First published in
Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism
Richard A. Widmann
The terms “Holocaust denial” and “anti-Semitism” are hopelessly bound together in the public consciousness. In an article published this November on a blog page of the Chicago Sun-Times, it was reported that the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, would pay particular attention to a growing level of Holocaust denial. The article goes on to report that Rosenthal, the daughter of a survivor of the Buchenwald camp, conducted a group of seven American imams and Muslim community leaders to the sites of the former concentration camps of “Dachau and Auschwitz where millions were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany.” The article concludes with the statement that Rosenthal managed to get from the imams bearing witness to the tragedy of the Holocaust.
It all sounds neat and tidy, except of course that anyone who has bothered to look into the Holocaust story at all understands that millions were not systematically murdered at Dachau and Auschwitz. No historians of the revisionist or orthodox schools have made this claim for decades. Ultimately it is exactly such distortions and anti-German statements that motivate many who seek to revise the history of the Holocaust in light of the facts. And make no mistake about it, assertions that the Germans committed crimes in exaggerated numbers or with false macabre details amounts to anti-Germanism. Would there not be wailing and gnashing of teeth if someone asserted that even thousands of Palestinians were killed in Israeli-run refugee camps? In today’s hyper-sensitive, some might say Orwellian, society, which has exponentially multiplied the political correctness of the 1990s it is impossible to correct such outrageous claims about Dachau and Auschwitz without first being charged with Holocaust denial and then along with it anti-Semitism. It is demanded that everyone accept all claims about the Holocaust no matter how fantastic or improbable.
Plato established in his Gorgias, that when engaging in an argument it is most important to initially define your terms in a precise manner. While the general public unconsciously assumes they understand the terms "Holocaust denial" and "anti-Semitism" and their relationship, the truth is likely far from those carefully planted assumptions.