Revisionists or Deniers

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Revisionists or Deniers? (Sidebar)

By the specific definition of the Holocaust accepted by most historians, revisionists are, by definition, Holocaust deniers, since it is the three components of intentionality, gas chambers, and six million killed that they are denying. I have decided, however, to refer to them as Holocaust “revisionists” for several reasons: (1) this is what they have always been called by historians (cf, Vidal-Naquet, 1992) until Deborah Lipstadt began her semantic campaign to call them deniers (revisionists use the term “exterminationists” in angry rebuttal); (2) while professional historians do revise the past and are therefore “revisionists,” they are just called historians because it is an understood assumption about all scholarly history that we are always revising the past. When one refers to the “Holocaust revisionists,” everyone knows who is being addressed. (I tried for awhile to relabel the creationists as “evolution deniers,” but it did not stick.) In either case–revisionists or deniers–it is not a constructive use of time to debate this semantic issue. I will agree to call them revisionists if they will agree to call us historians. This is appropriate since most of them have not had professional training in the historical sciences.

Work Cited

Shermer, Michael. “Proving the Holocaust: The Refutation of Revisionism & the Restoration of History,” Skeptic, Vol. 2, No. 4, Altadena, California, June, 1994. Published by the Skeptics Society, 2761 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena, CA 91001, (818) 794-3119.

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