Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bowling Green State University

When I was at the VA hosptital on Monday morning (the 22nd) I received a call from the BG-News at in Ohio. It was from a cheerful young man named Mark Gallagher in advertising telling me that the News was going to run my Eisenhower ad. I was in the waiting room of the musculoskeletal clinic at the time waiting my turn to see the doctor. I was very happy to have the news. All that was needed was my payment via credit card. We took care of that, Gallagher thanked me for my business, and there we were. I returned to trying to find a comfortable way to sit in the wheelchair I was using to navigate the long Hospital corridors where, get this, there are no chairs where you can stop to rest the leg, or whatever is hurting most at the moment. Once you start walking, you’re on your own.

Anyhow, about ten minutes after Gallagher and I had completed our business deal to take sensible revisionist arguments to students and faculty at BGSU, the young man called me back. He said the News was not going to run the ad after all. I asked why. He said that the faculty advisor had happened by, looked at the ad, and cancelled publication. I was assured my Visa debit card would not be charged. When I asked what there was about the ad that caused the faculty advisor to cancel publication, Gallagher said the fellow was still there and I could speak to him if I wished. I did wish, and Professor Robert Bortel and I had a civil and rather interesting exchange over the next ten, fifteen minutes.

Today I wrote Professor Bortel laying out what I thought made up the core of our conversation, what I recalled to be his arguments against running the ad, and my responses. I informed him that I would distribute the letter to those I believe would be interested parties, but not before Friday, the 26th. If he chose to reply to me I would publish any corrections he made to my recollection of his position on any particular issue. I copied Mark Gallagher.

I’m of two minds doing this work. On the one hand it is interesting because the fellow you are conversing with has no idea whatever about the relevance of revisionist arguments, or the concept that Germans are human beings much like Jews and the rest of us are human beings and it seems to me to a worthwhile matter to bring these things to his or her attention. At the same time, because the other person is always new, you are always saying the same thing over and over. Although the exchange itself can be interesting in the moment, a record of the back and forth endlessly follows the same pattern, with the same arguments. There is nothing new in the revisionist world when you are addressing the need for a free exchange of ideas.

Sometime this coming weekend I’ll publish my letter to Professor Bortel here. Apologies.

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