The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/g/graves.rich/about-rich


[The following was written (and copyrighted) in January 1997 by Andrew
Mathis  for a Web Magazine article that ended up
not running. It was to be a profile of five or six people who "counter
hate groups online." I hate to see it go to waste.  While I don't
necessarily agree with all of Andrew's conclusions and beliefs, we
spent a lot of time on this, and I think it sums up what I do, and
why, better than anything I've written myself. -rich]

RICH GRAVES

Rich Graves is exactly the kind of target at whom Web Hate activists
aim their propaganda.  He is a non-Jewish, heterosexual male of white,
European ancestry, and as a networking specialist and Usenet newsgroup
moderator, he is *very* computer literate.

There's only one problem: Graves is working for the other side.  He is
one of a growing number of private citizens of non-minority status who
have taken up the fight against hate on the Internet and have devoted
personal time and energy to the battle.  Graves is an independent
whose work goes mainly into refuting Holocaust denial.  But as
anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are intimately linked, Graves finds
himself combatting lies of all kinds.

"Neo-Nazi types keep trying to 'smear' me as Jewish, leftist,
homosexual, whatever," Graves says.  "And others seem confused about
why I'm concerned, because they're not attacking *me*. The best
response I can give is that I simply don't like it when people think
they can further their own agenda by lying to me. While I've been
concentrating on Holocaust-denial lies lately, people who have known
me for a while know that I'm no more tolerant of nonsense from other
ideologies."

Graves does not see extremist groups posting as great a threat to U.S.
society as they do to certain European societies.  Instead, Graves
says, "I consider the more extreme anti-terrorist measures proposed by
President Clinton and [U.S.] Senators Biden [D-Delaware] and Feinstein
[D-California] to be greater threats to freedom and democracy."

Thus Graves' commitment to the ACLU, which is also a sort of
investment in the continued free flow of information--or
disinformation, as is often the case.  In a controversial move last
year, Graves contacted Ernst Zundel to volunteer to mirror the
Canadian's Holocaust denial site while the orignal site was being
blocked by German ISPs.  Ironically, Graves, while primarily acting
out of his devotion to free speech, learned about Nizkor during this
period, and has been, in his own words, an "Unaffiliated Fan of
Nizkor" and refuter of deniers ever since.  Graves eventually withdrew
his mirror site once he felt his point on free speech had been made,
though other mirrors remained months after German ISPs restored
service to the original site.

Says Graves: "Hate propaganda is information. The battleground is
information: accuracy, dissemination and, most of all, trust.  Rumors,
disinformation and lies have always been easier and less expensive to
produce than the truth.  The Web does not change this fundamental
imbalance; it merely changes the geography.  To engage them, one must
understand them.  To counter them, smother lies with truth.  If we can
do that, future generations will be spared the sacrifices of the WWII
generation."


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