The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

"Tom Moran's misreading...
is so full of illogic that sorting out his lies
...will take a bit of effort"

[UseNet headers trimmed]

From: Marty Kelley
Subject: Holocaust Specifications For "Proof"
Date: Sun, 29 Dec 1996
Message-ID: <>
References: <32cdf17f.3621260@>

On Fri, 27 Dec 1996, tom moran re-posted his deliberate out-of-context quote of a letter from Deborah Lipstadt to the New York Times. Since I've previously addressed Mr. Moran's illogical reading of this letter, I will simply re-post the discussion that ensued the last time I noticed Mr. Moran's nonsense on this point:

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From mkelley@U.Arizona.EDU
Date: 18 Sep 1996

"Tom Moran's misreading of Deborah Lipstadt's 11/8/93 letter to the New York Times is so full of illogic that sorting out his lies and errors will take a bit of effort. For the sake of clarity, it might be useful to reference my two earlier replies to Mr. Moran's distortion of this letter, archived at:

[HTML note: Mr. Kelley's filename was incorrect, as Nizkor had moved it. The link leads to the correct file. knm]

On Mon, 16 Sep 1996, tom moran wrote:

"Marty Kelley <mkelley@U.Arizona.EDU> wrote:

"On Sun, 15 Sep 1996, tom moran wrote, regarding Deborah Lipstadt's

[Moran] "Anyway, the gist of her mentality and criteria for historical accuracy lies in her statement "They argue Pressac's book is superfluous; the tears of the survivors should be sufficient proof." "Let me reiterate Deborah's terse statement on historical accounting;


[Kelley] "But golly, Mr. Moran--she is saying that this is what OTHERS say. She is not saying that she believes this--in fact, she goes on to explicitly say that Holocaust deniers must be countered with facts, and that therefore Pressac's book is necessary.

"They argue Pressac's book is superfluous; the tears of the survivors should be sufficient proof."

[Moran] "These are the words. I left off quote marks so it is clear that the sentence is Ms.Lipstadt's and not a reference to something a revisionist said, as Mr.Kelley is trying to infer. "

[Kelley] "Wrong, Mr. Moran. In both clauses of the sentence, Dr. Lipstadt is referring to survivors and others who complain that Pressac's book is "superfluous." She is not referring to "revisionists" here.

[Moran] "The first part of the sentence is her statement on what revisionists argue, the part, after a semicolon, is her statement on what should suffice. A semicolon is different than a comma. It is defined in the dictionary as "used to indicate a major division in a sentence".

[Kelley] "No, no, no, Mr. Moran--once again, though, you have given me a rather interesting punctuation exercise to use with my students. (Remember your problem with commas when we were discussing U.S. Supreme Court decisions?) A semicolon does indeed mark "a major division in a sentence." However, in this sentence, it does NOT indicate that the second clause is Lipstadt's opinion.

According to one textbook, "semicolons can be used to join independent clauses if the second clause restates or sets up a contrast to the first." Read in the full context of her letter, it is readily apparent that the second clause _restates_ the first--i.e., that Lipstadt is attributing the claim that "the tears of the survivors should be sufficient proof" to the same people who claim that Pressac's book is "superfluous." She disagrees with people who make such claims, and then goes on to explain why documentary work such as Pressac's is important.


[Moran] "Hey, let's look again at the full text of her letter....

[Lipstadt] "Jean Claude Pressac's book detailing how the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz actually worked (news article, Oct. 28, Week in Review Oct 31) has elicited condemnation from a variety of sources contending that "genocide was possible because it happened."

[Moran] "Now she is not giving the full sentence here, is she? Why not?

[Kelley] "She was quoting it accurately. Here, however, is the full paragraph in the 10/28/93 NY Times article about Pressac's book:

"Some concentration camp survivors and their children living in France have reacted angrily, saying in a statement that the book amounts to the height of cynicism. `Genocide was possible because it happened,' they said. (NY Times, Oct. 28 1993, p. A3)

[Kelley] "Nothing in this paragraph indicates that Lipstadt is misquoting anyone. Are you arguing that she is quoting the source inaccurately?


[Lipstadt quoted] "In the best of all possible worlds they would be right. The testimony of those who suffered as well as the corroboration of the perpetrators themselves would be the ultimate proof."

[Moran] "Now this sentence is hard to relate to any preceding relevance which she implies with "...they could be right". She states that testimonies are the ultimate proof, whereas we could very well say that actual photographs of what should be there, according to Holocaust evidence and real forensic reports, and documents that are not subject to interpretations, but actually say something concrete. "

[Kelley] "Well, no. She states that in the best of all possible worlds, a book that goes over already-proven facts would be superfluous, and the fact that both the survivors AND the perpetrators were in agreement on what happened should settle the matter. However, note that she uses the phrase "in the best of all possible worlds," Mr. Moran. People use tht phrase when they are acknowledge that ours is NOT the best possible world. So once again, this paragraph argues directly AGAINST the notion that testimony is sufficient proof.

[big snip]

[Lipstadt quoted] "I too have been challenged as to why I had to write a book exposing the background and methodology of the deniers."

[Moran] "Right here is a most ridiculous statement. Maybe Mr.Kelley can translate it into something understandable. What the sequence has been, is, she has been challenged to a debate, she refused, and opted instead to write a book "exposing the background and methodology of `the deniers' in lieu of using the mounds of evidence to undo the utter nonsense."

[Kelley] "Mr. Moran is apparently confused about who Lipstadt is referring to. Here, she is NOT referring to "challenges" from Holocaust deniers, but to challenges from historians and others who believe (wrongly, I think) that paying any attention to Holocaust deniers gives them undeserved attention. As to the contents of Lipstadt's book, Mr. Moran has repeatedly said he has never read it. As a matter of fact, Lipstadt _does_ use documented evidence to address several main denier claims."


[Lipstadt quoted] "Had they been ignored from the outset, my book would also be superfluous. But too many people, including naive students and talk show hosts, treat them as an other "point of view." So a comprehensive analysis of the deniers was necessary.

[Moran] "Here she states again the motive and contents of her book, `a comprehensive analysis of the deniers' instead of a comprehensive analysis of denier arguments and presenting the awesome stuff she claims."

[Kelley] "Once again, since Mr. Moran has not read Lipstadt's book, it's clear that he is unaware that she does, in fact, present a compelling analysis of the flaws in deniers' arguments. She convincingly shows that they routinely lie, quote selectively, and engage in dishonest pseudo-scholarship.


[Kelley] "Mr. Moran apparently does not understand the concept of attributing a statement to others in order to refute it.

"Here's a scenario: Suppose Mr. Moran wrote "There are some who claim that the Holocaust happened, that millions of innocent people were wiped out by the Nazis," and then went on to argue that he didn't think that was the case. Would Mr Moran consider it accurate if I then wrote, `Tom Moran admits that `Millions of innocent people were wiped out by the Nazis''? That's precisely equivalent to what he's done to Lipstadt's text, although Mr. Moran seems wholly unable to recognize it.

[Moran] "Mr.Kelley should use this whole sequence as a lesson for his class and see what they have to say. Maybe they could make a connecting relevance to Mr. Kelley's 'parable' example above. "

Excellent idea, Mr. Moran! When the syllabus permits, I will give my students the 10/28/93 NY Times article about Pressac's book, Dr. Lipstadt's 11/08/93 letter, and copies of our discussion. I'll ask them to pass on their comments to this newsgroup. In particular, we'll focus on your weird interpretation of the semicolon's function.

Incidentally, I have been showing Lipstadt's letter to several colleagues, both graduate students and professors, and asking them to summarize it. To avoid "bias," I have not told them about our discussion in a.r. Not a single one of them has agreed with your interpretation of Lipstadt's comment about "the tears of the survivors." (That sample includes, by the way, a German graduate student studying second-language teaching.)

[Moran] "I would say Ms.Lipstadt is thoroughly corrupt. Whether she knows it or not, that is another question.

"Her statement above, "They argue Pressac's book is superfluous; the tears of the survivors should be sufficient proof" is, 'What they say; what she says'.

"I would rate Mr.Kelley in the same ranks as Ms.Lipstadt."

"I would be honored to be in the same ranks as Dr. Lipstadt!

---------------------- Marty Kelley (mkelley@U.Arizona.EDU) "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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