Archive/File: holocaust/usa/lipstadt lipstadt.007 Last-Modified: 1994/01/10 "Others have argued that the best tactic is just to ignore the deniers because what they crave is publicity, and attacks on them provide it. I have encountered this view repeatedly while writing this book. I have been asked if I am giving them what they want and enhancing their credibility by digning to respond to them. Deny them what they so desperately desire and need, and, critics claim, they will wither on the vine. It is true that publicity is what the deniers need to survive, hence their media-sensitive tactics -- such as ads in college newspapers, challenges to debate 'exterminationists,' pseudoscientific reports, and truth tours of death-camp sites. I once was an ardent advocate of ignoring them. In fact, when I first began this book I was beset by the fear that I would inadvertently enhance their credibility by responding to their fantasies. But having immersed myself in their activities for too long a time, I am now convinced that ignoring them is no longer an option. The time to hope that of their own accord they will blow away like the dust is gone. Too many of my students have come to me and asked 'How do we know there really were gas chambers?' 'Was the _Diary of Anne Frank_ a hoax?' 'Are there actual documents attesting to a Nazi plan to annihilate the Jews?' Some of these students are aware that their questions have been informed by deniers. Others are not; they just know that they have heard these charges and are troubled by them. Not ignoring the deniers does not mean engaging them in discussion or debate. In fact, it means _not_ doing that. We cannot debate them for two reasons, one strategic and the other tactical. As we have repeatedly seen, the deniers long to be considered the 'other' side. Engaging them in discussion makes them exactly that. Second, they are contemptuous of the very tools that shape any honest debate: truth and reason. Debating them would be like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall. Though we cannot directly engage them, there is something we can do. Those who care not just about Jewish history or the history of the Holocaust but about truth in all its forms, must function as canaries in the mine once did, to guard against the spread of noxious fumes. We must vigilantly stand watch against an increasingly nimble enemy. But unlike the canary, we must not sit silently by waiting to expire so that others will be warned of the danger.. When we witness assaults on truth, our response must be strong, though neither polemical nor emotional. We must educate the broader public and academe about this threat and its historical and ideological roots. We must expose these people for what they are. The effort will not be pleasant. Those who take on this task will sometimes feel -- as I often did in the course of writing this work -- as if they are being forced to _prove_ what they know as fact. Those of us who make scholarship our vocation and avocation dream of spending our time charting new paths, opening new vistas, and offering new perspectives on some aspect of the truth. We seek to discover, not to defend. We did not train in our respective fields in order to stand like watchmen and women on the Rhine. Yet this is what we must do. We do so in order to expose falsehood and hate. We will remain every vigilant so that the most precious tools of our trade and our society -- truth and reason -- can prevail. The still, small voices of millions cry out to us from the ground demanding that we do no less." (Lipstadt, 221-222) Work cited Lipstadt, Deborah E. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: The Free Press (A division of Macmillan, Inc.), 1993.
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