Monday, September 8, 2008

UNESCO, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace

Following is my first communication addressed to UNESCO. There hasn't been time for Schmidt to reply, but as I am going out of town for four days I am posting it here for your information.


Bradley R. Smith
PO Box 439016
San Ysidro CA 92143
Desk: 209 682 5327

07 September 2008

Mogens Schmidt
Deputy Assistant Director-General for Communications and Information
Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace

Dear Deputy Assistant Director-General:

I am informed that UNESCO is the one United Nations agency with a “mandate to defend the basic human right of freedom of expression and press freedom, which are the essential components of democracy.” I am further informed that this human right “includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

How does UNESCO reconcile this important “mandate” to defend the basic human right of freedom of expression and press freedom with the 26 January 2007 call by the UN General Assembly to all its 192 Member States to “reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end”?

This is complicated by the apparent fact that, so far as I have been able to discover, UNESCO does not provide journalists with a working definition of any part of what the UN General Assembly calls upon its member states to reject. UNESCO does not define “Holocaust as a historical event.” It does not define what is meant by “in part.” And it does not define what “activities to this end” might mean.

Your help in defining these key words and phrases in the 26 January 2007 call by the UN General Assembly to “reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end” would be very much appreciated.


Bradley R. Smith



I’ve been dreaming of a calendar of some sort. It’s made of a small wood frame strung with horizontal wires, a number of wooden disks, or balls, on each wire. It resembles a Chinese counting device. I saw one fifty or sixty years ago. I’ve had this dream three, four times. It makes no sense. Though I do recognize the references to time and to the Chinese.

We were on the other side at a Wal-Mart in Chula Vista. My wife does the shopping while I wait in the McDonalds drinking coffee and reading magazines. In a recent copy of Scientific American I read that: “A sleeping brain is not merely on standby: it runs through a suite of complex and orderly activities.” And that, “The most important processing of information during sleep is to add meaning to information and fit it into a larger context.”

Maybe the next time I dream of the Chinese calendar/counting device it would be interesting and perhaps even helpful if the brain were to add meaning to its visual information and fit it into a larger context for me. That’s where I would like to go with it. To the larger context.


Reading Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke where he discusses Aldous Huxley in Hollywood writing Ends and Means, an inquiry into the philosophy of nonviolence. That was in 1937, when there was still hope. I was seven years old then, living a few miles away in South Central Los Angeles with my mother and father. My brothers were already dead. Baker quotes a passage from Ends and Means.

“We have all seen how anger feeds upon answering anger, but is disarmed by gentleness and patience. We have all known what it is to have our mean nesses shamed by somebody else’s magnanimity into an equal magnanimity; what it is to have our dislikes melted away by an act of considerateness; what it is to have our cold nesses and harsh nesses transformed into solicitude by the example of another’s unselfishness.”

Memory recalled the late afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard about 1961. We had the bookstore then a few doors down from Louie Epstein’s Pickwick Books. Mother helped me run the business. One late afternoon Mother was at the cash register when I returned from taking care of some outside business. I started to ask her how the day had gone but she nodded her head toward a tall fellow browsing one of the shelves along the wall.

“I don’t know who that man is,” Mother said softly, “but he’s a real gentleman.”

I took another look at the one customer in the store. Tall, thin, drably dressed, the head in profile that of an aristocrat. It was Aldous Huxley. His head was titled to one side to better read the titles of the paperbacks. Aldous Huxley was in my bookstore looking carefully at my modest collection of books. He remained for sometime, maybe another half hour or longer. When he left, moving slowly but very erectly, he nodded carefully to my mother.

Now memory recalls that when I was reading Huxley, I was reading Phillip Wylie at the same time. I can’t recall the las time I heard Phillip Wylie’s name mentioned. I remember him as being very good.


Last week I was to the La Jolla VA hospital for three days where they finally performed the surgical biopsy on my throat. They worked it out so that I didn’t know when I was losing consciousness, and when I woke up it was all over. I didn’t feel a thing. It was a miracle. There was a two-inch incision in the side of the neck below the left ear, twelve stitches, and no pain. I had a fat lip where a breathing tube had been inserted through the throat. I was given a bottle of pain pills and another of stool softeners and told to sleep it off. I did.

The next morning Dr. Go had me into his office and told me that, based on the biopsy, they understand that the cancer is more aggressive than they had thought. It has already moved into the abdomen and lower chest. It would be necessary to begin treatment as soon as possible. The long and short of it is that tomorrow I’ll return to the La Jolla VA to begin chemo or whatever. I’ll be pretty much incommunicado for the next four days.

Those of you who are sending me info about alternative treatment, I want you to know that it is much appreciated. I’ll look into as much of it as time permits. I have two stories going here. Smith working UNESCO, and Smith working the cancer beat. We’ll see what he makes of one, or the other, or both.


George Taylor said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

However, I can't help but feel that you are touting at windmills like a latter-day Don Quixote.

I wager you will receive no response from either Schmidt or UNESCO.

A shame, but probably an accurate forecast of events to come.

Bradley R. Smith said...

Point taken. But this first communication to UNESCO is not the beginning and not the end of the story. As we move along here, you may have a suggestion or two for me.