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...your true anti-Semite, like your true Holocaust denier, is doomed to a kind of Dante-esque hell of living among Jewish things, Jewish books, Jewish artifacts.
July 27, 2009 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Bradley R. Smith and Mark Weber are at the center of the U.S. Holocaust-revisionism movement. Now they’re feuding with each other. A sensitive and interesting investigative report by Mark Oppenheimer. Via the Daily Dish.
posted by shothotbot (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was astounded. “But that’s kind of amazing, right? Because here are these classic works of Holocaust literature that purport to show it all and you say you haven’t read them closely. So you have read Arthur Butz, who’s a nobody in the field, closely, but you haven’t read the great titans in the field closely?” “You know what? I’m not interested in the story,” he replied.

All righty then.
posted by jquinby at 6:19 AM on July 27, 2009


Don't confuse them with facts.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:29 AM on July 27, 2009


Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of fellas.
posted by Skeptic at 6:40 AM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


If the Holocaust really occurred, it would show the birth certificate!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 AM on July 27, 2009 [15 favorites]


Oy.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:44 AM on July 27, 2009


I suspect an international conspiracy of bankers is behind this...
posted by Artw at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2009


If the Holocaust really occurred, it would show the birth certificate!

The Holocaust never happened because Hitler was born in Kenya.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2009


It never happened because Chewbacca lives on Endor. Now look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!
posted by jquinby at 7:03 AM on July 27, 2009


Mark Oppenheimer

Dammit, this is so very close to eponysterical.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:13 AM on July 27, 2009


Serious question: has either man actually been to Auschwitz, or Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald or Treblinka? Because I'd love to hear the theories, from the comfort of their homes in Mexico and California, about what did actually happen there.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:13 AM on July 27, 2009


I read this last week, and while I thought it was ok, I'm not sure how much it added. I do think the independent guy (I can't remember who is who) who is more interested in the contrariness of it typifies a certain kind of crank/anti-science position. I may only be that the internet makes everything that much easier to find and see, but more and more I encounter people who aren't smart enough to understand something on the merits, so opt of a position of cranky craziness as a way to shore up their certainty about topics that are deeply anxiety producing. It seems like such a transparent ploy that I have almost no patience with it, even when the stakes are considerably less significant than Holocaust denial.
posted by OmieWise at 7:14 AM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


In reality, however, that caricature grossly misunderstands this anti-Semitic Holocaust skepticism...

They are not skeptics. A skeptic would examine the evidence, realize it overwhelmingly supports the reality of the holocaust then except it as the most likely historic truth. These guys are holocaust deniers .
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:16 AM on July 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


Serious question: has either man actually been to Auschwitz, or Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald or Treblinka? Because I'd love to hear the theories, from the comfort of their homes in Mexico and California, about what did actually happen there.

Being confronted with physical evidence is not a challenge for Holocaust denialists. See: Mr. Death.
posted by OmieWise at 7:16 AM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


...has either man actually been to Auschwitz, or Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald or Treblinka?
I'm pretty sure the one of the standard lines deniers use vis-a-vis the camps is that the more egregious aspects of the camps...crematoriums, mass graves, gas chambers, etc...were staged by the Allied powers after the war. They further claim that the camps are kept up to continue the "lie" about the Holocaust.
Given this, even a whirlwind tour of the camps would not change the mind of someone who "knows" that the camps, as they exist today, are an historical fraud.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:27 AM on July 27, 2009


“But I think the thing that pushed him over,” Brown said, “was that he never could get published.” For an aspiring writer in a city with so many successful writers and artists, this was a failure that could rub a man raw. “It wasn’t like he never got close. He had corresponded with literary journals—The New Yorker, The Atlantic. He wasn’t a total dud. He was sending things back and forth, and he couldn‘t crack it. The people we knew were all interested in the same things, and he couldn’t make it like they could, and it was killing him.
This invites the obligatory 'You know who else was frustrated in their artistic ambitions?'
Let's hope the dispute doesn't turn violent, spread throughout the Holocaust denial 'community' and end with them all beating each other to death with rolled-up copies of shitty self-published screeds!
posted by Abiezer at 7:31 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's hope the dispute doesn't turn violent, spread throughout the Holocaust denial 'community' and end with them all beating each other to death with rolled-up copies of shitty self-published screeds!

Let's hope it does.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:48 AM on July 27, 2009


"Beware the buff" is the nugget in this piece.
posted by hawthorne at 7:49 AM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


These views were formed partly during his travels in Europe, during time he took off from college. It was an interregnum during which, according to one person close to Weber, he lived in Germany and was arrested for displaying a swastika—an episode the details of which Weber disputes. (That “is wrong, and I will leave it there,” he told me. “Were you arrested for something else, then?” I asked. “I’m not going to get into that,” he said.)

Alrighty then.
posted by PenDevil at 7:51 AM on July 27, 2009


Pfft. Everyone knows that jet fuel doesn't melt Jews.
posted by item at 7:57 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


“You will know them because they know more about the Jewish religion than you do. As soon as you meet one of those, and think, by God they’ve got a lot of quotations, by God they know everything about Jews—then that’s what they are. And what cheers me about all this, is that your true anti-Semite, like your true Holocaust denier, is doomed to a kind of Dante-esque hell of living among Jewish things, Jewish books, Jewish artifacts. You can see them in the library, they’ve got the Talmud up here, and they’re burrowing away to find more and more evidence against the Jews. Few Jews live a more perfect scholarly Jewish life.”

That's a brilliant quote.
posted by nasreddin at 8:03 AM on July 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


I agree with hawthorne above but would like to quote the whole paragraph for it's starkly brilliant but utterly sad conclusion.

But as one professor of mine, who had worked as a public historian, once told me: “Beware the history buff.” The buff—as opposed to the scholar, or the curious peruser, or the dilettante—eats up all this knowledge but can’t properly digest it. He (most buffs seem to be male) cannot keep facts in perspective; he fails at precisely the task the scholar is good at, figuring out which facts matter most, which pieces of evidence to privilege, what to weigh more than what. So a particular truth—that there are a lot of Jewish executives in Hollywood, or that African Americans commit more crimes, per capita, than whites—assumes an outsized importance. With no ability to create proper contexts for facts, the buff is in danger of becoming either a conspiracy theorist or a bigot, or both. This is why there is so much crossover between the communities of, say, 9/11 skeptics and anti-Semites. Conspiracy theorists and bigots are people with faulty judgment casting about for answers; but whereas the conspiracy theorist needlessly increases the complexity of the world, the bigot needlessly simplifies. “The Jews have secret meetings where they plan the world economy,” says the conspiracy theorist; “the Jews are treacherous, bad people,” says the bigot.

This.
posted by metasav at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Oops, lost italics above. Hope me!
posted by metasav at 8:06 AM on July 27, 2009


I mentioned to Brown that Smith was now married to a Mexican woman.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “It would be too intrusive psychologically to live with someone who asked too many questions of him. He’d have to be with someone as bright as he is, or be with someone with a caretaking relationship, and there would be that comfort. It wouldn’t be a woman who could provoke him. He has taken a position. He knows the other paths, and he doesn’t need to be placed in conflict or turmoil about those things.”


Um, is it just me or is she implying that Mexican women are all submissive and unquestioning? Pretty strange thing to say when you're being interviewed in an article about Holocaust denial.
posted by nasreddin at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2009


Off Topic ... but ...

I was astounded. “But that’s kind of amazing, right? Because here are these classic works of Holocaust literature that purport to show it all and you say you haven’t read them closely. ... So what are you interested in?”

“In a free exchange of ideas.”


Interesting comment ... In Europe questioning the existence or scope of the holocaust is effectively outlawed (big fine, goal time) ... it is a sacred fact ... for you all who value freedom of speech so loudly, you should also value the right to make a fool out of yourself loudly, and in public.

In a way he hits on a good point.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

History is replete with examples of history being rewritten, and a healthy scepticism for historical fact should be encouraged, as should the act of historical revisionism ... eg. it was only by questioning the account of the flooding of Babylon recounted by Esarhaddon (by looking at alternative sources) that we can establish that it was in-fact the act of his father Sennacherib (otherwise politely glossed over for political reasons). There are, of course, many more.

The holocaust deniers may be morons, but they do hi-light an interesting weakness in modern historical analysis ... that the government can still mandate a history as it did thousands of years ago. I can't support his idea, but I can support his right to question his ability to freely discuss, analyse, and question historical fact.
posted by jannw at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2009


There are whole subclasses of people who deserve to be kicked in the nuts upon waking each morning. Holocaust deniers are near the top of the list.
posted by edgeways at 8:30 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The holocaust deniers may be morons, but they do hi-light an interesting weakness in modern historical analysis ... that the government can still mandate a history as it did thousands of years ago.

No, they can't. There are too many jurisdictions, too many channels through which information can seep out. If you look at China - arguably the best example of the state defining history - they can't even manage it and their ability to do so is weakening, not strengthening.

The flip side to the kind of totally liberalized free speech is the morass of info-opinion that floods the blogosphere and is responsible for the polarization in US cable news. In the place of "the government" mandating fact you now barely have facts: what cannot be written off gets ignored or drowned out; what can be downplayed is written off as immaterial, suspect, flawed, biased; what can be attacked is set upon by eager bands of partisans desperate for a home win.

I personally *like* that certain European countries have taken a stand on holocaust denial. The issue has been debated and dissected by all sides. Holocaust denial is found grossly wanting as a theory. It's not unfair to say that anyone persistently denying it now is doing so in bad faith and not through eccentric or misunderstood academic curiosity. I'd say the same of creationism.

I'm aware that mandating some intellectual, historical or scientific positions as off limits is a slippery slope, but I can't say that a situation where every half-baked nutter demands his right to be heard is much better.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


His papers and pamphlets include “Buchenwald: Legend and Reality” and “Fred Leuchter: Courageous Defender of Historical Truth,”

Oh man. If I were going to parody Holocaust denial, those are the kinds of titles I'd come up with. Especially the second one. Yeah, "Mr. Death" is really required viewing if you want to understand how these guys' minds work. Plus, the word "choad" was pretty much invented to describe Fred Leuchter. I mean, he's just the wormiest little dork you'll ever see, even aside from being a despicable piece of shit.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:01 AM on July 27, 2009


Are there Holocaust Museum attack deniers now?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2009


MuffinMan: I agree with many of your points, but your equation of the theories of creationism and holocaust denial is a bit of a stretch. How are holocaust-deniers and creationists the same?
posted by joecacti at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2009


How are holocaust-deniers and creationists the same?

20 IQ points, same as in town.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:56 AM on July 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you look at China - arguably the best example of the state defining history - they can't even manage it and their ability to do so is weakening, not strengthening.

A counter-example, where the rewrites can take root because people really want to believe them, is the curriculum in schools in Pakistan.

Somewhat related; this article talks about the South Asian cultural willingness to put our heroes above public criticism, both justified and unjustified.
posted by vanar sena at 1:14 PM on July 27, 2009


“…your true anti-Semite, like your true Holocaust denier, is doomed to a kind of Dante-esque hell of living among Jewish things…” “That's a brilliant quote.”
Yeah. But I wish more people had read Dante (vs., say “Tropic of Cancer”) so every hell reference doesn’t have the pretense. Plenty of history of hell. Anyway, if anything it’d be Milton’s hell. Also – on the ‘you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?’ wavelength – Jewish things are in hell?

“Holocaust deniers are a touchy bunch, prone to infighting…”

Didactic bigots hate Jews like this. But Jewish-Zionist power bigots hate Jews like this.
I dunno about the scatological disgust. I suppose as long as it doesn’t get in the way of misunderestimating the impact such people can have. Not sure if they’re ‘very smart’ per se. Although I’ll grant Hauerwas’s position that they do use their minds.

And, yeah, “forbidden by their religion from developing real intellectual curiosity, they turn their brainpower toward half-baked biblical exegesis that makes sense according to its own hermetic logic.”

Indeed, it’s the lack of cynicism and industriousness that makes it dangerous.
If you watch the old WWII films there is, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, there were the fanatics who would shout “Heil Hitler” and give the stiff arm salute and then there were the ‘cool’ Nazis who just gives the half-hearted hand up. But y’know, who was working for who? Joe Germansoldier was still under the Nazi high command.
Reminds me of the conversation between two Jews talking about how the fundamentalists supported Israel and how that was ok. “Uh huh, just you wait.”
posted by Smedleyman at 2:40 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman: plus jews don't believe in hell!
posted by blasdelf at 5:56 PM on July 27, 2009


.It's not unfair to say that anyone persistently denying it now is doing so in bad faith and not through eccentric or misunderstood academic curiosity

Sure, but I don't see why that should lead to it being outlawed. Obviously this is a very American viewpoint, but if the debate is that clear, laws should not be needed except for those so on the fringe that the law doesn't really deter them.

In fact, holocaust denial is a great example of this -- despite it being perfectly legal to talk, write books, do dramatic re-enactments, whatever, it's an extremely fringe idea in America, even among racists and bigots (much more common where I grew up was a kind of amusement / they deserved it feeling from the anti-semites, not exactly better but even those idiots knew the Holocaust happened).

Creationism is at least a little trickier because it explicitly invokes things that can't be proven, so while it's not science (and thus the whole teaching it in science class thing should be a no-brainer), you can always make a case that a supernatural being *could* have done all sorts of things. Not the same ballpark as denying something as well-documented as the Holocaust.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:11 PM on July 27, 2009


for you all who value freedom of speech so loudly, you should also value the right to make a fool out of yourself loudly, and in public

What of the likes of Robert Murdoch? He literally controls a huge, influential media machine and uses that machine to shape public opinion. Were he a Jew-hating Nazi who used his media networks to raise an army of hundreds of millions of American households determined to eliminate the Jew, Gypsies, Queers, and Slavs, we'd have another set of genocides on our hands. We can't be having that! Clearly there are limitations on free speech, otherwise we risk allowing another sociopathic nut to rally the haters into genocide.

Societies are nasty beasts, because ultimately they are human in nature. A tame society has and knows its boundaries. A feral society harms its citizens.

Nutcase free speech, like holocaust denial and jew-hate, is a feral characteristic. We we want breed it out society. "STFU Nutcase" is the appropriate response when a nutcase has significant ability to influence society. We eliminate that evolutionary path: we move our society further from the abhorrent idea that it is okay to harm humans.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on July 27, 2009



What of the likes of Robert Murdoch? He literally controls a huge, influential media machine and uses that machine to shape public opinion. Were he a Jew-hating Nazi who used his media networks to raise an army of hundreds of millions of American households determined to eliminate the Jew, Gypsies, Queers, and Slavs, we'd have another set of genocides on our hands. We can't be having that! Clearly there are limitations on free speech, otherwise we risk allowing another sociopathic nut to rally the haters into genocide.

Societies are nasty beasts, because ultimately they are human in nature. A tame society has and knows its boundaries. A feral society harms its citizens.

Nutcase free speech, like holocaust denial and jew-hate, is a feral characteristic. We we want breed it out society. "STFU Nutcase" is the appropriate response when a nutcase has significant ability to influence society. We eliminate that evolutionary path: we move our society further from the abhorrent idea that it is okay to harm humans.


Holy shit, who took five fresh fish and replaced him with the crazy guy who hangs out outside the Citgo?
posted by nasreddin at 11:10 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


How are holocaust-deniers and creationists the same?

Joecacti: They're obviously not the same morally. But if one chooses to throw out the vast weight of evidence pointing to one thing in favour of a stick thin, belief-based theory then you're basically following the same process.

To me, creationists might as well be pointing to balloons, birds and airplanes and telling us that gravity doesn't exist. The same sort of thing is true with holocaust deniers. There may, perhaps, be a debate to be had about the exact size - whether genocide of scale x or scale y - but the debate is essentially over unless one chooses to ignore reams of evidence.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:29 AM on July 28, 2009


What of the likes of Robert Murdoch? He literally controls a huge, influential media machine and uses that machine to shape public opinion.

OH JEEZ HE CONVINCED ME HIS FIRST NAME WAS RUPERT ALL THIS TIME

I AM A SHEEPLE BAAA BAAA

FNORD
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2009


Shitheels.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2009


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