[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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