training that had better have been left outside the destroyed walls of Jerusalem two millennia ago.
I think it was something like this that one Jewish heretic was addressing when he taught that it might be a good idea to remove the mote from your own eye before you try to tear it out from the eye of the other guy. That is, you work on yourself first and when you get the pieces together and you still have the taste for it, you set about saving the world.
(Meanwhile, I'd like to have the script to Sagal's play, if anyone has the time to get it for me. Denial, by Peter Sagal.)
Thursday, 4 January
I see where Noam Chomsky has settled in comfortably with the charge that Walter Rauff "created the gas chambers" (Secrets, Lies and Democracy, p. 88). Maybe he did. Has someone, anyone, shown this to be true? Chomsky has been described in the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive." Maybe he is. I've been a fan for years.
In her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sexual Practices, Brenda Love writes that the wife of the commandant of Buchenwald would "fondle" prisoners on their way to the gas chamber. I can imagine that if she were fondling male prisoners on the way to the gas chambers she must have encountered some really teeny weenies. My own would have been up in my throat. Then, of course, there is the problem that the Buchenwald gassing chambers were given up on by the orthodox historians about 40 years ago.
Love also writes that "Hitler did have the exterminations in concentration camps filmed." Maybe they're on Beta.
A couple years ago Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Lawyer and proud member of the O.J. Simpson dream team defense gang, put it out that I had challenged him to debate the holocaust controversy. I mention it here because this little invention is repeated with some regularity in the print press and on the Internet:
"Recently, Mr. Smith invited me to debate whether the Holocaust occurred. He knows he cannot win, but he would like to be able to say that Alan Dershowitz regards the issue as worthy of debate. I have written him that I will debate the Holocaust, but only as part of a series on the following subjects: (1) that slavery did not exist in America, (2) that Elvis Presley is still alive and (3) that the earth is flat." (Washington Times, 14 Febr. 92)
The two primary problems with this tale is that I did not invite Dershowitz to debate, and I did not receive the letter Dershowitz says he wrote me. Why would Dershowitz invent this stuff, and why would he allow it to be circulated?
"Bradley [R] Smith and his ilk have been trying to turn an incontestable historical fact into a 'debatable' issue. As part of this process, Mr. Smith has tried to buy full-page advertisements in college newspapers. These ads call for 'open debate' on whether the Holocaust occurred. Invoking currently voguish language about 'campus thought police,' and 'political correctness,' Mr. Smith says students should be 'encouraged to investigate the Holocaust story the [same] way they are encouraged to investigate every other historical event.'
I agree with the formulation… American slavery is studied, but no one 'debates' whether there were slaves, because that is not a debatable issue.
The same juvenile response, again and again. Harvard lawyers, the Deborah-Lipstadt-historians, every mainline Zionist organization on the planet use it. Of course no one debates whether slavery existed, just as no one debates that the Jews of Europe suffered a catastrophe during the Hitlerian regime. With regard to slavery, we certainly do debate how many Blacks were enslaved, who enslaved them, why, how they were transported, how they lived and died, where they worked, what the conditions were, the rights and wrongs of the issue, and so on ad infinitum. The idea put forward by our intellectual elites and their media hangers-on that to question the gas chamber stories, for one example, is to say that Jewish culture did not suffer a catastrophe in Eastern Europe during World War Two, is too disengenuous by far. I do not believe that students, particularly, are going to continue to allow themselves to be used in this sickly way.
Friday, 5 January
An AP story addressing the 50th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials and widely printed in November (see: The Topeka Capital-Journal, 19 Nov. 95, p. 9-D) tells us that among the evidence submitted by the Allied prosecutors was the "head of a Polish officer, shrunken to the size of a fist to serve as a paper weight." This is a tiny story but it's been used for 50 years to illustrate the baseness of German behavior during the war. One picture, one image, is worth a thousand words. Yet we don't know who produced this shrunken head. It may well have been the Soviets. How do we know it was the head of a Polish officer for that matter? His tunic collar? These are such little stories, repeated again and again for decades, never investigated by the press and never straightened out by the professors for the press, that successfully represent the German right as base and its liberal left critics as morally sound. Revisionism is such a hot potato because it complicates that self-indulgent bias.
Dear Abby (Abigail Van Buren), a woman who is read widely in our house, understands the revisionist urge considerably better than the professors appear to. In one of her columns she reprints a letter from a lady reader to the effect that it is "better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it." A housewife with a better sense of Western Culture than Alan Dershowitz.
"A Draft of a Legal Policy Paper on how to Deal with the Dissemination of Racist and Holocaust-Denial Information via Electronic Media, particularly the Internet.," can [could, ed.] be gotten from: ...[now: http://www.shc.edu/theolibrary/resources/denial.htm]
The author is Avi Jacob Hyman who conducts seminars on the Internet and related computer-mediated communication issues at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, is managing editor of the electronic publication, Jewish Studies Judaica eJournal; co-published by the Smamash Project of the New York State Educational Research Network and the H-Net Group at the University of Illinois - Chicago. He is a former managing editor of Canada's largest Anglo-Jewish monthly newspaper.
Hyman's essay appears to be well considered, the work of a good, tough mind, trained in the subject to which he has put his attention. At the same time, when he first mentions "individuals who question the authenticity of the Holocaust" he identifies them as a group with "deniers," that is, not as individuals who question parts of the holocaust story or are skeptical of it, but as individuals who deny the whole thing from beginning to end. At this first step outside his professional path, he is incapable of discriminating between skepticism and denial. What good is his intellectual training and the quality of his mind if he can't make this simple distinction? He explains it all for us a little later.
Let me say, at the outset, blood-relatives of mine were murdered by the Nazi killing machine for no reason other than that they were Jewish, and it is not my intention here to give deniers a free hand in spreading their hate.
So here we have it. Hyman believes that fifty years ago in Europe Nazis murdered some of his relatives (maybe they did) so half a century later, in America, he will work to pollute intellectual freedom out of a sense of — what? Does he believe, for example, that I want to deny that one of his uncles, say, was killed by a Nazi? I have no idea what might have happened to Hyman's blood relatives during World War Two. If a Nazi did kill Hyman's uncle for no reason other than that the fellow was a Jew, I condemn the murderous act, not the victim of it.
Nevertheless, because I am skeptical about other alleged killings I am told about, those in the Auschwitz "gassing chambers" for example, Avi-Jacob Hyman believes I should be denied the right to express my skepticism and my reasons for it. His intellect and training notwithstanding, his irrationality overwhelms him. He broadly identifies "revisionism" with "denial' and denial with "hate." He is emotionally too insecure, or too ambitious, to allow men like myself to publicly question his deeply held beliefs without feeling himself to be hated. I don't know what I can do about that, but I can't keep still about what I think to protect the sensibilities of neurasthenic intellectuals.
Now Avi is going to work to deny me the right to express what I think, and maybe even prevent me from revealing what I feel, on the Internet. I didn't kill his uncle, or anyone else in his family, I condemn those who did, if they did, but I will be punished today by Avi, half a century after the crime was committed, if Avi has his way. It's all laid out there in Avi's draft paper on how to deal legally with "… Holocaust Denial Information via Electronic Media, particularly on the Internet."
There is something very dramatic in watching smart, educated Jews work to undermine not only our traditions of intellectual freedom in Western Culture, but that same ancient tradition in Jewish culture as well. It's as if they feel trapped by the promise of intellectual freedom rather than liberated by it. They chew at their own roots like trapped animals chew at their legs.
Saturday, 6 January
The holidays are finally over. When your in-laws are Mexican the holidays begin early and end late. It's exhausting. At four in the morning the women are still in the kitchen making tamales while the men have had you up all night in the front room preaching the evangelical gospel, rolling their eyes and telling each other here is a man with a closed mind. Then it's over, the visitas are gone, you have the flu and a hangover and a bad stomach and you're exhausted with three months work on preparing The Project and you're restless too. What do you do? You go out alone to a movie.
I saw Michael Mann's "Heat" with Pacino and DeNiro and Val Kilmer and John Voight. It's a tremendously engrossing movie. Mann is one of the very largest figures in world cinema today. Once Heat is over, nothing remains. It was a dream, someone else's, and now it's gone with the man who told it to you. A critic notes that Mann is not interested in ideas, but in behavior. Maybe that's it — why, when it's over, it's over. Ideas are what pattern behavior and paste it into the reality of your life. And in the very last scene of this wonderfully made film, a single false note is struck. DeNiro should not have spoken. After sitting through three hours of tremendous American film making, and only a man with profound American instincts could have made this film, I walked out under the street lights on Main street reflecting on the sentimentalism of the brief, absolutely unimportant last scene. I was struck by the unfairness of my reaction, this tiny misstep at the finale of such a large accomplishment. But that's one of the problems with observing how you really feel about something, even very small things. It's very likely you're going to see something you would rather not have seen.
Monday, 8 January
Peter Sagal's Long Wharf production of Denial has been reviewed lazily in the New York Times (28 December) by Ben Brantly. Sagal's "revisionist" has "devoted his life to the proposition that the Holocaust is a myth," which Brantly describes as "full-strength poison," without giving any hint why that is so in the context of the play. We can't tell from the review what the revisionist really thinks or what he really denies. What was the "holocaust" in this man's eyes? Brantly remarks on the "dangerous cause" of the revisionist character without telling us why it is dangerous, and observes the play asks the "sadly familiar question: should the right to free speech be guaranteed even to those who preach a philosophy of hatred?" There is no hint in Brantly's lazy review of what this hatred consists of. And there you have it of course. To "deny" (express doubt?) what the elite culture believes with regard to the holocaust story is to be a hater. In American theater and cinema, the cultural standards by which these issues are presented and judged are frozen and have been since the end of World War Two. It's a cultural standard that remains remarkably Stalinist in its cultural politics, and Stalinist in its aesthetics. Worker's theater for 1990s intellectuals and media guys.
I'm informed that it took one of our people all day yesterday to upload James J. Martin's "Pro-Red Orchestra Tunes Up in the USA" and post it under The Tangled Web. In this long essay Martin describes the Stalinist cultural environment created in America in the late 1930s through the mid-1940s to promote Stalin and his malevolent anti-human cultural and political ideals. It was this work, done largely by intellectual elites that are only now losing their grip on American culture, that prepared us to accept the Jewish holocaust story which was, of course, if Carlos Porter has it right, "made in Russia."
Tuesday, 9 January
Tom Leykis is a successful, syndicated, liberal talk show host, a rarity these days. He's very outspoken and very tough. He's featured on the cover of the November 1995 issue of Talkers magazine, which has been described as the Bible of the Talk Show industry. The publisher and editor of Talkers is Michael Harrison, an energetic, likable fellow in his forties, Jewish, who blackballed me from advertising myself as a talk show guest in his periodical.
I did the Tom Leykis show in-studio one evening in Los Angeles maybe five years ago. There was a second guest, a professional anti-antisemite whose name I don't recall. It was a lively show. At one place Leykis did something I thought intellectually unforgivable, though it was such a curious thing for him to have committed himself to that I wasn't particularly offended by it.
We had gotten onto the subject of the trustworthiness of survivor testimony. I made the point that some of it could be trusted and some couldn't and it was wrong and wrong-headed to be sentimental over the issue. I explained for example, that Shmuel Krakowski; the archives director at Yad Vashem, which is the international center for holocaust documentation in Jerusalem, had told the Jerusalem Post that more than 10,000 eyewitness testimonies about German atrocities against Jews had proven to be "unreliable." Leykis said he didn't believe it. I repeated that it was the archives director at Yad Vashem who was saying it, not me. I recall how, during a break, Leykis stood up and took off his headset and looked at me balefully from the corner of his eye and said: "Ten thousand? I don't believe it. I don't care who said it." I thought well, there you are. That's where we are with media in this culture with respect to discussing the holocaust story. To hell with whatever the facts might be.
As it turns out, I learned last year that Shmuel Krakowski denied he made the statement about the 10,000 false eyewitness testimonies. He claimed the reporter got it wrong, or invented it. Maybe she did. At this stage of the game, who knows? Leykis, with no information and going on instinct alone, may have been right and I, the one with the info, may have been wrong. Nevertheless, how are you going to discuss a story if you won't treat with the facts of the story as they're known? That's the problem for Leykis. I've done a little something on the Krakowski incident in Break His Bones in the chapter titled You Don't Have to be Jewish (1995).
Thursday, 11 January
A page-one story in the 10 January issue of the New York Times is headed:
"Citing the rapidly expanding presence of organized hate groups on the Internet,' a leading Jewish human rights group [the Simon Wiesenthal Center] yesterday began sending letters to hundreds of Internet access providers and universities asking them to refuse to carry messages that 'promote racism, anti-Semitism, mayhem and violence.'
"'Internet providers have a First Amendment right and a moral obligation not to provide these groups with a platform for their destructive propaganda,' Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, wrote in the letter that was sent to America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy, the Microsoft Network and dozens of Internet service providers. Rabbi Cooper said the target of yesterday's call for 'ethical rules of engagement on the Internet' was not the many discussion forums where individuals debate such topics as whether the Holocaust actually occurred, but rather the Internet's World Wide Web, a service that allows users to publish electronic documents — including text, pictures and even sound clips — that can be read by millions of people."
I agree with the Rabbi on this one. I do feel I have a civic and moral obligation to not help promote racism, antisemitism, mayhem or violence, not to mention a few other things. Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Marvin Hier of the Simon Wisenthal Center have spent 15 years struggling to suppress open debate on the holocaust controversy on the grounds that revisionist theory is "antisemitic." The rabbis feel I hate them because I don't believe the gas chamber stories and they do. What can I say? I don't hate them. There's something awfully fragile, or awfully wrong, with men who feel themselves to be despised because what they believe is not believed by others.
When I turn to my files the first document I pull from the SWC folder is a fund-raising letter received here in November 1994. In it one can read: "When the 'revisionist' Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust placed slick, full-page ads in college and university newspapers all across the country denying the historical truth of the Holocaust, we mobilized our NATIONAL TASK FORCE AGAINST HATE [sic] to combat efforts to diminish and deny the Nazi Genocide and demean its victims!"
The SWC equation then? The desire to have an open debate on the Holocaust controversy is hateful toward Jews, that is, antisemitic. .That's why the SWC rabbis need their National Task Force Against "Hate" rather than a national task force to prove revisionist theory wrong. When the SWC asks Internet providers to restrict access to Websites which carry messages that promote "antisemitism," read "revisionism." For the rabbis, revisionism is hate. I'm a revisionist, therefore I hate them and all other Jews too. Sometimes I see the spiritual pathos in such behavior, sometimes I see the comic in it.
My mother still tells the story of the troubles I had with one of my playmates when I was four years old. I hardly remember the kid but we have a photo of the two of us in the driveway beside our bungalow in Hollywood. Alvin used to push me around and take my toys. One day I got frustrated with him because he hit me and I complained to Mother. She said, "Bradley, the next time Alvin hits you, just smack him back." That wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. "I don't want to fight wif him," Mother says I said. "I want to play wif him."
That's how I feel about the Rabbi Coopers and the rest of the gang at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I don't want to fight with them, I want to talk to them. I feel rejected. The rabbis make it plain they don't want to talk to me. I don't understand that. I'm not a Christian, I don't believe Jesus was the son of God, but Christians talk to me all the time. I'm not even questioning the Jewish God. I'm only saying I doubt that the German State employed a certain weapon during World War Two.
Christina Bottemly, Editor in Chief of the Pioneer at Pierce College (Tacoma WA), informs me that the Pioneer will not run an advertisement I submitted to the paper. The reason she gives is that the editorial board deems the ad "unsuitable." It's unsuitable because it offers information about "gas chambers" which may appear to some to be "Nazi , or skin head related." There have been incidents of racial graffiti appearing on the Pierce College campus. If the Pioneer runs our ad there may be some individuals in the community who will identify Pierce college with Nazism in addition to racism.
There is no question of judging the ad on its merits or judging the information it offers free on the World Wide Web on its merits. No matter that the ad has nothing to do with race. No matter that you can not inquire after the gassing chambers without it being "Nazi" related because it is only Nazis who are accused of having had them. No matter that when the professors lecture on the "holocaust" that their speech is Nazi-related as a matter of course because it's all right for them because there is no danger that in their Nazi-related speech anything would be said that goes against orthodox views about gassing chambers presently accepted in academia. In short, faculty members on the Pioneer board are setting an example for their students which encourages students to put "appearances" first and academic freedom and a free press second. It doesn't surprise me.
My experience over the last five years assures me that it is going to have to be students who force the issue of intellectual freedom with regard to the holocaust controversy. There does not appear to be a single professor on a single campus in the United States of America willing to take the lead. (Click here for more on this subject.)
Sunday, 14 January
I have received another fund-raiser mailing from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), signed by its dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier. The letter is undated but mentions Louis Farrakhan and the Million Man March so it was mailed this winter, probably in November and December. I suppose it's undated so that it does not have to be updated. I received the last such letter in November 1994.
Rabbi Marvin Hier and his right hand man Rabbi Abraham Cooper are stirring up the Internet with their call for suppressing "vicious, antisemitic venom like [Farrakhan's Million Man March statement]: "… little Jews were being turned into soap while big Jews washed themselves in it." It's been the rabbis themselves of course who have promoted the Jewish soap scam for half a century.
Rabbi Hier's own man, Simon Wiesenthal, has been one of the many Jewish, unapologetic promoters of the human soap story. In 1946 Wiesenthal was already at it. In the Austrian Jewish newspaper Der Neue Weg ("The New Path") he wrote that at a factory at Belzec 900,000 Jews were used as "raw material" to manufacture various commodities and that, "The rest, the residual fat stuff, was used for soap production." And then he wrote with exceptional vulgarity, even for this very vulgar man: "In each piece of soap [the Germans] saw a Jew who had been magically put there, and had thus been prevented from growing into a second Freud, Ehrlich or Einstein."(See: "Simon Wiesenthal: Bogus 'Nazi Hunter,'" by Mark Weber, Institute for Historical Review.)
I recall the moving moment in Farrakhan's MMM speech where he urged Black men to ask forgiveness for what they have done to so many of their women and children, and to each other. I think a healing gesture for the rabbis at the Simon Wiesenthal Center would be to urge their brethren to ask forgiveness for having endorsed, for so many years, the disgusting and brutal anti-German human soap story. (I have done something on this myself. See Break His Bones, the chapter titled "Rub-A-Dub-Dub".)
In his fund-raiser asking for money to support his campaign to limit intellectual freedom on the Internet, Rabbi Hier writes about "hateful, racist video games… rewarding players with 'points' for torturing prisoners, making their skin into lampshades… " When the Simon Wiesenthal Center first opened its doors it had on display a FAKE human skin lampshade. It wasn't removed until after the day revisionist David McCalden and libertarian/anarchist publisher Samuel Kunkin asked a few pointed questions about it. Has Rabbi Marvin Hier thought to ask forgiveness for the sheer vulgarity of his fake-human-skin-lamp-shade caper? Not much chance, eh? One begins to appreciate the delicate nature of the sensibilities of a Louis Farrakhan the more one reflects on those of the Rabbi Hiers of the world.
Rabbis Hier and Cooper tell the press that the Center does not want to suppress debate about the holocaust on the Internet. They only want to rid the Internet of hate. In his fund-raiser however Hier writes "Cyberspace has been targeted by vicious hate groups … [where young people] can also find seemingly 'legitimate' tracts and fact sheets denying the truth of the Holocaust "
Rabbi Her writes that "One of Japan's most popular and widely read magazines, Marco Polo, published an article to appear in bookstores and newsstands all over the country denying that there were gas chambers at the death camps during the Holocaust." No one should do that and be allowed to get away with it. As a matter of fact, Marco Polo did not get away with it. Rabbi Abraham Cooper flew to Japan and after a whirlwind week of who-knows-what the publishers of Marco Polo closed down the magazine!. The publisher didn't waste time chastising his editor for running an article not approved of by the SWC. He simply liquidated the whole shebang. This is what the rabbis at the Simon Wiesenthal Center consider a victory in service to their worldview. First Marco Polo, then the Internet.
Rabbi Hier reprints a paragraph about CODOH that first appeared in his November 1994 fund-raiser in this new, November 1995 fund-raiser. "When the 'revisionist' Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust placed slick, full-page ads in college and university newspapers all across the country denying the historical truth of the Holocaust, we mobilized our NATIONAL TASK FORCE AGAINST HATE [sic] to combat efforts to diminish and deny the Nazi Genocide and demean its victims!"
That is, the call for intellectual freedom to debate the holocaust controversy is hateful to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and the Simon Wiesenthal Center and must be fought. Not through a free exchange of ideas, but by mobilizing a task force to suppress intellectual freedom. And this is the agenda the rabbis have for the Internet — an Internet that's revisionist-free.
I have a friend who lives around the corner from the Simon Wiesenthal Center who I visit occasionally. One Saturday at noonday I parked at the curbing across the street from his house but instead of crossing the street to take care of business I decided to take a nap. It doesn't matter where I am, I'm a man who likes his siesta. I put the driver's seat back and stretched out and siested for 30, maybe 45 minutes. When I woke I felt so good I didn't bother sitting up but went on lying there in a luxury of indolence. After a moment I saw a fellow walking up the sidewalk toward me accompanied by a rather pretty, badly overweight woman with bleached hair. The small, slim man was dressed in black and walked diffidently, his head lowered and hung over to one side a bit. I recognized Rabbi Marvin Hier and, I suppose, the rabbi's wife. It was Saturday, so I suppose they were walking to Temple. They were going to walk right past the rolled down window of my car. Rabbi Hier would recognize my face. I rather wished that I was sitting up. I didn't particularly want to sit up while he and his wife were approaching me. I didn't want to draw their attention. If I went on lying where I was lying, and my gaze met Rabbi Hier's, I would be looking up at him while he was looking down at me. Did I want that? No, I didn't. At the same time I felt such considerations were silly. I was still thinking it over as the rabbi and his wife walked by, their own gazes looking down at the walk, ignoring me. So close, yet so far apart.
Back in the mid-1980s when I started doing radio, Rabbi Hier or someone else from the Center would call up the station where I was being interviewed and join in the fun. One night I was doing a call-in interview on a station down on the desert out of Palm Springs someplace. Rabbi Hier called in to show me up for the ignoramus I was and during his call he happened to mention that there were no gas chambers at Treblinka. He said there were none at Dachau and none at Treblinka either. This was really comic because Treblinka is the place where the Germans are supposed to have murdered 800,000 Jews in gas chambers, using the exhaust fumes of a diesel motor that had been removed from a Soviet tank. But Rabbi Hier insisted. No gas chambers at Treblinka.
Here was a man after my own heart, a man so genuinely disinterested in holocaust scholarship as a discipline that he could make a momentous gaffe about what has been described as the "purest" of the killing centers for Jews. I had no interest in the details of the field either. Rabbi Marvin Hier was using the holocaust story to lever up Jewish influence in American culture and support Zionist policies in Israel. I was interested in how the story is used to corrupt public discourse about U.S. policies toward Israel and to suppress intellectual freedom generally. Under the skin, we were brothers, Marvin and me. Our minds were on higher things. I think they still are.
Monday, 22 January
Nat Hentoff is at it yet one more time in the Village Voice. This time his article is headed:
"Sharod Baker, a senior at Columbia and president of the Black Students Organization, created a firestorm in the Columbia Daily Spectator on October 12 (1995)… Mr. Baker wrote: 'I singled out Jews because their oppression of blacks cannot go unnoticed while they disguise their evilness under the skirts and costumes of the Rabbi. Lift up the jarmulke and what you will find is the blood of billions of Americans weighing on their heads … If you look at the resources leaving Africa, you will find them in the bellies of Jewish merchants.'"
While I agree with Nat that Sharod Baker has written something which, on the face of it, is stupidly anti-Jewish, I note nevertheless that the Spectator published it. When I submitted my advertisement pointing out that the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. does not display any proof whatever that gassing chambers existed during World War Two, the Spectator refused to run it. Why? I'm going to take a run at answering this difficult question.
Those who manage public discourse at Columbia understand that Sharod Baker's observations are indefensible, and that in public debate Baker and his ideas will be exposed to the contempt and ridicule of the students and faculty at Columbia. There is not much chance that his ideas are going to become the focus of serious debate. Sharod Baker can be risked.
The same folk who tell the Columbia Spectator what to print and not to print don't want the gas chamber exhibits at the Holocaust Museum to become an issue for discussion because are not certain that the Museum's "gas chamber" exhibits will not become the focus of a real debate at Columbia. The editors at the Spectator have been unwilling to challenge those who advise them. Or they think the same way their advisors think.
Hentoff writes of the "tribalism" that has been encouraged by many colleges and universities with respect to the minorities on campus. "For instance, special self-segregated residence buildings are set up, and there are segregated orientation sessions at some colleges."
Hentoff is, himself, a prime example of segregation and tribalism — Jewish tribalism. Hentoff is a man who goes out of his way to report on how Christians have charged Jews with kidnapping Christian infants to "suck their blood." The reason the story angers him is that it has never been shown to be true. Hentoff, however, repeats again and again the story that Germans cooked Jews to make hand soap from their fat, an accusation for which he never offers any proof. That's what tribalism is. You condemn others for circulating false stories about your tribe, but you participate in circulating unproven and psychologically sick stories about those who you see as being enemies of your tribe. Of course, one of the reasons your tribe and the tribe of your enemy are enemies is that spokesmen for each tribe repeat stupid, unproven stories about each other.
Another, more balanced Jewish fellow, had a name for this sort of thing. He called it living in glass houses.
Thursday, 25 January
46 Revisionist Questions About the Nazi "Gas Chambers"
FREE on the World Wide Web [outdated address omitted]
Above is the advertisement the Pierce College Pioneer refuses to publish. The ad offers free information that anyone, student, professor or independent scholar who is Online or knows someone who is, can download for himself.
These are questions! Forty-Six questions! Who is it at Pierce College or the Pioneer who feels so threatened by having questions asked about the World War II "gas chambers" that they would argue against students being informed, simply, that the questions exist and are being offered FREE on the World Wide Web?
In my cover letter to the Pioneer, which accompanied the ad and payment for it, I made a promise in writing. I will make it again here:
Any student or faculty member associated with your campus may publish a refutation or criticism of any or all of the 46 Questions on the CODOH Website. Any spokesperson for any off-campus organization which believes the 46 Questions should not be asked or addressed for any reason whatever, may post their reasons for so believing on our Website.
In short, we say to one and all: if you can refute it, post it.
No one who believes in even the simplest notions of fairness, equality and intellectual freedom should expect others to listen to only one perspective regarding any historical theory or analysis. If this is not the time for open debate on the Holocaust controversy, when will the time come? If Pierce College is not the place to promote intellectual freedom regarding historical controversies, where is the place? If Pierce students today are too immature to be exposed to the fact that there are many questions being asked about the World War II gas chambers, when will they ever be looked upon as being mature enough to learn that such questions exist?
I was told by one of the Pioneer editors that this ad would not be run because of events that have happened on the Pierce College campus. These are " events" I know nothing about, but in any event have nothing to do with this advertisement. The Pioneer should come clean. If the Pioneer has an editorial policy of not allowing critical questions to be asked about the gas chamber stories, the wording of that policy should be published for its readership, or the reasons why it will not be should be made public by its editorial board and its faculty advisors.
Advertising called from The Daily Californian at UC Berkeley to say the Daily is running the 46 Questions ad. It will appear one time each week on Wednesday. Berkeley is the home of the Free Speech movement but has a history of suppressing open debate on the holocaust controversy and has allowed Marxist/fascist rowdies to force cancellation of three speaking dates by historian David Irving. Let's hope that publication of our ad will help the Berkeley administration relax a little and begin to take seriously its responsibility to encourage intellectual freedom rather than allowing itself to be co-opted by a small band of intellectual mobsters.
While I haven't seen a tear sheet yet from the Daily, I have gotten a couple dirty phone calls from young women who offer me their sexual favors if I will only ring them back, so I suppose the ad ran this past Wednesday. This is a scenario which oftentimes follows the appearance of a CODOH ad on a campus that boasts a significant anti-fascist (fascist) element in its population. These young ladies often recall to mind a question posed some years ago by Susan Sontag. She asked how it was possible to distinguish between a communist and a fascist. The implication being that tyranny is tyranny.
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith|
|Title:||Smith's Journal, Jan-96|
|First posted on CODOH:||Jan. 30, 1996, 6 p.m.|