The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: orgs/american/ihr george.will
Last-Modified: 1993/11/10

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
From: (Deana Holmes)
Subject: George Will column on Holocaust deniers
Message-ID: <>
Organization: The Sunset Bar and Grille
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1993 15:15:44 GMT
Lines: 101

[copied without permission from the Austin American-Statesman, August
29, 1993.  Typos are probably mine]
Holocaust deniers fail in twisting truth
by George Will
Amid the genteel tinkle of restaurant lunch sounds, Mark Weber is having
difficulty doing justice to his salmon, such is is passion for justice,
as he pretends to understand it.  He is trying to persuade me that the
Holocaust never happened.  It is not going well.
I am a hard sell, having visited death camps (Auschwitz-Birkenau,
Majdanck, Treblinka) with survivors.  But the fact that some Jews
survived is part of the Holocaust deniers' "proof" that the Nazis never
intended extermination.
Weber edits _The Journal of Historical Review_," a recent issue of which
advertises a book "that dares to ask: Who Benefitted from the `Crystal
Night,'" the Nov. 6, 1938, anti-Jewish rioting.  If you guessed that the
Jews benefited, you have got the drift of Holocaust "revisionism."
"Revisionism" is a term of scholarship hijacked by pseudo-scholarship in
the service of anti-Semitism.  Holocaust deniers present any conflict
among, or amendment of, survivor's testimonies, or any historical
refinementof previous understandings, as "proof" that the Holocaust is a
myth.  Weber allows as how maybe a million Jews were victims--of the
rigors of confinement, and of excessive Nazi security concerns.  But
Holocaust deniers say victims exaggerate, and after the war Nazis made
false confessions to appease their captors, who were serving the
myth-makers--Jews fabricating martyrdom for political and financial
The deniers' "arguments" always return to what Weber, like the Nazis,
calls "the Jewish question" (Judenfrage).  The gas chambers were really
showers.  Zyclon-B gas was too weak to kill or too powerful to use for
mass murder--it would have killed those who emptied the "alleged" gas
chambers.  When Hitler promised "the annihilation of the Jewish race in
Europe" (Jan. 30, 1939) he was, says one denier, merely using heroic
hyperbole--"the kind of defiance that was hurled by ancient heroes."
And so on.
For some people, historical partisanship, such as defending Richard III
against the charge that he ordered the murder of the princes in the
Tower, is a hobby.  But what kind of person makes a career of denying
the reality of an almost contemporary event that was recorded
graphically, deocumented bureaucratically and described in detail by
victims, bystanders and perpetrators?  Such a person tortures the past
in the hope of making the future safe for torturers.
In her new book _Denying the Holocaust:  The Growing Assault on Truth
and Memory_, Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University argues that the
deniers' work "is intimately connected to a neofascist political
agenda."  She says the denier's aim is to rehabilitate Nazism and
re-evaluate its victims, thereby delegitimizing Israel and vilifying
Hitler, says Weber at lunch, was "the most philosophical" figure of the
20th century, and "his understanding of this century was more on the
mark than that of any of his contemporaries."  Anti-Semitic and
anti-democratic, Hitler understood the necessity for severely
hierarchical and racially homogenous nations.
Applying these ideas, Weber says that America "has two ways to go."  It
can become a "Third World" chaos of tribes, or can be sundered into
racially pure entities.
The Webers of the world are few, and their "arguments" are farragoes of
dizzying non sequiturs and mock-scientific analyses of a sort concocted
only by lunatics or sinister cynics.  But the deniers' increasing
echoes, and their ability to insert themselves into the conversation of
society, are cultural symptons.
Holocaust deniers play upon contemporary society's tendency toward
historical amnesia, and its muzzy notion of "tolerance" that cannot
distinguish between an open mind and an empty mind.  Thus a young
reporter for a respected magazine interviewing Lipstadt (without reading
her book) asked this question:  "What proof do you include in your book
that the Holocaust happened?"  That reporter passed through colleged
unmarked by information about even the largest events of the century,
but acquired the conventional skepticism of the empty-headed:  When in
doubt, doubt.
People as ignorant as that reporter know nothing, so they doubt
everything except how sophisticated they are when they assume that
nothing is certain.  This assumption is irrigated in the badly educated
by fashionable academic theories of epistemological indeterminacy.  The
vocabulary and mentality of literary "deconstruction" seeps everywhere,
relativizing everything, teaching that history, like all of life, is a
mere "narrative," a "text" with no meaning beyond what any individual
reads into it.
That is the bad news.  The good news is that this year 2 million people
will pass through Washington's new Holocaust Memorial Museum, which will
survive the survivors and be their testimony.
Deana M. Holmes            | Oscar Wilde once said:  "I find it harder       | and harder every day to live up to my
(512)406-7216              | blue china."

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