Time For A More Relaxed Attitude About Holocaust Revisionism
The front page article in the Los Angeles Times for January 7, 2000, covered many of the general points of Holocaust revisionism clearly and fairly. On the other hand, there were a few points in the article that demand a response, and above all the claim that Holocaust revisionists are out to prove that "the Holocaust never happened."
The article provides a very balanced portrayal of the kinds of things that happen to people who find themselves on the wrong side of the standard Holocaust story. The story about Germar Rudolf's persecution is true, and it follows a pattern that one can find with many others revisionists.
If the problem of Holocaust revisionism could be summed up in one word, that word would be "reaction." Over the past twenty five years or so, there have been a number of individuals who have put out arguments saying that this or that fact about the Holocaust is inaccurate, exaggerated, or just plain wrong. But the responses to these arguments have never been measured, relaxed, or reasonable. Instead, the responses have been characterized by an extreme emotional over-reaction, running the gamut from character assassination, criminalization, and libel, to job firings, car and fire bombings, and beatings.
Such emotional reactions have to make you think: "Where there's smoke, there's fire." The extreme opposition to revisionists, along with a refusal to countenance any of their arguments, was the core psychological problem that led Bradley Smith to found "The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust", the purpose of which is simply to ventilate the issues concerning Holocaust revisionism in order to break the endless cycle of destructive and emotional reactions.
In this respect it is interesting that the article cites many revisions that have been made concerning the Holocaust; pointing out that things like the human soap and lampshade stories, the four million death toll for Auschwitz claim, and even the overall total of six million, have been changed over the years. What the author doesn't point out is that, while some of these revisions did not start with revisionists, their acceptance in the public mind is almost certainly due to the efforts of Holocaust revisionists.
In other words, Holocaust revisionists are trying to revise our understanding of what did or did not happen during the Holocaust, and they have been successful in this respect over the past two decades and they will probably continue to be successful in the future. Yet the result of Holocaust revisionism has not been another Hitler, a new Nazi Party, or another period of persecution and massacre for the Jewish people, called "Holocaust" or anything else. The only result of Holocaust revisionism is that it has brought us closer to the historical truth.
So then the next question should be: what is there to fear from revisionists? The correct answer should be: nothing. Yet on this point, the author quotes Deborah Lipstadt, who argues that Holocaust revisionists have a "definite political agenda", that they are attempting to make National Socialism respectable again, and that you can "almost hear them saying" that the Jewish people deserved the Holocaust.
We are not going to pretend that we have any special insights concerning the voices whose chronic whispering seems to bedevil Ms. Lipstadt, but it should be obvious that her characterization of revisionists is a broad gauge general slur not supported by any specific evidence. Sure, there are some revisionists who hate Jews and apologize for Nazism. On the other hand, there are many more revisionists who do not (including a number with Jewish families). It is also frankly amazing that Lipstadt, a professor with some claims to intellect, should choose to descend so quickly into the gutter of vulgar and crude rhetoric.
To discuss sensitive issues in public, you need a little restraint, you don't need to call the cops. The entire issue of Holocaust revisionism is not about "whether it happened" but about "what happened" and "why", and the challenge is for all of us to act like adults. Unfortunately, the problem is made much larger than it should be by the hysterical speechifying of people like Lipstadt, whose maximalist paranoia has had a lot to do with making revisionism a crime in many European countries, and in creating reactionary government policies that have brought absurd levels of repression and harassment down on the likes of Germar Rudolf, David Irving, Frederick Töben, and many, many others. It's time to just relax about Holocaust revisionism: take a deep breath, relax, and start talking.
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|Title:||Time For A More Relaxed Attitude About Holocaust Revisionism|
|First posted on CODOH:||Nov. 4, 2000, 6 p.m.|
|Comments:||Remarks on Kim Murphy, "Danger in Denying the Holocaust?" Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2000|