News !! THE CAMPAIGN TO DECRIMINALIZE HOLOCAUST HISTORY

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News !! THE CAMPAIGN TO DECRIMINALIZE HOLOCAUST HISTORY

Postby Hannover » 1 decade 6 years ago (Sat Jan 31, 2004 6:53 pm)

A new, promising campaign by Bradley Smith in conjunction with others has been launched.
The website is still under construction but have a look here:
http://www.outlawhistory.com
excerpt:
The Campaign to Decriminalize Holocaust History is fighting to overturn the laws that criminalize historical research into the Holocaust and World War II, and to obtain freedom for anyone who has been imprisoned under those laws. We also seek to prevent similar laws from being passed in the United States. We feel that an organization such as ours is necessary because other, more traditional “free speech” organizations have steadfastly refused to protest the prosecution and imprisonment of revisionist historians. In the face of this silence, we feel that a new, focused effort is needed to fight the criminalization of Holocaust and World War II history.

Full text, a bit lengthy, pardon my indulgence:

THE CAMPAIGN TO DECRIMINALIZE
HOLOCAUST HISTORY
“No one should be imprisoned for writing a book.”

Throughout the Western world, people are being prosecuted for writing about World War II and the Holocaust. Historians, researchers, authors, and publishers are being fined, imprisoned, placed under gag orders, expelled from their native countries, and denied entry into others. Those who are prosecuted are routinely prevented from mounting an effective defense, because witnesses who testify on their behalf often find themselves arrested. In some cases, even the defense lawyers are prosecuted!

Countries that have laws that limit the scope and substance of World War II and Holocaust research include France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Spain 1. These laws make it a crime for anyone, regardless of their credentials or the factual basis of their views, to question or revise any aspect of the history of World War II or the Holocaust in a manner that goes beyond the somewhat arbitrary standards established by the governments of those countries 2.

Although there are no laws in the United States that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history, some of our nation’s most prestigious legal minds have backed a proposed law intended to do just that.
Why should you, why should any of us, be concerned that certain areas of historical research have been criminalized?

FREE SPEECH

Free speech is very much on the minds of young people today. Many who oppose the Bush Administration’s actions since 9/11 claim that there is now an oppressive “chill” on free speech in America. Is this “chill” something new? Or has an ill wind that’s been blowing for quite some time finally caught up with people who never expected to feel it?

Most people on our college campuses today grew up during the Clinton years. Clinton appealed to young people and reflected many of their values. These days, however, the same people who grew up feeling empowered during the Clinton years are now feeling like dissidents, as they protest post-9/11 U.S. policies of an administration that many see as hostile to civil liberties, and a news media dominated by conservative talk radio shows, and networks like Fox.

Suddenly, a lot of people who used to feel empowered are now feeling marginalized.

The problem is, many of those who are complaining the loudest right now about the “chill” on free speech are the very people who laid the groundwork for speech restrictions and muted public debate. This includes the college professors and administrators who, throughout the 1990s, championed campus “speech codes” that restricted the expression of views they deemed “insensitive.”

No subject has been more vilified on college campuses over the past decade than historical research that questions various aspects of Holocaust history. Throughout the 1990s, as dissident Holocaust historians (often called “revisionists”) were being prosecuted and imprisoned in Europe, Canada, and Australia, college campuses throughout the United States were practicing their own brand of censorship. Revisionist speakers were banned from campuses. Regardless of the factual basis for their views, they were derided as insensitive “hate-mongers.” Ads for revisionist books or videos were banned from school newspapers. If, occasionally, a revisionist ad or op-ed was published in a campus paper, the resulting outcry from students and faculty alike brought waves of condemnation and apologies from administrators and newspaper staff 3.

Many of the people who express outrage at the “silencing” of today’s war critics are the same people who championed the silencing of dissident Holocaust historians in the 1990s—just as many of those who are screaming the loudest about the evils of the Patriot Act are the same folks who supported the Clinton administration’s Omnibus Antiterrorism Bill of 1995 4. But just as you can’t understand the Patriot Act without understanding the way in which the Clinton Omnibus Antiterrorism Bill paved the way for it, you can’t really understand the post-9/11 free speech “chill” without understanding the way in which the rationalizations for silencing dissent (especially on campus) were developed during the past decade in the campaign to silence revisionist historians.

Take this op-ed from the Cornell University Daily Sun, November 22, 1991. The author, Doreen Lee, explains why there should be no free speech allowed for Holocaust revisionists: “Some issues are not meant to be challenged, provoked, or critically debated. True, political correctness can limit the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is a great and fundamental right, but it’s also a political construct that should be ultimately subject to the limits of humanity, sensitivity, and respect 5.”

Sound familiar? Ms. Lee might as well be a Bush Administration official warning protesters not to “challenge, provoke, or critically debate” U.S. policy during times of war. After all, we must show “sensitivity” and “respect” to the victims of terrorism, and to people in the military and their families. Ms. Lee’s op-ed is one of thousands of similar op-eds and editorials that appeared in college (and off-campus) newspapers throughout the ‘90s, arguing that dissident Holocaust historians have no right to speak. Those who allowed this cancer of censorship to grow and flourish during the past decade should not be surprised to now find themselves the victims of it.

Those who protest the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” policies want the right to freely voice their opinions, without being censored or dismissed as “unpatriotic,” or “pro-terrorist.” However, to paraphrase The Beatles, … in the end, the free speech you get is equal to the free speech you give.

Once you start censoring and slandering others who are trying to have their say, you’ve created exactly the kind of “chilled” atmosphere that will, inevitably, end up affecting your right to speak as well.

A s simple as this notion is, it’s amazing how many people just don’t seem to get it. Take Robert Berdahl, Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley. Back in 1993, When Berdahl was President of the University of Texas at Austin, he led the charge to ban revisionist Holocaust views from campus. When The Daily Texan, the UT Austin campus newspaper, accepted an advertisement for a documentary film in which the Director of the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland admitted that the building displayed in the camp as a “gas chamber” is not genuine, Berdahl angrily argued in an op-ed that revisionist Holocaust views are “patently unsuitable” for the paper.

Even though the ad said nothing about Jews or any other racial or religious group, and even though the ad’s author made it clear that he was not denying the Holocaust, Berdahl maintained that the ad had no place on campus because the university newspaper is “obligated to protect its readers” from anything that might be “a source of great pain and anguish,” or anything that “insults a community’s standards of decency 6.”

Fast forward seven years, to the UC Berkeley class of 2000 Commencement ceremony. Berdahl (now Chancellor of Berkeley) be-came furious when a group of students angrily protested the convocation address given by Berkeley senior Fadia Rafeedia, a Palestinian who, at that time, was an editor for a website called the Free Arab Voice, a site that not only claims that the Holocaust is a “Jewish lie,” but also advocates the outright murder of Jews. Berdahl denounced the protesters, calling Ms. Rafeedie “insightful,” and claiming that “her strong will and strong opinions make her….the essence, the spirit, and the promise of this institution 7.”

Even more recently, in March 2003, Berdahl, appearing on a Berkeley radio show, decried those who would silence campus antiwar protesters, worrying that “a climate of fear” might create “a lack of dissent 8.”

What Chancellor Berdahl doesn’t seem able or willing to acknowledge is that he bears some responsibility for creating the very climate he is now denouncing. In advocating the banning of dissident Holocaust history, he made it clear that, in his view, universities are obligated to “protect” students from unpleasant or offensive views. Why should it now surprise him when students who find other things offensive – like the Free Arab Voice website – use the same rationalizations to try and ban what they find to be “a source of great pain and anguish?”

In 1993, when Chancellor Berdahl argued in favor of banning revisionist Holocaust history from the campus paper, at least one local commentator saw the potential ramifications of his views. Dallas Morning News columnist Joe Patrick Bean predicted that Berdahl’s actions “may have set a potentially harmful precedent that will limit discussion of legitimate but highly controversial or sensitive views 9.”

In fact, a plan that would indeed “limit discussion of highly controversial or sensitive views” in the name of keeping the American public safe from dissident World War II and Holocaust history had already been cooked up only five years earlier at one of America’s most prestigious universities.

In April 1988, Hofstra University in New York sponsored a three-day conference, at which dozens of the most prestigious and re-spected legal minds from the worlds of academia, government, and the justice system gathered with one goal – to find a way to copy the laws by which Canada and Europe have criminalized Holocaust and World War II history. A nationwide contest was held, in which law students were asked to draft a model law that would limit the free speech of Americans in a way that might not be ruled unconstitutional 10.

As outlined by conference director Monroe H. Freedman, Professor of Legal Ethics at Hofstra, and Executive Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (which oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.), the winning law would have to be “a statute that would permit prior restraint (of speech) by public officials.” First prize would go to the law that was “as broad as constitutionally permissible, or, at least, arguably permissible 11.”

The speakers at the closed-door conference made no attempt to hide their hostility to free speech. A professor from the University of Western Ontario expressed displeasure with “the absolutist approach that characterizes American thinking about freedom of speech.” The solution, he said, was to abandon “abstract notions of individualism 12.” A professor from the University of Baltimore argued that the U.S. needs to restrict “fervently held beliefs and political thoughts, none of which,” he added, “the First Amendment was ever intended to protect 13.”

At the end of the conference, the participants chose what they considered to be the best anti-free speech law, and two runners-up, from among the hundreds of entries submitted by law students from across the country. The judges who chose the winners included Abner Mikva, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, and Amalya Kearse, of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The conference attendees agreed that the law would have to be kept under wraps until a time when the Supreme Court consists of a majority of justices who are sympathetic to its aims 14. The conference concluded with a mock trial in which a Holocaust revisionist was convicted and sentenced to prison under the proposed law 15.

So what does the Hofstra Law say? The Hofstra Law would criminalize “any oral, written, or symbolic speech” that “debases, de-grades, or calls into question the loyalties, abilities, or integrity of members of an aggregation of people identified by a common race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference.” The law also states that “An agency shall be established that will review all films and movies,” as well as all published or broadcast speech. Anyone who publishes or broadcasts any type of material before it has been submitted to, and reviewed by, this agency, “shall have committed a misdemeanor.”

While this law might sound tantalizing to those who crusade against “hate speech” and other forms of bigotry, the devil, as they say, is in the details. In order for this law to pass muster with the Supreme Court, the law states that “all speech that defames a group will be equally restricted, regardless of the group that is being defamed.” In other words, this law does not just protect minorities or groups with a history of being oppressed. Under the definitions established by this law, “Americans” count as a protected group, as do “white people.” Recently, the man who authored the runner-up Hofstra Law admitted in an interview that under the provisions of his law, a group like the Ku Klux Klan could successfully take legal action against author and filmmaker Michael Moore for comments he made in his book, Stupid White Men! 16

The Hofstra Law was endorsed by some of America’s most respected legal minds, who expressed their desire to one day see it enacted into law. The participants in the Hofstra conference celebrated their proposed law’s ability to criminalize dissident Holocaust and World War II history, and this is most likely how the law would be sold to the public 17. But the truth is, the Hofstra Law would outlaw a whole lot more than dissident history. By its very wording, it would leave no controversial point of view safe from prosecution.

Indeed, the threat posed by the Hofstra Law is the embodiment of the notion that it’s either free speech for all, or free speech for none.

THE VALUE OF DISSIDENT HISTORY

Of course, it’s possible to agree that revisionist Holocaust and World War II historians should not be censored or imprisoned, while still dismissing their views as irrelevant or unimportant. After all, why should anyone care what revisionist historians have to say about an event that took place over a half-century ago? The answer to that question probably helps to explain why so many people want to suppress or outlaw this kind of research.

World War II and the Holocaust have taken on an iconic status that people of all political creeds and ideologies exploit for their own benefit. The repressive laws against Holocaust and World War II research target historians whose work challenges the myths and misconceptions surrounding these events, myths that have the ability, even today, to influence political events. The war in Iraq is a case in point. Both the pro-war right and the anti-war left exploit these myths in order to justify their positions.

Both sides in the Iraq war debate make use of the perception that World War II was a “necessary” and “good” war, in which the Allies acted ethically and with a supreme concern for human life, a war in which our government didn’t lie or manipulate public opinion in order to create popular support for the war, a war in which there was clear evidence of crimes against humanity being committed by our ene-mies, and a war that concluded with even-handed and compassionate justice meted out to our vanquished foes.

The pro-war right uses these myths in order to lull the public into thinking that there can actually be such a thing as a good, clean, “painless” war. “Iraq will be a ‘good’ war, like WWII. There will be no unnecessary deaths, no phony war propaganda. After the war we’ll easily create a democracy in Iraq, just as we did in Germany, using kindness and positive reinforcement. And you can trust our President’s reasons for going to war. Our government would never knowingly use false information to entice Americans into supporting a war.” Many Americans backed the war in Iraq because they believed that there was historical precedent for the right’s fanciful vision of how the Iraq war would be fought and won.

The anti-war left also uses the mythical model of World War II in order to create a phony standard of what constitutes a “good” war. A “good” war, like WWII, is one in which no enemy civilians are intentionally targeted or needlessly killed, no phony propaganda is used to justify the war, and vanquished foes are treated in a fair and decent manner. During the Afghan war, once Afghani civilians started dying in U.S. air raids, the left declared that it was no longer a “good” war -- like WWII. Many Americans have protested the treatment of captured Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners on the grounds that these prisoners deserved a fair and constitutionally-sound hearing, “just like at Nuremberg.” Since no real war can ever measure up to the phony standard of a “good war” generated by the mythical version of World War II, the left can conveniently oppose any and all military operations on the grounds that they are not “good wars” like World War II was.

Over the years, dissident historians have accumulated an impressive array of facts that challenge the myths of World War II. Documents and testimonies have been found that show that the Allies purposely targeted German civilians during air attacks 18, that the Allies were ready and willing to use poison gas against Germany and Japan 19, that England and France were as responsible as Germany for the initiation of the war 20, that the post-war period between the end of hostilities in Europe in 1945 and the initiation of the progressive Marshall Plan in 1947 were marked by the organized murder, rape, and starvation of German civilians 21, and that the post-war trials of captured Germans were tainted by phony evidence and the systematic torture of the defendants 22.

In a bid to silence war-dissenters, President Roosevelt imprisoned American antiwar authors and activists 23 (ironically, many of the books written by these imprisoned authors in the 1940s are now banned again under the current laws that criminalize World War II and Holocaust history 24). In England, Prime Minister Churchill had antiwar authors, activists, and even members of Parliament, imprisoned in a concentration camp on a British island 25.

There are volumes of evidence suggesting that the Allies engaged in a massive disinformation campaign after the war in order to convince the public that the war, and its mind-numbing body count of 50,000,000 people, had been necessary and worthwhile. After all, the initial reason for the war – to keep Poland free – was no longer usable after Roosevelt “gave” Poland to Stalin at the close of the war. Therefore, finding and publicizing evidence of Nazi crimes against humanity became necessary in order to create a new justification for the war (ironically, most mainstream historians now believe that Hitler came up with the idea of murdering the Jews sometime in the summer or autumn of 1941, two years after the war began, making World War II a war with an ex post facto reason for being 26).

There is no doubt that the Nazis committed many inexcusable crimes during the war, but the question facing modern historians is this: did the Allies, in their postwar haste to find evidence of Nazi “crimes against humanity,” take major liberties with the truth? Even the most respected figures in Holocaust history have admitted the vast extent of the postwar disinformation campaign conducted by the Allied governments. The Director of the Auschwitz State Museum admitted in a 1992 documentary that the building displayed at the camp as a “gas chamber” is actually a postwar fabrication created by the Soviets and Poles 27. Similar admissions have been made about the gas chamber on display at Dachau, which was apparently created by the U.S. Army after the war for propaganda purposes 28. The Dachau Museum in Munich admits that the claims made by the U.S. Army about people being gassed at Dachau were false 29.

Officials of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, admit that the Soviet Union went to great extremes in order create false war crimes evidence, even to the extent of staging phony footage of “Nazis” gassing children. According to the Director of the Department of Film and Video at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, Soviet soldiers wearing German uniforms posed as Nazis, and pretended to gas children while the cameras rolled. This phony “gassing” film was created for use against the Germans at the Nuremberg Trial 30.

Raul Hilberg, perhaps the most respected Holocaust author in the world, admitted that the Nazi commandant of the Auschwitz con-centration camp had been tortured by the British into signing a confession that was totally false 31. Yehuda Bauer, Chair of Holocaust Studies at Hebrew University, disclosed in 1989 that, after the war, Polish Communists and nationalists, “for political purposes,” grossly inflated the number of dead at Auschwitz, yet “sheer repetition led many Jews to accept the numbers. It’s the historian’s task to examine myths,” Bauer said, “and, if necessary, explode them 32.”

Konrad Heiden, a refugee from Nazi Germany and perhaps the most important anti-Nazi author of the war years, published a detailed article in Life magazine immediately after the war, providing step-by-step details of how the Nuremberg defendants were being tortured by the Allies into confessing, and contrasting the Soviet methods of torture (psychological) with the U.S. methods (physical brutality) 33.

The Campaign to Decriminalize Holocaust History has collected over 100 quotes from the world’s most respected mainstream Holocaust historians attesting to just how little is actually known about the central features of the Holocaust (the gas chambers, the number of Jews killed, and the existence of a genocide plan 34).

In fact, it wasn’t until 1989 that anyone even attempted to scientifically prove the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz -- in a book titled Auschwitz; Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, published by the world-renowned Holocaust education or-ganization, the Klarsfeld Foundation. Before publication, the book was hailed in The New York Times as a major breakthrough in Holocaust history 35. Unfortunately, the book’s author, Jean-Claude Pressac, concluded that there is “an absence of any ‘direct,’ i.e. palpable, indisputable, and evident proof of homicidal gas chambers” at Auschwitz 36. The book was immediately withdrawn from circulation.

In light of the paucity of reliable evidence for certain aspects of Holocaust history, some of our nation’s leading Holocaust institutions have turned to using less-than-credible evidence. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum displays a cast of the door to a “gas chamber” from the Majdanek camp in Poland. The problem is, Jean-Claude Pressac (see above) wrote in his book that this room at Majdanek was simply a chamber for delousing clothes 37.

Furthermore, Dr. Michael Shermer, who has penned several books aimed at countering the claims of revisionist Holocaust historians, has said that he agrees with revisionists that this room was not a gas chamber used for killing people 38. Amazingly, when Shermer questioned Michael Berenbaum, Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum 39, about the authenticity of the Majdanek “gas chamber” door, Berenbaum replied that he had never actually examined the door, even though it’s a central exhibit in his own mu-seum 40! (According to Shermer, both Berenbaum and world-renowned Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg are "remarkably ignorant" of the "anomalous data" that might prove revisionists right 41)

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles offers its visitors “documentary footage” of the Nazis gassing children in a “gas van” that the Nazis had deceitfully disguised as an ambulance. In reality, this footage is actually a scene from a 1961 Polish black-and-white fictional film, The Ambulance, directed by Janusz Morgenstern. The Wiesenthal Center has removed the opening and closing credits from the movie, exhibiting the altered film as authentic “documentary” footage 42.

And in 1993, in honor of the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. National Archives re-edited a piece of 1945 U.S. Army Signal Corps footage of a Paris rifle range, removing the soundtrack and changing the description in the National Archives catalog from “Parisian firing range” to “Nazi gas chamber.” This altered footage is prominently featured in a guide to National Archives “Holocaust footage” that is sold in the Holocaust Museum gift shop 43.

(A warning to the reader: being in possession of the information contained in the preceding nine paragraphs could well get you arrested or expelled from most European countries and Canada – so be careful where you take this information!)

The laws that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history have the net effect of providing legal cover for the myths that are ex-ploited by people of all political persuasions and ideologies during times of war and national crisis. By suppressing research that ques-tions these myths, we deprive ourselves of the information we need in order to ask our leaders, and ourselves, the kinds of hard ques-tions that are particularly relevant right now:

Can there be such a thing as a “good” war? Can a “preemptive” war ever be necessary? If it was right to declare war against one brutal dictator (Hitler) before he committed the crimes that would later be used as the very reason for that war, is it right to preemptively strike other brutal dictators before they become greater menaces?

Can a war, and can a postwar occupation, be conducted successfully without resorting to brutality? Is brutality ever warranted? If it was justifiable to torture captured Nazis after the war in order to obtain evidence of Nazi war crimes, is it okay to use torture to gain information from captured Al Qaeda fighters? If it was acceptable to try Nazis in front of military tribunals in which they had limited rights of defense, and in which false evidence was used to convict, is it okay to do the same to Muslim extremists -- who have, after all, murdered more U.S. civilian than the Nazis did?

Is it ever permissible for our government to use deception in order popularize a war? If it turns out that some of the war-crimes accu-sations made against the Nazis were unfounded, should we correct the historical record? Or is it better to keep quiet, lest we risk mak-ing the Nazis appear less evil to future generations? And if it’s okay to continue using falsehoods against the Nazis, is it okay to use falsehoods against Al Qaeda, or Saddam Hussein?

Those who advocate an open and unrestrained debate over our government’s case for going to war in Iraq say that allowing such a debate strengthens our democracy. If that’s true, then why shouldn’t we allow an equally open and unrestrained debate over our government’s case for going to war against Germany and Japan?

Finally, if it’s okay to suppress “revisionist” Holocaust views because some people claim that they are insensitive to Holocaust survivors, should it be okay to suppress views critical of the war on terrorism, because they’re insensitive to the victims of terrorism and their families?

These questions may not have easy “yes” or “no” answers, but it is simply wrong to criminalize and suppress the historical research that prompts us to face these necessary questions. We don’t have to agree with dissident World War II and Holocaust researchers in order to recognize the value and relevance of the questions their research raises. When we deprive them of the ability do their work, we are depriving ourselves of something valuable, as well.

And we should not just be asking ourselves these “hard questions.” Laws that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history have turned many of our European “allies” into hypocrites.

In Germany, it is legal for Germans and foreign nationals to belong to Al Qaeda and publicly talk about murdering Americans and Jews, but German citizens and foreign nationals who violate the German laws that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history are immediately charged and prosecuted 44.

In France, books claiming that 9/11 was a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. and Israel have become bestsellers carried by almost every major French bookstore 45. At the same time, however, authors who write critically about World War II or Holocaust history are thrown in prison or fined (France has Europe’s most severe anti-revisionist law, prohibiting people from questioning the version of World War II history that was laid out immediately after the war by the Allies at the Nuremberg Trial in 1946).

The French government has no problem with wild conspiracy theories about 9/11, or the American war on terrorism, but it won’t allow its own citizens to critically examine the history of France’s last war - a war through which, it should be noted, France acquired quite a lot of territory. The French have condemned Israel for, among other things, acquiring territory through war, but there are no laws in Israel prohibiting the critical examination of Israel’s past wars 46. Why won’t the French government allow its citizens the same right?

In 2002, when the U.S. decided to conduct tighter screening procedures for foreign visitors from countries that sponsor terrorism, the Canadian government reacted in horror to this “human rights violation,” even going so far as instructing its residents of Middle Eastern descent not to visit the U.S. Yet the Canadian government supplies its own customs agency with a veritable laundry list of World War II and Holocaust history books that are illegal in Canada. These books cannot be imported into Canada or possessed by Canadians. The Canadian government thinks that the U.S. should not screen visitors from “high risk” nations who seek to enter our country, yet the Ca-nadians rigorously screen every book that is brought into their country 47.

Why is the Canadian government afraid to allow its citizens to read dissident views of World War II and the Holocaust? The criminali-zation of Holocaust and World War II history is taken to such extremes in Canada that, in 1997, a well-known columnist for one of Vancouver’s largest newspapers was prosecuted for writing a negative review of the movie “Schindler’s List!” 48 According to the logic of the Canadian government, it is a “human rights violation” for the U.S. to require foreign visitors from high-risk nations traveling on guest visas to report changes of address during their stay, but it’s not a human rights violation to prosecute a man for writing a movie review!

OPEN DEBATE

Even though there are not yet any laws in the United States that criminalize Holocaust and World War II research, that doesn’t mean that there is a free and open exchange of ideas regarding these subjects. There are plenty of ways to suppress free speech in a free country. Apart from the banning of dissident Holocaust views on college campuses (discussed earlier), there is also that most reliable method of stifling free speech – outright intimidation and threats of violence.

Irv Rubin ran a Los Angeles-based organization called the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a militant, paramilitary-style activist group. If Mr. Rubin’s name sounds familiar, it’s because in December 2001, three months after 9/11, Rubin and his JDL second-in-command, Earl Krugel, made headlines when they were arrested by the FBI for plotting to blow up Muslim and Arab targets in L.A. The targets included a West L.A. mosque, and the offices of Lebanese-American congressman Darrel Issa. The day of destruction was apparently planned for December 13, 2001, but fortunately the FBI was able to intercept the plot before the bombs could be planted 49. Had Rubin’s plan been carried out, hundreds, possibly thousands, of innocent people would have been killed. Rubin committed suicide on November 4, 2002, while in prison awaiting trial. Soon afterwards, Krugel plead guilty to federal conspiracy and hate-crime charges.

What no one in the press or in law enforcement seemed eager to discuss in the wake of Rubin’s arrest was that, for the past twenty years, Rubin and the JDL had routinely terrorized dissident Holocaust and World War II scholars and researchers, and the authorities did nothing about it. In May 1982, the JDL firebombed the Los Angeles home of history teacher Dr. George Ashley 50. In December of that year, Dr. Ashley’s home was ransacked, and a note left behind by the JDL warned Ashley to stop espousing revisionist Holocaust views 51. Finally, in May 1985, Dr. Ashley’s home was firebombed and burned to the ground 52.

In 1982 and 1983, the JDL physically assaulted Cal State Long Beach professor Reinhard Buchner, who served on the editorial board of a publishing house that published revisionist books 53. In September 1982, the offices of that publishing house were riddled with bullets and burned by an arson device 54. On July 4, 1984, that same publishing house was completely burned to the ground by the JDL, causing over $400,000 in damage and destroying over 10,000 books 55.

In June 1985 the JDL firebombed the offices of a Santa Monica, CA, German-American organization that had published revisionist Holocaust views in its newsletter 56. And in April 1985, the JDL trashed the car of University of Tulsa professor Charles Weber be-cause of his Holocaust research. A note left on Dr. Weber’s windshield brazenly identified the attack as the work of the JDL, and threatened Dr. Weber with further violence should he continue writing about the Holocaust 57.

In February 1989, the JDL threatened the Red Lion hotel chain with violence unless it cancelled a conference of Holocaust and World War II revisionists that was scheduled to take place at one of the chain’s Orange County, CA, locations. Red Lion cancelled the event, which was moved to a nearby Holiday Inn. When the Holiday Inn received similar threats from the JDL, it, too, cancelled the event 58.

The JDL’s attacks on dissident Holocaust researchers reached its peak in 1994, when Irv Rubin, now making use of the information superhighway, posted a notice in the Internet calling for the murder of documentary filmmaker and Holocaust researcher David Cole, who had produced the film in which the Director of the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland admitted that the “gas chamber” there was a post-war fake. Rubin had previously assaulted Cole (who, it should be noted, is Jewish) in 1991, when Cole was invited to speak at UCLA, beating Cole on stage, in front of hundreds of people, and as cameras for the CBS news program 48 Hours were rolling 59. The notice that Rubin circulated on the Internet in 1994 was titled Who is David Cole and Why Must He Die? It referred to Cole as a “Jewish traitor” who had to be “taken out,” and it featured a photo of Cole 60.

In November 1994, three months after Rubin’s “death warrant” for Cole was put on the Internet, Cole was beaten by unknown assail-ants in his Culver City, CA, neighborhood 61. Several months before that attack, Rubin and Earl Krugel – Rubin’s co-conspirator in the thwarted 2001 bombings – were interviewed by a freelance journalist in L.A. During the videotaped interview, Krugel unambiguously expressed his desire to see Cole dead 62. After 1994, Cole went into hiding, prompting Rubin to offer a “large monetary reward” to anyone who could divulge Cole’s location, adding that he was now ready to take “immediate action” to “eliminate” Cole 63.

In December 1997, Irv Rubin and David Cole reached an agreement, in which Cole publicly recanted his Holocaust views, and Rubin removed the death warrant and the “reward” from the JDL website. After receiving Cole’s recantation, Rubin bragged on his website that this is “evidence of the power of the Jewish Defense League 64.” Cole has not spoken a word publicly since then.

At no time during this twenty-year history of threats and attacks against revisionist researchers and historians did the local police, the FBI, or the press express any real interest in the JDL’s terrorist activities. As long as the targets of Mr. Rubin’s wrath were dissident historians and filmmakers, no one seemed to care. It was only when Rubin tried to mount an attack against other targets that the authori-ties started paying attention. Fortunately, the FBI was able to prevent a massacre in 2001, but it’s not unreasonable to suggest that if the JDL’s earlier attacks against dissident historians had been taken seriously, if people had cared that these beatings, bombings, and threats were taking place, Rubin might not have been in a position to mount the December 2001 attacks, and hundreds of innocent Arab and Muslim-Americans wouldn’t have come so close to meeting a violent death.

Of course, it doesn’t always take something as extreme as a firebomb or a death warrant to intimidate people. Across the U.S., dozens of teachers, at the grade school, high school, and college level, have been fired, suspended, or reprimanded for voicing alternative viewpoints regarding the Holocaust and World War II 65. Dissident historians have been unable to find publishers for their books, or have been unceremoniously dropped by their publishers 66. Even without formal laws criminalizing Holocaust and World War II history, the private sector has, in its own way, been able to stifle free speech through job reprisals. Reprisals such as these can be just as effective as state-sponsored censorship.

A case in point: In Japan, as in the U.S., there are not as of yet any laws that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history. In 1995, the Japanese magazine “Marco Polo” (a Vanity Fair-type mixture of pop culture and politics) published an article by a Tokyo neuro-surgeon detailing his trip to Auschwitz, and the questions he came away with concerning the accuracy of some of the exhibits. Imme-diately, there was an international outcry, and Marco Polo’s publisher, Japan’s powerful Bungei Shunju publishing house, responded by completely dissolving the magazine and firing its entire staff, from the editors right down to the receptionists 67. This sent a message that was just as powerful as any governmental law. In the nine years since the “Marco Polo” incident, no other Japanese publication has dared to revisit the subject.

The fear of losing one’s job can be just as strong as the fear of going to jail, or the fear of violence.

And there are other ways of stifling open debate in a free country. If the mass media decides not to play fair, and if journalists abandon all basic standards of journalistic ethics, the public can be kept in the dark about a controversial issue just as surely as if there were laws prohibiting discussion of that subject.

Of course, media bias can be a difficult thing to prove. Advocates for every political and ideological cause claim that some segment of the media is biased against them, and it’s the standard response of every media outlet, from CNN to Fox, to deny that their coverage is slanted or biased.

As difficult as it may be to pin down exactly what constitutes bias, most in the media would certainly agree that it is unethical for a reporter to invent a quote and falsely attribute it to an interview subject.

Understanding that, let’s revisit the case of Jewish documentary filmmaker and Holocaust researcher David Cole (mentioned above). Mr. Cole’s experiences with the media provide an excellent example of the manner in which dissident Holocaust and World War II re-searchers are treated by the press. Whenever he was interviewed, Cole always went to great lengths to say that he did not deny the Holocaust. Let’s take a look at a few examples of the media’s accuracy when reporting about Cole:

In March 1993, when the Daily Texan, the University of Texas at Austin campus newspaper, decided to ban an advertisement for one of David Cole’s documentaries (this is the incident mentioned earlier in which UT Austin Chancellor Robert Berdahl argued in favor of the banning), Cole wrote an op-ed in defense of his film, which the Daily Texan printed. This caused a major controversy that was covered by the Associated Press (the world’s largest news organization). The March 9 AP dispatch, written by AP Southwest Bureau writer Pauline Arrillaga, quoted Cole’s op-ed as stating that “The Holocaust was a hoax, fabricated to drum up support for Jewish causes 68.”

The problem was, that quote didn’t appear in Cole’s op-ed (or in anything else Cole had ever written), and the sentiments expressed in the phony quote were actually the complete opposite of Cole’s position, that it was primarily the Allied governments, not Jewish organizations, that exaggerated war crimes evidence for military and political reasons. As Cole pointed out, if the Allies had cared about “Jewish causes,” they would have expressed more concern about the plight of the Jews during the war.

Cole sent a letter to Ms. Arrillaga asking about the origin of the phony quote. Ms. Arrillaga replied with this response: “Yes, the ‘hoax’ line did not actually appear in your op-ed [emphasis ours]. We mistakenly attributed it to you due to faulty background information 69.” Ms. Arrillaga, who did not explain what she meant by “faulty background information,” went on to say that if Cole wanted the false quote corrected, it would be up to him to contact each one of the hundreds of newspapers that carried the AP story!

When Cole was interviewed for The Jerusalem Report, Israel’s leading English-language newsmagazine, Cole made certain that the interview was audiotaped, to ensure accuracy. When the interview was published in October 1993, Cole was quoted as saying that the Holocaust was a “fantasy 70.” Once again, this was the exact opposite of Cole’s position. Cole contacted Sheldon Teitelbaum, the Jerusalem Report senior reporter who had interviewed him, and demanded to know where the “fantasy” quote came from, as Cole had never said it, and it was not on the audiotape of the interview.

Mr. Teitelbaum was brazen enough to send Cole a faxed response with the following admission:

The word ‘fantasy,’ I suspect, may have been chosen by a copy editor who interpreted reality in this fashion. The quotation marks were not intended to signify a quote from you [emphasis ours]. This offending phrase works as a transgression against Strunk & White, who warn against using quotation marks to signify sardonic word usage 71.

In other words, this quote did not represent something that Cole had actually said, but instead represented a copy editor’s “interpre-tation of reality.” This copy editor used the phony quote in a “sardonic” (defined by Webster’s as “a disdainfully or derisively mocking”) way against Cole. When Cole asked the editors of The Jerusalem Report to print a clarification to let their readers know that he never said that the Holocaust was a “fantasy,” they refused. Reporter Teitelbaum cynically told Cole that the editors don’t have to worry about libel or slander laws because “they are not in U.S. jurisdiction anyway 72.”

In July 1994, Cole was interviewed by Dr. Michael Shermer, a leading critic of Holocaust revisionism. Shermer has penned several books attacking revisionists, including Denying History and Why People Believe Weird Things. Shermer’s interview with Cole was part of an article about revisionism that appeared in Shermer’s Skeptic Magazine 73, and later, in expanded form, in Why People Believe Weird Things. In the article, Shermer included Cole’s name in a list of revisionist “racists,” right alongside the names of neo-Nazis and skinheads. Shermer provided no evidence to back up this very serious charge, and when Cole, who strenuously denied that he was in any way racist, asked Shermer to issue a retraction, Shermer flat-out refused.

However, in February 1995, Shermer was interviewed by Daniel Berman, a grad student researching Holocaust revisionism. The interview was not intended for public distribution, but Shermer allowed it to be recorded. The following has been transcribed directly from the tape of the interview 74:

BERMAN: “Well, David Cole is not racist, is he?”

SHERMER: “No. And I didn’t say that about David. He’s not the least bit racist….”

BERMAN: “But in your article you listed a bunch of….”

SHERMER: “Yeah, I’d already listed a bunch of racists, a bunch of them together, and I threw Cole into that bunch because I was listing everybody I had interviewed, and that was probably the biggest, uh, misleading, the most misleading thing I said in my article. I should have left Cole out of that.”

Dr. Shermer admitted that he “mislead” his readers regarding Cole being a racist. Nevertheless, to this day, he refuses to print a retrac-tion in his magazine.

Shermer also made a few candid admissions about Cole’s work:

SHERMER: “Maybe Cole’s right. I think the whole gas chamber story is probably, in terms of physical evidence, the weakest link in the whole story. To me, it doesn’t matter whether the gas chamber story is completely true or not. Maybe it could be modified, for all I know.”

In January 1994, Cole was asked by veteran CBS newsman Mike Wallace to be interviewed for 60 Minutes. Cole refused, citing concerns about how his comments might be re-edited in post-production to change their meaning. 60 Minutes went ahead and profiled Cole anyway. For footage of Cole, 60 Minutes relied on using clips from other talk shows he had done, including a clip from Cole’s 1992 appearance on The Montel Williams Show. In the clip of The Montel Williams Show that was used in the 60 Minutes profile of Cole, Montel looks at the camera and asks if the Holocaust is “a myth?” The camera then immediately cuts to Cole nodding in agreement. To the millions of 60 Minutes viewers, it clearly looked as though Cole nodded in agreement after Montel asked if the Holocaust was a myth. The problem is, the clip had been altered.

The April 1992 episode of The Montel Williams Show in which Cole appeared, and the March 1994 episode of 60 Minutes in which Cole was profiled, are both available from Burrelle’s Transcripts. A comparison of the two tapes shows that the producers of 60 Minutes took a “nod” that David Cole gave at the very beginning of the show, as Montel was reading a list of his credits, and re-edited the nod so that it followed Montel’s question about the Holocaust being a “myth.”

Using a real-time counter, the “nod” appears at exactly 0:00:56 (fifty-six seconds) into the show. Nearly eleven minutes later, at 0:11:36 into the show, Montel looks at the camera and asks if the Holocaust is a myth “or is it truth? We’ll find out when we come back.” The camera then pans the audience as the show breaks for a commercial – Cole is not shown nodding or doing anything else. When the show returns from the break, Montel starts taking questions from the studio audience; the “myth” question is not put to Cole, or to anyone else on the panel.

The producers of 60 Minutes took Cole’s “nod” from the beginning of the show and placed it after Montel’s “myth” question, which was truncated to remove the rest of the sentence, in which Montel throws to commercial break. To 60 Minutes viewers, it appeared as though Montel asked the “myth” question to Cole, who then nodded in agreement. A total fabrication, courtesy of America’s number one prime-time news program.

In six years of public appearances and lectures, David Cole, a self-described political liberal, never once denied the Holocaust or the mass killing of Jews, but that didn’t stop major media outlets from inventing quotes and fabricating footage in order to completely misrepresent his views. And these are not isolated incidents. Most revisionists have similar stories to tell.

The problem of media bias regarding dissident Holocaust and World War II historians has become even harder to deny in the past few years. The New York Times has, since 2000, sponsored yearly seminars at the Times building in New York City with the express purpose of convincing journalists and journalism students to censor revisionist Holocaust and World War II views 75. At the February 2003 seminar, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. argued against allowing any “intellectual exchange” with revisionist Holocaust historians, and Emory University journalism professor (and former NYT reporter) Catherine Manegold said that bias in this area is not only acceptable, but desirable 76.

Sometimes it can be difficult to prove media bias. And sometimes it can be surprisingly easy.

Recently, The Campaign to Decriminalize Holocaust History tracked down David Cole, who has refused to make any public comment since 1997, when Irv Rubin removed the “death warrant” from Cole’s head. With Rubin dead, Cole felt comfortable enough to provide us with a statement about the net effects of violence, intimidation, and media bias on Holocaust history:

When Rubin put the “hit” on me, I realized I had to get out. In the end, regardless of my love of history, I didn’t want to die. It was just that simple. And that’s what happens when violence and intimidation, or the threat of prosecution, like in Europe and Canada, are introduced into a debate. Anyone who has anything to lose shuts the hell up, or gets the hell out.

“Criminalizing Holocaust history hasn’t made the field safe from the lunatic fringe -- the anti-Semites, the ‘Holocaust deniers,’ the people who have nothing to lose anyway. All it’s done is make serious researchers too frightened to say anything that might get them in trouble. And frankly, it’s irrelevant to me whether the historians who’ve been fined or thrown in prison are right or wrong in their theories and conclusions. Historians should have the right to be wrong. To me, this is a fundamental right that applies to people in every discipline.

“What’s needed now is what I call a ‘post-hysteria cleanup.’ Whenever society has one of its episodes of mass hysteria, like the ‘Communist menace’ scare of the ‘50s, or the ‘satanic child molestation’ hysteria of the ‘80s, the media and the politicians jump on the bandwagon and people’s rights get trampled. But after the hysteria inevitably comes the ‘cleanup,’ when we have to clean up the mess we made when we thought the sky was falling.

During the 1990s, there was a hysteria, especially in Europe and Canada, about ‘Holocaust denial,’ and one country after another passed laws aimed at punishing historians, writers, and publishers who step out of line. Well, the hysteria’s over now. It’s time for a cleanup; time to repeal those laws. There are a lot of good reasons to do so, but for me, the number one reason comes down to a basic, simple principle: no one should be thrown in prison for writing a book.”



CONCLUSION


If there is a common thread running through each section of this booklet, it is that there is an inextricable connection between our own freedoms, and the freedoms we allow to others. When we allow views we disagree with to be suppressed and marginalized, we are, in the end, laying the groundwork for those who disagree with us to suppress and marginalize our views. When we allow people we disagree with to be beaten and threatened with death for speaking out, eventually we will encounter the same threats when we try to speak out. And if we allow the press to lower its standards of fairness and accuracy when dealing with “unpopular” views, we may one day find ourselves the target of media bias for expressing views that others find “unpopular.”

There is also a connection between the laws that criminalize Holocaust and World War II history abroad, and the quality of Holocaust and World War II history in this country. With so many of the world’s major Holocaust research institutions and archives located in Europe, the laws that restrict Holocaust and World War II research in Europe significantly affect the quality of Holocaust historiography in America and the rest of the world.

However, as important as it is to protect free speech and open debate, a somewhat more provocative, but no less important, assertion is that dissident views deserve to be heard; that we profit from being exposed to them, whether we agree with them or not. We need to challenge our beliefs by listening to those who believe differently. When we expose ourselves to views that challenge our preconceived notions, we will either become more secure in the correctness of our own beliefs, or we will learn something new and revise our beliefs accordingly. Either way, we will have profited from the experience.

This point was never better made than during the criminal trial of Ernst Zundel, a publisher who was tried and convicted by the Canadian government twice, in 1985 and 1988, for publishing revisionist books about the Holocaust. Both convictions were overturned by the Canadian courts, and Zundel fled to the U.S. with his American wife to escape a third trial in Canada. After 9/11, the U.S. shipped Zundel back to Canada, where the Canadian government, using its new post-9/11 “security” laws, decided to skip the inconvenience of having another trial, and simply threw Zundel in prison without trial. Zundel has been held in solitary confinement, in a small, bare, concrete “isolation cell,” since February 2003, even though he’s been convicted of no crime, and even though the only “crime” the Canadian government has ever charged him with was publishing a book 77.

Appearing for the prosecution at Zundel’s 1985 trial was Raul Hilberg (the man who is considered the father of Holocaust history). During cross-examination, Hilberg was asked by Zundel’s attorney, Doug Christie, whether people like Zundel actually perform a service by questioning the views of mainstream Holocaust historians. The resulting exchange is taken directly from the trial transcript 78:

HILBERG: “Holocaust revisionists, without having wanted to do so in the first place, have rendered us a good service. They have come up with questions which have the effect of engaging the historians in fresh research work. The historians are obliged to come forward with more information, to scrutinize the documents once again, and to go much further in the understanding of what really happened.”

CHRISTIE: “So in fact people questioning these types of situations can be of use to you and to others in stimulating further research.”

HILBERG: “Obviously.”

In 1995, Hilberg reiterated those views in an interview in Vanity Fair, in which he expressed his disdain for laws that punish revisionist historians: “If these people want to speak, let them. It only leads those of us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that’s useful to us. I am not for taboos, and I am not for repression 79.”

Raul Hilberg, the world’s most respected Holocaust author, freely admits that revisionists perform a valuable service by challenging the views of mainstream historians.

And that’s what dissent does. It challenges the status quo. Permitting dissent keeps things open and honest. Banning dissent encourages deceit and intellectual laziness. World War II and Holocaust history do not need to be “protected” by laws. No science or discipline has ever been improved by government-imposed limits on research and debate. Only those “experts” who don’t have the factual am-munition to defend their theories are served by laws that shield them from criticism.

As President John F. Kennedy said, “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people 80.”

The Campaign to Decriminalize Holocaust History is fighting to overturn the laws that criminalize historical research into the Holocaust and World War II, and to obtain freedom for anyone who has been imprisoned under those laws. We also seek to prevent similar laws from being passed in the United States. We feel that an organization such as ours is necessary because other, more traditional “free speech” organizations have steadfastly refused to protest the prosecution and imprisonment of revisionist historians. In the face of this silence, we feel that a new, focused effort is needed to fight the criminalization of Holocaust and World War II history.

see footnotes at site
If it can't happen as alleged, then it didn't.

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