Sent via email
Director of Student Publications,
Bowling Green State University
22 June 2009
Dear Professor Bortel:
You and I were on the telephone Monday morning (the 22nd) where we had a brief back and forth regarding my ad which was to run in the BG-News, but which you cancelled after it had been accepted by BG-News students.
I did not take notes, so I will paraphrase, to the best of my recollection, the main observations made during that conversation. I want to say up front that you were perfectly civil with me during our conversation. I especially appreciate that as I could clearly sense the discomfort you felt in having this particular exchange.
The headline to the censored ad reads: “Dwight D. Eisenhower.” The head is then followed by this text:
“Dwight D. Eisenhower published his Crusade in Europe in 1948. In 582 pages General Eisenhower did not mention the German gas chambers in which it was claimed that millions of Jews and others were ‘exterminated.’ We are asking ‘Why not?’”
You said a significant minority of the BG News readership would be “offended” by publication of the ad. You did not mention which significant minority. But you mentioned “offensive” and the word “offend” a number of times.
When I asked why anyone would be offended by asking why General Eisenhower would write a 582-page book about the Crusade in Europe, a military crusade which he directed on the Western front, and not mention gas chambers, you said you did not know why. I could understand that. I don’t know either. Nevertheless, you said it would be offensive if the question were to be published.
When I asked again why that would be, you said because asking that question “implies” that the Holocaust did not happen. I responded that the history of the Holocaust consists of a vast collection of individual stories, some of which are true, some false. This goes without question. And that even without the gas chambers, if they truly did not exist, it was clear that the Jews of Europe suffered a catastrophe during WWII.
There was a moment of confusion here. You hesitated, then you asked if I had said that the Jews of Europe had NOT suffered a catastrophe during WWII. No, I said. They had suffered a catastrophe, and it was clear that they had, along with a lot of other peoples.
At the beginning of our back and forth you told me that while you are not a historian (I said that I am not one either), you had made it your business to look into the literature of WWII with some care. As a matter of fact, you supplied details to some of your observations that illustrated that you do have more than a passing knowledge of that era. At the same time, from what I could tell, your understanding of the history of WWII is entirely orthodox.
I admitted that the question in question implies that I do not believe the gas-chamber stories. I added that if they did exist they would have been the greatest WMD ever known to man, more deadly than the great fleets of heavy bombers that were employed to holocaust hundreds of thousands of innocent German and Japanese civilians, culminating with the nuclear attack by the Americans on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I may have said that if the existence of the gas chambers could be called into question, that would suggest that the history of WWII would have to be rewritten.
I suggested that you consider the fact—the fact!—that the Holocaust is not about Jews. It is about Germans and Jews together, forever. No Germans, no Holocaust. Yet no one is asking anyone anywhere to be “sensitive” toward Germans. Are you? Have you ever? Here you are censoring an ad that leads with a question that could be read as being implicitly “sensitive” toward Germans in that the question implies, and this is the reason you pulled the ad, that Germans are not the “unique” monsters they have been made out to be. Yet you will not allow it to run.
You emphasized again and again that the ethnic cleansing of Jews by the German State was the attempt to murder all the Jews of Europe. You distinguished that from the mass slaughters by fire carried out by American WMD, those great fleets of heavy bombers and nuclear weapons. You claimed that the German and Japanese women, babies and children burned alive by American WMD were not direct targets but were, in effect, the unintended casualties in a great war. Upon even a little reflection, you must understand that this is not true. German and Japanese women, babies and children and the aged alike were intentionally massacred because—they were Germans and Japanese. As you said yourself—they were purposely killed en masse to break the will of the German and Japanese peoples to continue the war.
Essentially, you defended the mass murder of innocent German and Japanese civilians because it was done for what your Government argued was a “greater good.” Yet that was exactly the thinking that the German State exploited in its program for the ethnic cleansing of Jews—that it was to be carried out for a “greater good.” I don’t recall how you replied to this observation, but I want to tell you that I believe the bloody (literarily) hypocrisy of helping maintain such a teaching culture on the American campus is impossible to morally justify.
The problem for academics on the American campus is that my question “implies” that Germans are human beings of the same order as Jews and the rest of us.
Germans, just maybe, did NOT use WMD (gas chambers) to try to “exterminate” the Jews of Europe? Your refusal to allow (and it was your decision—students were set to run the ad) this simple question to be asked in the BG-News is an example of your refusal, which is really your evasion, of your responsibility to view Germans as human beings in the same way you view Jews and others to be human beings.
The time is come for us to rise above the kind of bigotry that has been exhibited at the BG-News in this case. Tell me. What is wrong with helping to forward a free exchange of ideas about the gas-chamber story, the Holocaust story, in the BG-News, your newspaper?
If it is an honest question, why should you care that it will offend some? If you believe it is not an honest question, tell me why you believe it is not. I’m willing to be convinced that I am wrong to put the question.
Copy to Mark Gallagher at email@example.com