The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response/nwu.001

Subject: CODOH's paid advertisements: Northwestern University
Summary: Three letters to the editor address CODOH's advertisement regarding
         the Holocaust Memorial museum in Washington, D.C.
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Distribution: world
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac
Keywords: CODOH

Archive/File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response nwu.001
Last-Modified: 1993/10/20

Thursday, April 11, 1991 
The Daily Northwestern
by Professor Peter Hayes, professor of German and History.

When this newspaper printed Bradley Smith's advertisement last Thursday  
(The Holocaust Story," April 4, page 11), it fanned not one, but two,  
gathering controversies on campus. The first concerns our knowledge about  
the Nazi massacre of the Jews of Europe. The second centers on the  
policies of The Daily itself.

Surprisingly perhaps, the first issue is far easier to clarify than the  
second. Of course, there's been no suppression of free inquiry into the  
Holocaust. It is precisely because of extensive and vigorous research by  
bona fide scholars over the past three decades that we now know not only  
several of the facts that Smith manipulates in his ad, but also a good  
many that he does not want you to believe.

There's no point in writing more here about the factual deceptions and  
distortions in Smith's ad. In response, hell only do what he's been doing  
for years when refuted: he'll repeat his verbal sleight-of-hand in  
different words, abandoning his most duplicitous remarks and filling in  
the resulting gaps with new twists on the truth. It's his full-time job,  
and nothing seems to discourage his enjoyment of it.

If you are really doubtful or curious about these terrible events, I  
suggest you enroll in my course on the history of the Holocaust. where we  
explore what scholars do and don't know about the subject and why. If that  
doesn't fit into your schedule, drop by my office, and I'll suggest books  
you can read.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that not a single one of the advances on our  
knowledge since 1945 has been contributed by the self-styled  
"Revisionists" whom Smith represents. That is so because contributing to  
knowledge is decidedly not their purpose.  Neither is the defense of  
Germany's good name, Smith's professed motive for his zeal. As someone  
with a deep affection for that country, in which I have spent much of my  
adult life, I can only say in the face of this claim: "With friends like  

After all, ask yourself: Have you everseen a Committee for Open Debate on  
the Potato Famine devote so much money and time to restoring the good name  
of the United Kingdom by refuting the historical "legend" that British  
government policy in the 1840s callously and consciously assured the  
deaths of millions of Irish people? Is anyone running ads to assert that  
Stalin did not annihilate millions of Soviet citizens in the 1930's, even  
though our documentary evidence concerning the decision-making process and  
the numbers of victims is considerably weaker than in the case of the  
Holocaust? No again. These issues are fought out in the acadernic  

Why does this subject engage Smith and his ilk so? Why have they  
transported it from a matter of academic study and debate to a public  
outcry against those very processes? Above all, their purpose is to  
intimidate the people who are in a position to say how shabby and ignorant  
their "research" is.

You misunderstand Smith's ad if you think he's out to convince you yet.
Right now, hell be happy to sow a few doubts in vour mind, but that task  
can wait. The real purpose of his disinformation campaign is to wear down  
the likes of me. By concentrating, like most obsessives, all his resources  
on what for others is only one among many matters of con cern, he hopes to  
make people who know something about the events at issue become passive,  
since responding over and over again just takes too much time and energy.  
Once he's done that, he expects to have a free run at you later.

And that brings me to the issue of The Daily. It is helping him. By  
accepting Smith's ads, of which the one on April 4 was the largest but  
only the latest in a series dating from Fall Quarter, this newspaper has  
opted to let itself be used as a megaphone by persons and organizations  
whose claims have been repeatedly exposed over the past 10 years,  
including in court, as dishonest and duplicitous.

The Daily seems to think that it is bound to publish Smith's sort of ad on
grounds of objectivity, neutrality and the responsibility of the press to  
provide avenues of expression to all sides. But The Daily has no  
obligation to accept advertising its editors know is false and malicious,  
or even just tasteless.

In fact, The Daily frequently makes judgments about its advertisers. It  
knows that the act of publishing does not make a paper into the automatic  
mouthpiece of anyone who wants to use it and has a few bucks.

For instance, The Daily does not, so far as I can tell, accept ads for  
phone sex services. It would not, I hope, accept full-page recruiting ads  
submitted bv the Aryan Nation or the Ku Klux Klan. If the Better Business  
Bureau of Evanston advised The Daily that a would-be advertiser had a  
record of deception similar to Smith's, I suspect its ad would be  
But, you might object, this is different-Smith's ad merely dissented from  
a point of view, it didn't peddle sleaze or preach racial conflict or ask  
for someone's money. Wen, look again. This ad is an assault on the  
intelectual integrity and indrpendence of academicians, whom Smith and his  
ilk wish to browbeat. It is also a throwback to the worst sorts of  
conspiracy-mongering long characteristic of anti-Semitic broadsides. You  
all know the form: "You're being lied to, its an in the interests of the  
Jews; innocent non-Jews (here: the Germans) are being victimized; even a  
few Jews can't stand the subterfuge anymore; help break the power of this  
plotting gang of deceivers by writing to the following address." It  
doesn't take a lot of sophistication to see through this sort of thing.

Maybe it takes more sophistication than one can expect of the Daily's busy
leaders. How can they know enough to make qualitative judgments about the  
sortof groups that submit ads to the paper? It sounds like a reasonable  
question. I hope a simple answer will help. By using their heads, that's  

Is it plausible that so great and long-standing a conspiracy of repression  
could really have functioned? That no genuine scholar would have long  
since emerged to blow the whistle on it, if it had? That everybody with a  
Ph.D. active in the field-German, American, Canadian, British, Israeli,  
etc.-is in on it together? C'mon now, the international scholarly  
community isn't Nixon's White House. If one suspects it is, might it not  
be wise to do a bit of checking about Smith, his organization and his  
charges before running so implausible an ad?
OK, you might say, but at least at the time Smith placed the ad, The Daily  
might reasonably have been unaware of his and his various organizations'  
records. Well now The Daily knows.

Make no mistake, freedom of inquiry or speech is decidedly not the issue  
posed by Smith's ad any more than historical accuracy is. Bradley Smith  
(and Arthur Butz) remain free to pen nastiness and get it printed and  
mailed to anyone. Their First Amendment rights, however, do not compel  
either a university or a newspaper to provide them platforms.
What is at issue is whether The Daily Northwestern wishes to continue to  
serve the interests of demonstrably dishonest and presumptively malicious  
people by retailing their views at a profit. What is required of The Daily  
here is the courage to make and stand by a principled moral judgment.  
"Professional ethics" should not be used as a cover for refusing to do so.


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