The Irrational Vocabulary of the American Professorial Class with Regard to the Holocaust Question
Speech delivered at Tehran Holocaust Conference, 05 December 2006
Good afternoon (morning?). I'm very pleased to be here.
Today I will suggest that the American professorial class uses an irrational vocabulary to respond to revisionist arguments questioning the orthodox Holocaust story.
That the decision of the American professorial class to exploit this irrational vocabulary is a deliberate decision to avoid communication.
That the purpose in deliberately choosing to not communicate as scholars to either students or colleagues is to, effectively, nurture and protect an academic environment in which it is taboo to question the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans during World War II.
That to question the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans during World War II would necessarily suggest that the history of the 20th century would have to be rewritten, and the nature of the role of the United States in that war and in world affairs since would have to be reevaluated.
By "vocabulary" I mean: a stock of words used by an individual or group in a given field of knowledge, a collection of terms or codes available for use, a supply of expressive techniques.
Now — I want to say that I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong about anything I say here, anything I imply. Who is there who is not wrong about something, somewhere?
Being wrong is part of what we call life.
* * *
You are probably aware that early this year the Mehr News Agency in Teheran published an interview with American professor Arthur R. Butz, author of The Hoax of the 20th Century. The word "Hoax" in the title refers to the charge that during World War II the Germans allegedly used weapons of mass destruction--"homicidal gas chambers" -to kill millions of innocent, unarmed civilians for what the German administration argued was a "greater good."
You are probably aware that in this same interview published by Mehr, Professor Butz congratulated President Ahmadinejad on being the first State leader in the world to call into question the orthodox Holocaust story.
Some of you may not know, however, that Professor Butz is the only professor on an American university campus the United States of America-among the tens of thousands of professional scholars who swarm across our campuses-the only one who has publicly questioned the gas-chamber story, and thus the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans.
Professor Butz published The Hoax of the 2oth Century in 1976-thirty years ago. For 30 years the academic community in America has condemned Professor Butz, and has condemned his book, but in 30 years not one professional scholar has published one paper in one peer reviewed journal that attempts to demonstrate that Professor Butz is wrong about anything.
I believe this is the right moment to confess that I am not a professional scholar myself. I am a layman. I did not go to university. The work I do is so simple that you do not have to be highly educated to do it. You do not even have to be very smart. You only have to be willing. The work consists in finding ways to convince Americans, and the American professorial class particularly, that Holocaust revisionist scholars should be encouraged to publish their work in the routine manner that all other scholars are encouraged to publish theirs.
What could be more straight-forward? What could be simpler?
So-you do not have to be a genius to do the work I do.
From the mid-1980s until the early 90s I headed a program, sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, that we called The Media Project. The Institute had become the international center for Holocaust revisionist scholarship. The Media Project was conceived as an out-reach program where would try to take revisionist theory to the public through "live," on-air interviews via radio and television talk shows and news broadcasts.
The work was to argue, to a wide public audience, that intellectual freedom makes the same promise to those who believe the gas-chamber story that it makes to those of us who do not believe it. I argued that the promise of intellectual freedom is to shine the "light of day" on the facts of the matter, no matter what the facts are, so that believers and skeptics alike can see clearly what is there, and what is not there.
The nature of radio and television talk shows in America, and even news broadcasts, does not allow for a serious debate on specific historical issues. Twenty years ago there was almost no one in America who knew anything about revisionist arguments. Radio hosts and their listeners as well were scandalized to discover that I was suggesting that the Holocaust story should be opened up to a free exchange of ideas.
Responses to my arguments by the hosts of the programs and the audience were largely attacks on my character, my intelligence, and my good will. I was usually presented as a "curiosity," much like an animal in a zoo, to be gazed upon with amusement.
By the time the 1990s arrived I had appeared on more than 400 "live," on-air interviews via radio and television promoting an open debate on the Holocaust story. Revisionism was becoming a known quantity in America. It wasn't understood, it was openly ridiculed and condemned, but Americans were beginning to hear about it, to understand that something was going on.
At the same time, I had earned a national reputation as one of the leading "anti-Semites" in America.
Maybe in the world.
What a distinction, eh?
My Jewish friends were now ashamed to be seen with me. Friends who were not Jews were not certain they should be seen with me. There was a growing consensus that maybe, just maybe, that something had gone wrong inside my head. It can be very painful to lose your friends. But the more I talked about the fraud at the heart of the Holocaust story-the gas-chamber fantasy-the more interesting I found the prohibition-the taboo-against talking about it. And the more significant I understood the taboo to be.
Then in the early 1990s I made a critical decision. Instead of continuing to take revisionist arguments to radio and television audiences, ordinary folk with no especial knowledge about Holocaust history, I would run essay-advertisements in student newspapers on university campuses. I would take my work straight to the tiger's den. Straight to where I understood that professional scholars were waiting for the opportunity to eat me alive.
My collaborator on the first essay, the man who did the core of the work, was raised a Muslim. Neither he nor myself are religious now, we're both "secular," but the fact that this milestone revisionist essay was co-authored by one man raised a Muslim, and one raised a Christian, is an interesting and encouraging irony. I believe this is the first time I have ever mentioned this publicly.
If not now-when?
If not here-where?
I published my first full-page revisionist essay-advertisement in The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper at Northwestern University near Chicago. It appeared on 04 April 1991. It was titled "The Holocaust: How Much is False?" The text was some 2,700 words.
For the first time on an American university campus, core revisionist arguments challenging the orthodox Holocaust story were outlined in a university publication. Every observation we made reflected a commonplace revisionist argument. No student had ever read such arguments, and no professor had ever discussed them publicly. In the ad we informed our readers that:
- It cannot be demonstrated that the German State had a policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe, or anyone else, by putting them to death in gas chambers or by killing them through abuse or neglect.
- It cannot be demonstrated that 6 million Jews were "exterminated" during WWII.
- It cannot be demonstrated that homicidal gas chambers existed in any camp in Europe which was under German control.
- It cannot be demonstrated that the awful scenes of the dead and emaciated inmates captured on newsreel footage at Dachau, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen-were the victims of intentional killing and intentional starvation.
- It cannot be demonstrated, as the Holocaust Lobby claims, that there are "tons" of captured German documents which prove the mass murder of Jews and others in homicidal gas chambers.
- It cannot be demonstrated that, as was claimed during war crimes trials, that Jews were cooked to make soap from their fat, or skinned to make lampshades from their hides.
- It cannot be demonstrated that during the war the Red Cross, the Pope, humanitarian agencies, the Allied governments, neutral governments, and prominent figures such as Roosevelt, Truman, Churchill, Eisenhower all knew about "gas chambers" but kept quiet about them.
There it was. For the whole world to see. Standard Holocaust revisionist arguments.
One week after our advertisement appeared in The Daily Northwestern, the student paper printed a 1,250-word letter from a professor of history and German on that campus. His name was Peter Hayes. He taught a course on Holocaust studies. He still teaches it. If anyone at Northwestern University was capable of disputing any claim made in our ad, Professor Hayes was that man.
This was a milestone for revisionism. The first time a real Holocaust revisionist text was printed in a university publication, and the first time that professional scholars had the opportunity to demonstrate in public where at least one revisionist argument was wrong and why it was wrong.
Professor Hayes, however, did not address any assertion of fact in our ad.
Professor Hayes ignored the published text and-listen to this-in one modest column in a student newspaper, charged me with "manipulation," "deception," "distortion," "ignorance," "intimidation," "nastiness," "dishonesty," "duplicity," "maliciousness," "tastelessness," the "browbeating" academics like himself, "conspiracy mongering," "implausibilities" and "disinformation."
When I read the reply to our text by this professional scholar and lecturer on Holocaust Studies at a major university, I understood for the first time that in America it was the professorial class itself that had developed the concept of using an irrational vocabulary in a deliberate decision to "not" communicate with students or colleagues about revisionist arguments, no matter how simply they are put. Rather, they used a vocabulary of assault and insult to rupture any possible opportunity for authentic communication.
If, during the 1990s, Professor Hayes were to have proven to be an exception to the rule, his performance in the Daily Northwestern would not have been noteworthy. But that was not to be the case. He demonstrated the rule, not an exception to it.
Throughout the 1990s I ran essay-advertisements in student newspapers at hundreds of university and college campuses from one end of America to the other. Typically, each academic year I would write a new text. The response by the professorial class to these texts, year after year, was substantially the same. The texts would be ignored, while they would be attacked with an irrational vocabulary of insult, hysteria, and innuendo. All through the 90s. It was remarkable.
The few exceptions to this rule were typically written by student editors. None argued that any particular revisionist argument was sound, but a good number did argue that the Holocaust question should be open to a free exchange of ideas, just like any other historical question.
I worked at The Campus Project throughout the 1990s. Revisionism was making its way into the university and mainstream press, not as a valid historical perspective on the Holocaust, but it was being acknowledged as a fact of life.
During the 1999/2000 academic year I ran a one-quarter-page essay-advertisement in student newspapers titled "Holocaust Studies: Appointment with Hate?" It focused on the vocabulary of Nobel Prize recipient and world renowned Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. In the text I argued that Elie Wiesel is a demonstrable fraud.
The ad had run in student newspapers at some 35 campuses around the nation when the student newspaper at Boston University, The Daily Free Press, chose to run it. As it happens, Mr. Elie Wiesel teaches at Boston University.
And then, something remarkable happened.
A professional scholar made a decision to critique the text of this essay-advertisement. The man who chose to commit this courageous act was Dr. John Silber, the Chancellor of Boston University. The top man!
I was so accustomed to professional scholars evading my texts that when I heard that one of them had actually addressed what I had written, I felt a moment of anxiety. Who am I? Chancellor Silber is a professional scholar. He has spent his entire life in the American university system breaking bread with other professional scholars. I could be in real trouble.
Chancellor Silber wrote his criticism of my ad in an "Open Letter" which he sent to other university presidents around the country, and then to make certain that no one missed it, he arranged for it to be uploaded onto the World Wide Web.
In his Open Letter Chancellor Silber wrote that my ad was "false propaganda," a "violation of civil discourse," "a repudiation of learning [comparable to] flat earth theory," a jumble of "vicious lies," and that I myself am a "systematic" liar.
Okay so far!
Same old stuff.
But then Chancellor Silber began doing what professors do when they engage a text. He began addressing what I had written. I had read only a few words of his commentary when I found something odd.
In the ad I had written that "one" ideal of the university is intellectual freedom.
Chancellor Silber wrote that I misunderstood the ideal of the university. That the ideal of the university is " ... not merely to promote intellectual freedom, but also to promote intellectual responsibility in the pursuit of truth."
But I had not written "merely." I had written that intellectual freedom was "one" ideal of the university. It was right there in the ad. In black and white. The word "one." The word "merely" was not in my text. How could a professional scholar make such an error?
This might appear to be a small matter to some, but I was astonished. Dr. Silber is the chancellor of a major American university. Did he deliberately misquote me? I didn't want to believe that. Has he so busy administering his university that he was forgetting how to read? That was unlikely. I didn't know what to think.
But then Dr. Silber's critique of the text of my ad grew—not more subtle exactly, but more subjective.
In the ad I wrote, ironically: "Elie Wiesel has won the hearts and minds of Holocaust Studies professors with his counsel on how to perpetuate a loathing for Germans." I quoted directly from Mr. Wiesel.
Chancellor Silber was outraged.
This is what I quoted. :
"Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate-healthy virile hate-for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German."
I thought that was a pretty ugly piece of advice. How can you hate an entire people? An individual, maybe. Not an entire people. To make my point I illustrated it using the unhappy relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What would American professors think if a Palestinian were to write:
"Every Palestinian, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate - healthy virile hate - for what the Jew personifies and for what persists in the Jew."
The advice would be condemned; the Palestinian who gave it would be condemned. There would not be a lot of soul searching going on. It would happen immediately. Elie Wiesel had offered his advice to Jews on how to hate in his book Legends of Our Time published in 1968-more than 20 years earlier. The American professorial class, as a class, had said nothing and had continued to publicly support him as a professor and writer.
Dr. Silber misquoted me again a second time. Wiesel had used the term "the German" I had used the same term, "the German." Dr Silber replaced that term with the word "Germans." He then tried to argue that Elie Wiesel had not advised Jews to hate what personifies and persists in living Germans, that Mr. Wiesel was talking about "the German" of the "Nazi" generation.
But Mr. Wiesel did not mention the "Nazi" generation. He did not mention the "present" generation of Germans. This was all an invention of Chancellor Silber.
If Chancellor Silber were not the first professional scholar in America to actually address the text in one of my advertisements, I would not bother you with trying to explain how he manipulated my text. I will give only two more examples.
I quoted Elie Wiesel forwarding the crazy story how, after Jews were executed at Babi Yar in the Ukraine, "geysers of blood" spurted from their grave for "months afterward."
Chancellor Silber wrote:
Nowhere did Elie Wiesel claim to see geysers of blood, only that he heard these reported.
Chancellor Silber is right about this. Elie Wiesel does not claim to have seen these geysers of blood "with his own eyes"—he only forwards this stupid hallucination as if it were true! Jewish corpses pumping their blood up out of the earth in geysers into the sky?
Hollywood is a town, Hollywood is an industry that is utterly dedicated to the story of the "extermination" of the European Jews and the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans. Not even the folk who run Hollywood have tried to make money with this brainless "geysers of blood" invention. It takes a Holocaust survivor like Elie Wiesel to forward this trash. It takes a professional American scholar like Chancellor John Silber to evade the significance of Elie Wiesel forwarding such trash.
The final passage that I want to go over here is where I write that Elie Wiesel claims that he was liberated not only from Buchenwald, but from Dachau and from Auschwitz as well.
Dr. Silber points out, rightly, that in his book Night Elie Wiesel wrote that he was liberated from Buchenwald. The claims that he was liberated from Dachau was made by a reporter from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The claim that Elie was liberated from Auschwitz was made by a New York Times reporter. Dr. Silber suggests that in each case Elie Wiesel did not say what the reporters reported he said.
Okay. That's possible.
But years have passed. There are a few obvious questions to be asked.
How does a professional reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency mistake the word "Buchenwald" for the word "Dachau?"
How does a professional reporter for The New York Times mistake the word "Buchenwald" for the word "Auschwitz?"
And what proof does Chancellor John Silber of Boston University, a professional scholar, offer to demonstrate that these professional reporters did, in fact, make such mistakes and that Elie Wiesel did not say what they reported he said? He presents no evidence whatever.
I have a suggestion for Chancellor John Silber. He should ask Elie Wiesel about the story that appeared in the New York Times where Elie relates how he was struck by a taxicab so hard that he flew "an entire block" down Broadway, the main street in New York City. An entire block suggests that Elie "flew" some 200-plus feet. That's two-thirds the length of a football field!
Can you picture it? Can you see Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, the most famous Holocaust survivor in the world, sailing over the pavement in New York City, perhaps waving to a few professors down below, a few Holocaust survivors? Can you see how they are waving back? Maybe from up there he will discover proof that the German gas chambers really did exist after all. So long as he is not brought down by an unexpected geyser of blood.
A friend of mine suggests that Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel should be nominated for the "Nobel Prize for Individual Flight."
I like that.
Geysers of blood erupting from a mass grave of Jewish corpses, Elie Wiesel flying a full city block in New York City, all this trash has been integrated into the irrational vocabulary of the American professorial class.
In 1991 I ran the first revisionist essay to appear in a student newspaper at Northwestern University. There, a professional scholar of Holocaust studies responded in print with a vocabulary so irrational that it expressed a deliberate decision to not communicate. Throughout the 1990s, while publishing revisionist texts in student newspaper on hundreds of American colleges and university campuses, no professional scholar addressed any revisionist argument that I made.
In 2000, after a passage of almost a decade, one professional scholar did address the text of one of my ads, Chancellor John Silber of Boston University. In the event, he misquoted me in the most careless way, and entirely ignored the craziness of the testimony of Elie Wiesel.
Now we come to 2006 in this very slow, but certain, unraveling of the orthodox Holocaust story. These following texts will demonstrate that the American professorial class is still committed to a vocabulary of irrationality-that is, a deliberate decision to not communicate-with regard to the Holocaust question.
Once again, we will be at Northwestern University.
On 01 February 2006 the Mehr News Agency reported that, in the wake of the international uproar that arose in response to Iranian President Ahmadinejad's contention that the Holocaust is a "myth," Mehr interviewed Arthur R. Butz, author of The Hoax of the 20th Century.
Briefly, this is what Professor Butz told Mehr:
The alleged slaughter of millions of Jews by the Germans during World War II did not happen.
The extermination allegation is properly termed a hoax, that is to say, a deliberately contrived falsehood.
The hoax had a Zionist provenance and motivation.
Professor Butz noted that in the years since the publication of his book in 1976, there were two developments that he did not foresee:
Western countries undertook a massive repression of revisionism, including imprisonment for thought crimes of those who questioned the story.
That the cognizance of the "Holocaust" in the West had been transformed into what can only be interpreted as religious in nature.
Professor Butz congratulated President Ahmadinejad on becoming the first head of state to speak out clearly on these issues, and regretted only that it was not a Western head of state. He wrote that there could be "no question that I endorse President Ahmadinejad's remarks in those respects."
The Mehr interview with Professor Butz was reported all over the world. I thought, at last. Professor Butz and the President of Iran. A dynamic duo. There would be some, certainly, among the professorial class in America, or at least at Northwestern University, who would take a sober look at Professor Butz and his The Hoax of the 20th Century.
Alas! I am a hopeless romantic.
On 06 February the president of Northwestern University, Henry S. Bienen, issued a statement about the Mehr interview with Professor Butz. President Bienen said nothing about any specific assertion of fact in anything Professor Butz has written, either in the Mehr interview, on his Web site, or in The Hoax of the 20th Century.
President Bienen, making a deliberate decision to not communicate, wrote only that Professor Butz's opinions are "reprehensible," and "a contemptible insult to all decent and feeling people."
On 09 February the Religion Department at Northwestern University published a letter in which it did not address any assertion of fact in anything that Professor Butz has ever written. Rather, the Religion Department charged Professor Butz with "fraud," "lying," "abuse," "hateful speech," "faking data," and "moral and intellectual failure."
On 20 February, sixty-one faculty members of Northwestern University's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science—Professor Butz's own department—published a letter denouncing him. Not one of these professional scholars addressed directly anything Professor Butz has ever written.
His department colleagues wrote that they "utterly disavowed" and "condemned" Professor Butz. They charged that he is an "extreme embarrassment" to his colleagues, that his views are an "affront to their humanity" and beneath their "standards as scholars". They "repudiated" him and urged him "to leave" the Department. These were his own colleagues.
An even more distressing, I want to say an even more disgusting fact, is that while there are some 1,800 professional scholars employed at Northwestern University, not one of them stood up in public to argue that Professor Butz's The Hoax of the 20th Century should be examined before it is condemned, that at least one paper should address his book, after 30 years of condemnation, and should be published in a peer reviewed journal where Professor Butz would have the right to reply.
Not a chance. We're talking about the American professorial class here. It is in a moral crises over this issue and does not have enough character to see it for what it is.
In 2006, after thirty years of scholarly publication by Holocaust revisionists, the Professorial class in America remains where it was with regard to Holocaust revisionist studies. It has deliberately not demonstrated where revisionist scholarship is wrong, in fear of having to address what is left over—that is, where revisionist scholarship is right. It still uses a vocabulary of irrationality to avoid all sober communication with regard to revisionist arguments.
To sum up:
The vocabulary used by the American professorial class with regard to revisionist scholarship is irrational because it deliberately does not respond to the materials it allegedly addresses, and because it deliberately ignores the findings of published revisionist work in order to keep those findings from becoming widely familiar.
Using this irrational vocabulary the American professoriate has contributed to the demonization of the German administration during World War II for having used weapons of mass destruction—"homicidal gas chambers"—to intentionally kill masses of innocent, unarmed civilians, even though the charge cannot be demonstrated to be true.
At the same time, the same professors acknowledge that during that war the American administration intentionally killed masses of innocent, unarmed civilians using weapons of mass destruction—vast air armadas and nuclear bombs—but argues that what the Americans did was for a "greater good." That is, killing masses of the innocent for the deeds of the "guilty" can be morally justified by the demonization of the "other."
* * *
Right conduct is oftentimes a matter of finding a suitable context in which to say the obvious. I believe that this venue, here in Teheran, is one suitable context in which to say the obvious.
I believe it is obvious that in real life there are no demons.
I believe it is obvious that there are no demons in North Korea, no demons in Syria, no demons in Iran, and despite what Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the United Nations General Assembly recently—with a certain comic flair—even in the United States of America there are no demons.
It is obvious that the American professorial class must begin to use the same vocabulary to judge the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans during World War II that it uses to judge the actions of Americans during that war.
I believe it is obvious that the use of an irrational vocabulary by the American professorial class with regard to the Holocaust story has created a moral dilemma for the professors which, out of shame, they are unable to address.
Unable to address the Holocaust story using a rational vocabulary, the professorial class is unable to address the value—to Americans—of the U.S. alliance with Israel.
Two sides of the same coin.
© 18 October 2006
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith|
|Title:||The Irrational Vocabulary of the American Professorial Class with Regard to the Holocaust Question|
|Sources:||Speech delivered at Tehran Holocaust Conference, Dec. 5, 2006|
|First posted on CODOH:||Oct. 16, 2006, 7 p.m.|