The New Zealand Saga Continues
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In issue No. 2/2003 of The Revisionist (pp. 197-202), Dr. Fredrick Töben reported on the case of Joel S.A. Hayward, who in 1993 had completed a master's thesis at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, on revisionist writings about the alleged extermination of European Jews by National Socialist Germany. Because Hayward not only concluded that revisionist writings on this topic are scholarly contributions to historiography that ought to be taken seriously, but also agreed with some revisionist conclusions on the matter itself, various pressure groups demanded that his master's degree be revoked. Although the University of Canterbury did not go that far, the actual actions taken were severe enough to cause opposition by some scholars who felt that academic freedom was at stake.
Two of those scholars are Dr. Thomas A. Fudge and Prof. Dr. Ian Campbell, historians at the University of Canterbury where Hayward had earned his master's and PhD degrees. Campbell, who at that time was also the editor of his university's small history journal History Now, asked Dr. Fudges to write an article on the Hayward affair, which was published in the May issue of that magazine. When the magazine was released, however, the history department withdrew and pulped this issue and sacked Prof. Campbell as the journal's editor. As a reaction to this academic book burning, an uproar went through the academic world on almost a worldwide level. To counter this act of censorship, the New Zealand Herald reprinted Dr. Fudge's article in two installments on the 23rd and 24th of July 2003, albeit without footnotes. Thus, the attempt of the university to prevent Fudge's article to be published in 500 copies – the actual print-run of History Now – resulted in it being published in tens of thousands of copies. Parallel to this act of media solidarity, Dr. Martin Lally, Associate Professor of Finance at Victoria University, Wellington, organized a petition to the University of Canterbury, signed by many scholars from all over the world, which was published on Aug. 26, 2003, in The Dominion Post (Wellington) and The Press (Christchurch, see separate text box). Both dailies later also published brief articles supporting the view that what was going on at the University of Canterbury was censorship unworthy of an academic institution.
As a reaction to Dr. Fudge's and Prof. Campbell's article as well as to Prof. Lally's involvement on behalf of academic freedom and the right to ask critical questions regarding the 'Holocaust', Philip Matthews wrote an article which was published by the New Zealand newspaper Listener on September 20, 2003, under the headline "Canterbury Tales" (pp. 26-29). In it, Matthews asks:
"Is Canterbury University in the business of suppressing academic freedom? Or is this issue really about academic standards?"
This is of course a valid question. But before addressing it, Matthews first reveals that Prof. Dr. Vincent Orange, who was Dr. Hayward's supervisor during his studies, had written in a letter to Canterbury University Chancellor Phyllis Guthardt in April 2001, that Dr. Fudge had expressed "His warm approval of the [Hayward] thesis" and that Dr. Fudge "finds much merit in the work." Both Dr. Fudge and Prof. Campbell had offered support to Prof. Orange and Dr. Hayward while the university was investigating this case in 2000. Matthews juxtaposes these statements with Dr. Fudge's refusal during an interview with him to assess the quality of Hayward's thesis. Matthews then quotes Prof. Dr. Richard Evans, who not only appeared during the infamous Irving vs. Lipstadt trial in 2000 as an expert witness for the defense (Lipstadt and Penguin books), but who also wrote an expert report on the Hayward thesis during the same year. In Evans' eyes, Hayward's thesis is "a thoroughly tendentious, biased and dishonest piece of work." Evans recommended that Canterbury University strip Hayward of his master's degree. In a more recent comment, Evans is quoted by Matthews that this is not about academic freedom, but:
"It is rather the upholding of academic standards. Nobody has stopped Hayward or Fudge from publishing what they have written."
Reasons given for the withdrawal of Dr. Fudge's article were not only that the history department disagreed with it, but also that Dr. Fudge allegedly misused personal and interdepartmental communications and breached an informal agreement to stop discussing the Hayward affair in public. Considering the severity of the intrusion into Dr. Hayward's academic freedom, it does not appear to be all that important to find out whether or not these claims are true. It is, however, quite comical that an act of censorship is justified with the fact that the victim of censorship had ignored an earlier "agreement" of censorship.
In his article, Matthews does not properly address the questions he himself posed at the very beginning of his article. All he has to say about it is that Prof. Evans, a real expert in Matthews' eyes, made the above quoted statement, which Matthews accepts uncritically. I wonder if Matthews has read Prof. Evans' expert report and if he has any idea what "academic standards" are in the first place. Let us examine this question.
First of all, Matthews should have noticed that no thesis could ever be "dishonest". If Prof. Dr. Evens really said this, it shows some problems he has with expressing himself. Whereas a thesis cannot be dishonest, a scholar writing it can very well be dishonest, but such dishonesty cannot be proven by examining a thesis (except for an admission of dishonesty being found in it, which is not very likely to occur). Thus, Prof. Dr. Evans, who has never met Dr. Hayward personally, cannot possibly know whether Dr. Hayward is dishonest or not. It therefore cannot surprise that Canterbury University did not follow Dr. Evans' conclusion in this regard. What can be stated here, however, is that making such ad hominem attacks on other scholars without knowing them is very much an indication of lack of academic standards!
Next comes the question whether or not Hayward's thesis is tendentious and/or biased. Since Hayward takes revisionist arguments seriously and endorses some of them, it can come as no surprise that Dr. Evans, who is one of the most ardent declared adversaries of all revisionist viewpoints, labels such an attitude as tendentious and biased. However, isn't an attitude that rejects opposing viewpoints out of hand, attacks their supporters as dishonest, and asks for the destruction of their livelihood (by withdrawing their academic degrees) by itself an indication of tendentiousness and bias?
The question could be easily answered if we could come to a conclusion that revisionist arguments are factually correct or at least scholarly valid. Since I am a revisionist myself, it can be argued that I am biased in this regard, so I won't argue along this line, as the other side would not accept it, and I have no intention to convince those who are already convinced. I therefore would like to concentrate on formal issues.
First, let me try to summarize what academic standards for any scholarly work are, to which Prof. Evans refers:
- Systematic organization.
- Clear separation between facts and opinions.
- Factual claims are backed up with any or all of the following:
- sources proving the facts, quoted in a way that the source can be found by others;
- experiments described in a way that they can be repeated by others;
- logical reasoning/deduction which can be followed by others.
- Opposing arguments taken into consideration to the extent they were accessible at that time.
- Depending on the faculty involved, the observance of certain faculty-specific evidentiary or methodic rules (if they are not themselves the subject of scrutiny).
Prof. Evans' accusations against Dr. Hayward concentrate primarily on the claim that Dr. Hayward did not take opposing arguments into consideration or at least did not give them the consideration they deserved. This is what Prof. Evans calls bias and tendentiousness. In his 1999/2000 apologies, Dr. Hayward recognized that he learned about opposing arguments after he had finished his thesis in 1993, and that he now, with his knowledge of the late 1990s, would write and conclude his thesis differently. In my correspondence with Dr. Hayward starting in 1998, I told him that certain parts of his thesis were built on weak arguments and would attract partly justified criticism. This is primarily true for his relying on the accuracy of the so-called Leuchter-Report, which was both a groundbreaking work but also a work with many deficiencies. There is no doubt that Dr. Hayward got carried away by revisionist enthusiasm in the wake of the Leuchter-Report, which might have made him a little careless by adopting revisionist viewpoints too eagerly. Though this may be bias, it is still within the normal and acceptable range of what can happen to all of us.
One also has to take into consideration that Hayward was a mere student in a master thesis program doing his work at the other end of the world. With his limited budget and the huge distances involved to access source material, it was not easy for him to collect all the information he needed, and his own supervisor was not an expert in this field either. This is why Dr. Hayward emphasized the fact that he had no funds available during his research, whereas Dr. Evans is equipped with a generous salary and is also well paid for the expert reports he writes. For instance, Dr. Evans received ca. $100,000 for his expert report in the Irving trial alone. With such payments, it is of course easy to do a much better job, and it is cheap to criticize others who are pauper students down under (as does Mr. Matthews). It may therefore be stated that Evans' expectations as to the completeness of Hayward's survey of opposing arguments is a bit unrealistic.
But let us push this a little further. In all of his writings, Prof. Evans considers the thesis that the 'Holocaust' did not happen (whatever this implies) to be evidence for bias by itself. For him, the documentation proving the factuality of the 'Holocaust' is irrefutable. When so doing, does he stick to his own rules, that is, does he take opposing viewpoints into consideration? I am not talking here about David Irving's writing, as David Irving has never been a Holocaust revisionist as such. He has never written a single article, not to mention an entire monograph, on this topic. He might have made remarks during some of his speeches, but it is an undeniable fact that he is not a scholar in this field. The question is: do we find references to the finest revisionist scholars and their works as well as refutations of their arguments in Evans' writings? Let us take only one example: is the name Carlo Mattogno mentioned in Evans' expert reports? As a matter of fact, in his report on Irving, Mattogno's name appears on page 182, footnote 173, and on page 189, footnote 293. But not as a reference to arguments put forward by Mattogno, but only as a means to prove that already with the headlines of their articles revisionists prove that they "deny the Holocaust" (as if that would be denied by anybody). In other words: Evans doesn't care at all to even address revisionist arguments. It suffices for him to prove that revisionists "deny" to make his point about the alleged morally inferiority of revisionists.
Maybe Prof. Evans did not know about any other writings by Carlo Mattogno (most of which were in Italian at that time), but considering his vast resources and knowledge of the "denial movement," that is not an excuse that could be accepted. That is the difference between the poor student Hayward down under and the abundantly equipped expert in London. Thus, it is not Hayward whose potential bias is unacceptable, it is Prof. Evans' ignorance that indicates massive bias to a point of intentional omission.
Next comes the question about the nature of science and its role in human society. The reader will agree with me that scientific knowledge is not a static thing but that it is permanently evolving, mostly toward more accuracy and completeness. As trivial as this may sound, this simple truth was forgotten in Hayward's case. What happened to Hayward is that his thesis, mainly written in 1992, was measured with the knowledge of the years 1999/2000, a point in time when both revisionists and their adversaries had made tremendous progress (and had, for instance, both stepped far beyond the Leuchter-Report). If such a retrospective method of evaluating the quality of a thesis were to be applied in general, the result would unavoidably be that every thesis ever written would be found wanting. This is simply an unfair and profoundly flawed method.
The reader will hopefully also agree that scholars aren't angels either. They all are influenced by their social environment, which unavoidably leads to certain biases. To a certain degree, we all are products of our environment. The bias resulting from it is not intentional, and as such it is acceptable. As long as we are aware of this fact and as long as we can assess the social influence a scholar was and is exposed to, this should not be an issue. A bias is often followed and/or caused by an agenda. Reading Evans' writings, for example, easily exposes his agenda as a crusader against "deniers." Evans perceives them as evil persons, and he tries everything to prove this (and so does Deborah Lipstadt, who called Prof. Evans to her defense). His agenda is that of a professional character assassin, a man who focuses on ad hominem attacks against scholars with viewpoints he considers as morally reprehensible. Prof. Evans might not have noticed it, but he will sooner or later find out that the veracity of factual claims are independent of the moral standing of the person making such claims. It is only the investigation of the claim itself that can solve the points at issue, not any alleged revelation of the claimer's character or political opinions. This is also the reason why I will not descend to Prof. Evans' level by trying to dig out some ideological dirt he or any of his supporters are possibly involved in. It does not solve any historical issue and is a waste of time and resources.
I am far from saying that having an agenda is necessarily a bad thing. Quite to the contrary. As long as such an agenda does not interfere with academic standards, this is perfectly legitimate. After all, every scholar needs a motivation to do the sometimes exhausting research on his topic, and the mere love for accuracy is only one of the motivations that are usually involved. Honor and pride as well as materialistic hopes are very often involved, too, and as soon as we turn to the humanities, ideological agendas unavoidably play a major role for almost all parties involved in a controversy, whether they are aware of it or not.
It is quite funny to see how Dr. Evans and his friends try to find an anti-Semite and neo-Nazi behind everybody involved or somehow associated with revisionism, while at the same time they accuse revisionists and their defenders as "paranoid" when those people, in turn, see left-wing radical and/or Jewish/Zionist motivations behind their adversaries' and oppressors' actions. The fact is that both sides have developed a mirror-symmetrical paranoia in suspecting the other side of inverted agendas.
As deplorable as the emotions and the resulting bias are that often result from such ideologically overheated topics as the 'Holocaust,' this has nevertheless an advantage, and that is the tenacity with which all sides try to prove their point. There is no other single topic in historiography where so much research has been done and is still ongoing. No single village in mankind history has ever attracted so much scholarly attention as Auschwitz. Whether Prof. Evans likes it or not, without the revisionists permanently pushing for answers to uncomfortable questions, the progress done over the last three decades would have been impossible – despite the fact that Prof. Evans and his friends try to suppress such revisionist inquiry and any news about it. Neither Prof. Evans' work would exist nor that of Deborah Lipstadt, Jean-Claude Pressac, Michael Shermer, Wolfgang Benz, or Jan van Pelt, to name only a few. These works with all their insight (or lack of it) as well as their biases are the result of revisionist publications.
It may therefore be summarized that an agenda, always coming with a certain bias, is the main driving force behind 'Holocaust' research. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we do not try to persecute each other for our dissenting views. And it sure isn't decided yet which side of this scholarly struggle is more tendentious. However, looking at the way establishment authors are still ignoring (and trying to suppress) the finest of revisionist works indicates that they are still limping behind.
In a reaction to Matthews' article, The Listener published several letters to the editor the following week, of which the one by Dr. Tom Ryan from the Anthropology Department of the University of Waikato (Hamilton, NZ) is arguably the most controversial. Dr. Ryan basically supports Matthews' view and adds that it is morally reprehensible to support Dr. Hayward or Dr. Fudge, as this amounts to indirect support to "the international Holocaust denial movement." He also makes demands to "stop representing Hayward as an innocent martyr caught up in some great Jewish conspiracy."
First, it must be emphasized that there is no attitude more hostile to academic standards than the one asking for censorship of certain views or facts because it allegedly helps some perceived political enemy. This is Stalinist-like totalitarianism. Dr. Ryan exposes here his own lack of any scientific or scholarly standards. As such, it is not Dr. Hayward and Dr. Fudge, but rather the unfathomable clown-like behavior of Dr. Ryan and his ilk that helps revisionism tremendously in discrediting and unmasking those scholars as the hypocrites they really are.
Next, if Hayward is not innocent, as Dr. Ryan implies, where is the proof for his guilt? All one can say is that he didn't know better when he wrote his thesis. But that is true for all scholars at the time they write their papers. We all are prone to err. If this is guilt deserving punishment, I am sure Dr. Ryan should start with himself, whipping himself every morning in front of his mirror, before pointing at others.
The ball is now back in the court of those 'established' historians, and it is up to them to try to get it back to us revisionists. And we revisionists will sure keep the heat on to make them move!
With this in mind, we dare to publish Dr. Fudge's defense of Dr. Hayward's academic freedom, because it is a defense of everyone's academic freedom, and we see it as our duty to defend the most fundamental human right to doubt and question. This academic freedom mandates that any kind of initial thesis may be chosen for a scholarly work – even that the 'Holocaust' did not happen – and that no power other then evidence may ever be allowed to force us to come to certain conclusions. And when the evidence suggest that there was no 'Holocaust', so be it. The earth will still be revolving around the sun.
Prof. Evans and with him Mr. Matthews, on the other side, suggest that such a thesis should not be allowed in academia. While it is true that, after Joel Hayward and Dr. Fudge had written what they wrote, nobody prevented them from publishing it, this is not the main point. The message sent out by Canterbury University is a different one: Should any scholar ever dare to come up with conclusions which some authorities – university or government – emphatically disagree with, he is in danger of losing (or never gaining) his reputation and his academic degree. And once it has been accepted that suppressing revisionist views on an academic level is admissible, the door is open for the government to introduce suppressing measures on a general level as well. Where this leads to at the end can be seen in Europe, where people with dissenting views on the Holocaust go to jail with no right to defend themselves.
What the actions of Canterbury University boil down to is punishment of scholars for coming to unwanted conclusions. If such an attitude prevails, this would be the death of science. And even more: If we are forbidden to doubt and question, then we are denied our most profound human dignity, for the only thing that separates us from the animal world is that we do not have to take our sensory impressions for granted, but can doubt and question them. As such, revisionism is the most human activity of all. To outlaw or ostracize revisionism is equivalent to outlawing or ostracizing humanity.
|||"Academic Freedom must apply to all," The Dominion Post, Sept. 4, 2003; "History Lessons," The Press, Sept. 3, 2003.|
|||"Expert Report by Professor Richard Evans", Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, David John Cawdell Irving vs. (1) Penguin Books Limited, (2) Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ref. 1996 I. No. 113. Evans refers to Mattogno's article "The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews", The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 8 (1988), pp. 133-72 and 261-302, simply because of the word "myth" in the title.|
|||For this, see my contribution "Discovering Absurdistan", The Revisionist, 1(2) (2003), pp. 203-219.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||The New Zealand Saga Continues|
|Sources:||The Revisionist 1(4) (2003), pp. 435-439|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 27, 2012, 7 p.m.|