Thursday, June 19, 2008

Professor Alan Dershowitz and the Name of One Child, with Proof

Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
Harvard University

19 June 2008

Dear Professor Dershowitz:

I watched you speak (thanks to YouTube) on 04 May at the symposium titled “Defending Truth: Legal and Moral Imperatives of Holocaust Denial.” I understand that the event was organized by the U. of Baltimore School of Law and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

I agree with you that questions about the Holocaust should be open to the “marketplace of ideas.” Since February I have been asking academics to provide me with the name of “one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.” The first professor to whom I addressed the question was Deborah Lipstadt of Emory U., the lady whose virtues you speak of with such enthusiasm during your talk. In the event, Professor Lipstadt did not respond.

Since then I have asked hundreds of academics that one question. The question does [not] claim that the gas chambers did not exist, and does not make a claim that the “Holocaust” did not happen. It is a very simple, direct question. To date, not one academic has provided me with such a name, and none has attempted to do so.

For example, I have written the Director of one of the agencies that sponsored the symposium where you spoke, Dr. Paul Shapiro, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advance Holocaust Studies. Could he provide me with the name of “one person, with proof …” He has maintained the same discreet silence in response to this simple inquiry that most all others have used to – how shall I put it – to perhaps evade the question.

In your talk at the U. Baltimore symposium you suggest that Holocaust minimizers like Hilberg, Chomsky, and Finkelstein are more difficult to deal with because, unlike straight out “deniers,” their writings are not based on “the existence or non-existence of gas chambers.” You ask, “Why are gas chambers so important?” And you respond to your question by saying: “If there were gas chambers, everything else from the [Holocaust] narrative follows.” The implication is, if there were no gas chambers, everything else in the Holocaust narrative would “falter.” I think you are right about this.

In your talk you speak movingly, and I believe sincerely, about the “importance” of the mass murder of Jewish children in the genocide of the Jews. You argue that “the children had to be killed first” because they were “the genetic future of the Jewish people.” And: “They were the genes. That was the genocide.”

Professor Dershowitz: can you provide the name, with proof, of one Jewish child who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz?

Professor Dershowitz: do you believe it is morally right for academics to forward the charge against Germans of having murdered a million or so civilians in gas chambers at Auschwitz, and at the same time act out the role of “bystanders” by refusing to commit themselves to providing the name of one person – one child or one adult, with proof – who was murdered in one of those rooms?

Thank you for your time.

Bradley R. Smith

NOTE: I will copy this letter to some of your colleagues at Harvard Law School and to other parties who I believe might be interested.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Meeting with Che Guevara, by Gajendra Singh

Introduction by Israel Shamir

Singh’s piece is interesting and provocative, and in the best sense of the word, sentimental. Here in Baja, Che is a cultural hero, his portrait/s in the windows of countless curio shops.

If you don’t know who Israel Shamir is, you should take a look.

Nevertheless, one night in 1968 when I was in Saigon, I came across Che’s “Letter to the Bolivian People” in a copy of Ramparts Magazine. My reaction to this uniquely sentimental and subsequently famous letter by Che did not go down well with me. There was an important question of fairness that Che did not seem to be aware of. He was an utterly charming man, but revolution, command, and desire choked up his awareness of the others.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not exactly the Dead Sea Scrolls, but. . . .

I have found that I downloaded a good part of the thread commenting on the Richard L. Cravatts article “Whatever Intelligent Design Is, It's Not a Theory and It's Not Science.” It was posted on History News Network on 17 November 2005, and "disappeard" by nervous nellie editors at HNN in (probably) May 2008. This is the kind of exchange that is PROHIBITED by HNN editor Rick Shenkman. I ask you, what is there here that is so troubling to those who edit HNN, or so vulgar that they cannot allow it?

Shenkman is promoting his latest book, "Just How Stupid Are We?" I suggest that one reason might be that the professorial class, as a class, has participated in the "stupifcation" of their students, thus the voters, by arguing that certain political issues are off the table. Example: in the ongoing news coverage of Obama and McCain, watch for a real exchange of ideas regarding the U.S. alliance with Israel. Has the Alliance proved to be good for the American people? Or a catastrophe?

I predict you will hear nothing about it. How is such a debate kept "off the table?" Avoiding such a debate is morally justified by the "genocide" of the Jews during WWII. Anything that might question part of that immense story is "off the table" for HNN -- but not entirely for the professors who post there. There were always posters who were willing to challenge my arguments. The censorship of all revisionist discussion of the Holocaust question did not come from the "people" (the professors) but from those in charge of HNN.

With regard to the thread below, which HNN itself has "disappeared," I see that I was trying to format it into a simple Word document so that I could print it out and send it to readers of my newsletter who are not online. It remains unfinished. I cannot vouch for its inclusiveness or accuracy. It would not be necessary if the document had not been “disappeared” by a Burmese-cloned HNN editorial staff that gets its shorts in a twist over any open back and forth -- in the light of day -- on the Jewish Holocaust story.

You will find that Professor Jonathan Dresner jumps into the mix right at the start. Dresner was Rick Shenkman’s right hand man in 2005, and I suppose he is the “editor” and/or “editors” who is advising Shenkman in 2008. Dresner is all too easily shocked by any suggestion that there might be something wrong with one or more of the hundreds of thousands of stories and millions of documents that go to make up what is understood to "be" the Holocaust.

==========================

Here is a final paragraph from Professor Cravatts’ essay on Intelligent Design, into which he brings Holocaust “denial.” Here I am the first to post a comment, and this may in fact be the first time I posted on HNN. I don’t know, can’t find out, because HNN has “disappeared” my posts as being too – what?

====================

Whatever Intelligent Design Is,
It's Not a Theory and It's Not Science


By Richard L. Cravatts

Mr. Cravatts Ph.D., a lecturer at Boston University, Tufts University, and Emerson College, writes frequently on social policy, housing development, Constitutional law, business, and politics.

[ … ]

"The fact is that not every intellectual viewpoint is worthy of being discussed in the classroom, merely because one group feels passionately that their issue has intrinsic value, is true, or should be heard as part of the marketplace of ideas. Some truths are absolute and do not require a fair and balanced measurement against some contradictory body of thought. An entire intellectual ‘industry’ of Holocaust denial research has many fervent followers, for instance, but few sentient school boards would find it palatable or reasonable to have students exposed to the ‘theory’ that the Holocaust never occurred along with history lessons expressing the verifiable and incontrovertible fact that it did."

====================

You can access the Cravetts article in its entirety, and the remnants of the thread here.

To read the thread commenting on the Cravetts article, including my own posts that were disappeared by HNN editor Rick Shenkman, go here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ethics in the Academic World

In his first paragraph to the preface of Saints and Scamps: Ethics in Academia, Steven M. Cahn writes, “Some years ago I was asked to deliver a lecture on the subject of ‘Ethics in the Academic World.’ When I mentioned the topic to a faculty colleague, he remarked, ‘It’ll be a short talk.’”

Steven M. Cahn is, and has been for many years, professor of philosophy at City University of New York Graduate Center.

History News Network, a Web page by historians for historians, has banned me for expressing “doubts” about the Holocaust, for questioning the “existence” of the Holocaust, for expressing “doubts” about Auschwitz. My informant, the Founder of HNN Rick Shenkman, refuses to tell me what “doubts” about the Holocaust I expressed, where I questioned the “existence” of the Holocaust, and what “doubts” I expressed about Auschwitz.

At the same time, HNN has removed everything I have posted on HNN over a period of two-plus years so that no academic or anyone else can read what I actually wrote and judge for herself what I wrote there. Ethics in the academic world.

On 05 June when I notified some of the Bloggers on HNN of (what I see as) the ethical problem with how HNN is being administered I received two responses.

Charles W. Nuckolls, Professor at Brigham Young University, wrote: “I do not know the issues involved, and would like to see the evidence presented on both sides -- but especially on the side of those doing the censorship. It is they who bear the burden of proof. It can certainly do no harm to state the policy explicitly and to cite the proof accumulated against a contributor that he has violated the policy. I am simply not in a position to judge without knowing more.”

This is a brief, ethical and sensible response to the issues I raised. Professor Nuckolls will not be able to see the evidence presented on both sides of the question however because HNN has “disappeared” every word that I posted there.

Timothy Burke responded from Swarthmore: “I think Bradley Smith's websites (http://www.codoh.com/, bradleysmithblog.blogspot.com) are pretty instructive, if the question is, ‘Is Bradley Smith a Holocaust denier?’ If the question is, ‘Did he make specific comments denying or debating the Holocaust in specific HNN threads?’, that's a slightly different issue, I suppose. But all good blogs, it seems to me, make use of bans, warnings and remarks from the host to cultivate the kinds of discussions, conversations and contributions that they'd like to see. Any individual blog is not a mirror of the widest public sphere--they're all more analogous to a party or salon. I have no problem with the hosts at a given party deciding they don't want a particular sort of guest on principle as long as their taste in guests doesn't start to exclude people I'd like to hang out with myself, or becomes so narrow that the party either dies out or becomes nothing more than an echo chamber.”

Here we have a mixed bag. I agree that any Blog has the right to decide who will and will not be allowed to participate on that Blog. I am arguing that the rules should be stated clearly so that it can be understood what language is to be prohibited, what information is to be prohibited, and what opinions are to be prohibited. And that these rules should be stated clearly for everyone to see.

HNN has no statement on its site defining Holocaust “denial.” Burke does not provide one. Burke, as does HNN, takes it for granted that “everyone knows” what it means to be a Holocaust “denier,” what it means to express “doubt” about the Holocaust, to question the “existence” of the Holocaust, to express “doubts” about Auschwitz. Because “everyone knows, ' HNN does not have to define how it uses any of these words in any context. This is how it works in a despotic environment, an enviornment committed to a specific cultural and political worldview, and is one of the reasons that a lecture on “ethics in the academic world” can so often be addressed by a very short talk.

In the end, we don't have to use a sophisticated language here, it’s a matter of being fair. Being fair is not easy, sometimes it is not simple, and can seldom even be when politics drive academic decisions about language, fact, or opinion. Without receiving a single complaint about my language from any HNN administrator in close to three years, without notice, my posts were “disappeared” and I am accused of using language and having opinions that I did not use and do not have and that in any case are not clearly prohibited by HNN itself.

I have asked Rick Shenkman to retrieve those threads that contain my censored posts and send them to me so that I can post them on my own Web site so that those HNN readers who are interested in the ethical and academic standards held to by HNN (a Web page by historians for historians) can decide for themselves. Professor Shenkman has refused to do this. It’s as if the ethical and academic standards employed by HNN are based on those used by a clone of a Burmese Government.

NOTE: This post will be forwarded to Professor Cahn and others.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Holocaust Absolutism as bad poesy

I have stumbled over something written by a Professor Rudolf Carnap in the 30s. He writes that “metaphysical propositions are neither true nor false, but expressive.” That is, they are like lyric poems. They “pretend” to be representative, to have theoretical value, and on this count deceive the reader, and the metaphysician himself. The metaphysician believes that his metaphysical treatise has asserted something, and he is led by this into argument and polemics against the propositions of some other metaphysician.

A poet, however, does not assert that the verses of another are wrong or erroneous, but that they are either good or bad.

Reminds me of my question about the Auschwitz gas chambers in which metaphysicians from every walk of life claim that maybe a million Jews were murdered. My question, “Please provide me with the name of one person, with proof . . . .” does not assert that a million or so Jews were not killed in those machines. I am not arguing that the claims made by gas-chamber metaphysicians are wrong or erroneous, I cannot demonstrate that to be true, but that their arguments are “bad.” If their arguments were good, they would try to answer my question. But in truth they are the most commonplace of lyricists, repeating their canned verses without end, understanding perfectly well that the great mass of our compatriots listen to their bad poesy and accept it much like they listen to and accept the comedy of "I Love Raymond."

Friday, June 6, 2008

University College London, bastion of intellectual freedom

A letter to the Jewish Chronicle

A denier replies06/06/2008

This is the fourth week that you have alluded to my work, and you ought to allow me some right of reply. You report that I’m deemed to be “antisemitic” on account of comments I’ve made about certain WWII gas chambers (JC, April 23). Your correspondent Mr Aaronovitch also averred that I was advocating “extreme Holocaust denial”.

I’m drawing a conclusion from two chemical studies by Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf (1988 and 1991), which suggest that no mass cyanide gassing could have taken place in the Auschwitz chambers because the residual cyanide just isn’t there. Whereas it is present at high levels in the delousing chamber walls. I hope and believe that I’m not in any way antisemitic or neo-Nazi, as people are now telling me.

I’m just looking critically, as a science historian, at the evidence for certain chambers having been used in conjunction with Zyklon-B insecticide in the war. It is true that I had an opportunity to present this matter on Iranian TV, but I’d be happy to argue it anywhere else. I wouldn’t mind having an apology for calling me a racist. I’m not doubting that this period of history was the most terrible in the collective memory of the Jewish people in which vast numbers of them died and have no objection to this being called “the Holocaust”.

Nicholas Kollerstrom, nk@astro3.demon

[For a good presentation of the background to this story see Telling Films ]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Obama as a weak ray of hope

*** Listened to a good part of Obama’s talk before Zionist Central, AIPAC. He pledges to continue the richly funded, decades old, alliance between the U.S. Congress and Israel, with tens of billions of additional (additional) funding. He has got his great uncle out of Auschwitz now and speaks knowingly of Ohrdruf, the sub-camp of Buchenwald. No mention of friends of his uncle seeing the atrocities first hand at Treblinka, a fabrication that has been on his Website going on six years now.

I can understand how Barrack would not know much about the Holocaust (who cares, really, other than those who profit from it?), but what about the people around him, taking care of him? Year after year the false Treblinka story on the World Wide Web and no one mentions it to him? And these jerks want to run the United States of America, run the Middle East and a good part of the rest of the world?

My man is Ron Paul, but he didn’t have a chance. No one thought he did. One night I watched Jessie Ventura on the Jay Leno Show. After listening a few minutes of his rich, confident voice, viewing his manly presence, I understood that if Ron Paul had known how to project himself the way Jessie projects himself, Ron might still be in the race. Paul is my guy, but he’s a little whiny. Doesn’t project a presidential voice. In his own way, with his oratorical skills, Obama does.

I have had the sense that Obama might consider Arabs and Muslims generally to be human beings. I wouldn’t bother voting for him, but I looked upon his candidacy with something resembling a weak ray of hope. Wouldn’t it be nice in the 21st millennium for America to have a president who senses that Arabs are human beings, even Palestinian Arabs, even those living in the Gaza camp, a man who might understand something of the catastrophe our most entangling alliance with a foreign state has been, is going to continue to be, for America?

Probably not in the cards.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rick Shenkman and the Reverend Hagee

*** Every once in a while I have to stop and reflect on what I am doing and what I should be doing with regard to the work. Since the work makes up a good part of the life, it is not a complete waste of time to try to see the picture.

I’m working on a documentary, provisionally called The Great Taboo, which is stalled right now, as it periodically is, due this time to an unexpected reaction of institutional censorship in Baja, Mexico.

I am working with The Lipstadt Question: “Can you provide the name of one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz?” Some three thousand American, German and British academics in history, journalism, German, Jewish studies, political science, philosophy and so on have received the question. The question appears to quietly terrify our typical academic. Responses have been rare, and even in those rare instances off topic, as if the respondent, in spite of his academic accomplishments, does not really understand the question. The question being so simple, I find it truly remarkable that it is not understood. Of course, the great majority of academics who have received the question and have not attempted to respond may well understand the question and the implications of the question. That is why they do not respond. Their silence does not suggest idiocy certainly, but does suggest a significant lack of character.

Now I have to do something with History News Network (HNN). The editor of HNN, Professor Rick Shenkman, has banned me from posting on its Webpage. Shenkman writes that I question the “existence” of the Holocaust and express “doubts” about it. Shenkman appears to be out of the loop here, apparently not knowing what I have written or where I have written it, and is depending entirely on what he is being told by an assistant editor, most likely Jonathan Dresner, until recently of U. Hawaii at Hilo, and now at Pittsburgh State U. (Kansas).

According to his bio on HNN, Shenkman was educated at Vassar and Harvard, and is a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. He gives lectures at colleges around the country on such matters as American myths and presidential politics. In 1997 he was the host, writer and producer of a prime time series for The Learning Channel inspired by his books on myths.

For my own part, I was educated at John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles, formally known as the place where they did the riots, one of which I was privileged to observe from the inside as it were, geographically speaking.

Now, based on the individual educational backgrounds of Shenkman and Smith, who would you think it wise to listen to regarding possible “myths” about the Holocaust, or about Auschwitz? Or would you say it might be “wise” to listen to both? Or is there just too much suggested irony here to even contemplate the question?

Shenkman writes: “I am told that you [me] expressed doubts about Auschwitz. That's enough for me.”

What doubts? Shenkman doesn’t care. He’s a professor. What did I actually write? Shenkman doesn’t care. He’s a historian. Do I doubt something about Auschwitz that might be difficult to believe? Shenkman doesn’t care. He’s a true believer. That’s enough for him. Vassar, Harvard, the Society of American Historians – so much chopped liver. Belief is the issue here. True belief. The Rick Shenkmans are the academic answer to the reverend Hagees. Hitler, Jews, the Holocaust. True belief all the way down.

Still, I am left with the question: what do I do about HNN? I don’t know. I don’t know what I can do. I don’t have any brilliant ideas. I do have a little something in mind that I can do. I suppose I will do it. But without support from those who are allowed to post on Rick Shenkmans HNN, without offending this True Believer, I don’t expect to get very far.

If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Deborah Lipstadt on Obama’s Auschwitz Mistake

Obama's Auschwitz Mistake is an example of “typical family lore where one camp is substituted for another. Had Obama thought about it he probably would have known the story has a historical mistake. This is a matter of historical ignorance not anything diabolical.”

Maybe.

Obama has been jiving the Holocaust story since October 2002 – some six and a half years. Auschwitz and Treblinka. And that is only what we know.

“My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.”

Auschwitz -- and then Treblinka! Family lore again, I suppose. Wonderful! Here’s a guy we can count on.

Obama's Auschwitz Mistake [2]

“Here's some background on what the American soldiers who came upon [I generally avoided the word "liberation"] Ohrdruf camp.”

“Gen. Eisenhower was one of them and his comments upon seeing the camp are well known. ‘We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against.’"

Professor Lipstadt ignores the ugly irony that while Gen. Eisenhower could empathize with the victims at Ohrdruf, he did not have enough of what it takes to empathize with the German ladies and their babies and children and their mothers and grandmothers who were intentionally burned alive by the tens of thousands throughout Germany by American and British air, under his command.

And then there is the terrible irony for the Professor Lipstadts. When General Eisenhower wrote his autobiographical account of his role in WWII, Crusade in Europe, he did not mention “gas chambers.” The greatest weapon of mass destruction ever unleashed against humankind. The weapon on which the Professor Lipstadts of the world base their careers and their good fortunes. We understand why General Eisenhower would not mention them. He was not an academic historian, so he was psychologically free to have some respect for historical truth. Can we say the same for the Professor Lipstadts?

Professor Lipstadt (or any professor), please: Can you provide the name of one person, with proof, who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz?