Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taboo at Temple University

Chris Stover
Editor in Chief:
The Temple News

24 February 2009

Dear Chris Stover:

This letter addresses a cultural taboo that I feel you, and many other campus journalists, have been trapped in. I want you to know that I do not see you as a perpetrator, but as a victim of this taboo against a free exchange of ideas on the Holocaust.

As you know, I was to run an ad in The Temple News on 03 February titled “A Question for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.” At the last moment, on 02 February, TTN advertising manager Vanessa Rottet advised me: “I am sorry but we will not be able to run your ad due to its content. The editor-in-chief will not allow it to run. Thanks for understanding. Vanessa.” The “content” of the ad includes the following text:

“I have asked the Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Paul Shapiro, if he can “provide, with proof, the name of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.” Dr. Shapiro does not respond. I copied my letter to Dr. Shapiro’s colleagues at the Museum. They do not respond. I have asked more than 2,000 American academics the same question. None has responded.”

I wrote you asking how I might revise the text of the ad so that it would be viable for the TTN. I received no response. We placed three telephone calls to your desk. No response. So, this letter.

I am going to assume you sincerely believe that Germans used homicidal gas chambers during WWII to kill millions of innocent civilians. At the same time I am going to assume that you have no significant knowledge of revisionist arguments regarding the authenticity of the gas-chamber stories. If I am right, you are in the same boat as your professors, one difference being that, as a class, academics at Temple are in a position where they can publicly shame you as an “anti-Semite,” make you feel guilty, and put at risk your career in journalism if you do not at least pretend to believe what they believe about gas chambers.

The taboo among the professorial class is so pervasive that there may not be one professor at Temple University who would back you, as a journalist, in allowing one question to be raised about the authenticity of the “gas chambers” in the Temple News. One primary responsibility of the journalist in a free society, however, is to ask precisely those questions protected by establishment taboo.

Find out for yourself. Ask. That’s what journalists do.

Ask Edward Trayes, Director of Temple’s Master of Journalism Program. Will he encourage you publicly, in the name of a free press, to allow the gas-chamber question to be addressed in the pages of the Temple News?

Ask Andrew C. Isenberg, Chair of Temple’s Department of History, if he will support a call for addressing doubts about the German gas-chamber story in the pages of the Temple News.

Ask Laura Levitt, Director Jewish Studies at Temple, if she would encourage the Temple News to allow this question to be asked and followed up in your pages: “Is there one professor at Temple who can provide, with proof, the name of one person killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz?”

Try it. Don’t allow yourself to be shamed in the name of an academic taboo. Do not let the response of some professors, and the silence of others, make you feel guilty for advancing, rather than rejecting, the cause of intellectual freedom. See what you discover about the health of journalism and academic standards with regard to The Great Taboo at Temple.

I know. It’s risky. But no matter which way the cat jumps, it will make a good story for you.

Bradley Smith, Founder
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust

PS: I will copy this to persons at Temple and the off-campus press who I feel might have some interest in reading it.



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