March 5, 2010

Tons of free publicity for Holocaust deniers

Demonstration to demonstrate effect of online advertisement

The Badger Herald, a student paper in Madison, WI, decided to accept a small advertisement which hyperlinks to a Holocaust denial outfit (at the moment it's directly to the left of the story above).

Seems it caused a fuss. This has long been a dilemma, but in this case, easily resolvable for anybody with knowledge and foresight.

In the 1980s the Hitler-loving* neo-Nazi Ernst Zündel was brought to trial two times in Toronto for "reporting false news." He got convicted twice and it took several years for the law he was charged under to be found invalid as a restriction on free speech.

Before being charged, you would have been lucky to come across one of Zundel's mimeographed-in-his-basement handbills at the back of a city bus, on the floor with a greasy (and/or snowy) footprint on it.

But when they brought him to court, they made a supastar out of him. His first trial lasted weeks, he had one of the most celebrated civil rights lawyers in the country, and the national news carried daily footage of him arriving at the venue on University Avenue downtown wearing his blue hard hat and literally dragging a life-size cross.

I don't recall the significance of the construction helmet but the cross' was obvious and offended just about everybody.**

The Globe and Mail — the northerly rough equivalent of the New York Times — ran headlines derived from Zündel's false testimony, as if it was being reported as facts. Afterwards there was a lot of soul-searching on the part of the Jewish community, especially among those who had pushed for the charges in the first place.

In short, the notoriety that Zündel craved was provided by the very people who'd rather him and his little pals would just go away.

I believe Zündel has since returned to Das Vaterland after spending some time in Tennessee (and in various prisons).

I haven't read whatever reasoning the Badger Herald has provided to justify its supporting the link as "advertising," but had it been my call, I would have told them thanks but no thanks for your big 75 dollars.*** Kindly carry your business — such as it is — elsewhere.

Because, like Zündel, they're getting a hell of a lot more bang for their buck now, a depressingly simple calculation to have made.

* One of his pamphlets was actually entitled, The Hitler We Loved.
** I don't buy the "martyrdom" of Zündel, Larry Flynt, and the like. Of course they should have prevailed legally under theories of free speech, but that doesn't make them martyrs, it makes them creeps.
*** Truth be told if I was a student editor — and I have been, in another lifetime — I'd take the cash (but not cash the check) and change the hyperlink to something like this or perhaps this.


Nullifidian said...

The Hitler We Loved?

Man, now I'll never be able to think of Ernst Zündel without conjuring up an image of Franz Liebkind ranting about the British, getting smashed on schnapps and singing old German tunes.

"The Hitler you loved, the Hitler you knew, the Hitler with a song in his heart."

I wonder if he's got an unperformed musical out there just waiting for a Broadway impresario to take it on.

Free Lunch said...

Holocaust deniers need to be ignored, mocked and called on their lies, depending on the circumstances. The Badger Herald showed particularly poor judgement.

The Sconz said...

I think it would be "der vaterland." Masculine.

illusory tenant said...


Charles said...

No event in human history has been studied as thoroughly and carefully than the Holocaust. Thousands of thesis and dissertations papers have poured over mountains of data, from physical evidence and anecdotal testimony to captured German war documents. Virtually everyone with a PhD in History will stake their career on the fact that millions of Jews were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany. One can no more "revise" this fact than one can revise the existence of gravity. Wannsee Conference records prove that Nazis planned the extermination of Jews as, "The Final Solution." German concentration camp records prove that it was carried out.

Ignoring Holocaust deniers allows them to propagate their historical fabrications for vulnerable young minds to absorb and consider as valid. We cannot risk another Holocaust perpetrated by minds polluted by today's vocal deniers.

Whenever we stand up to those who deny or minimize genocide we send a critical message to the world. As we continue to live in an age of genocide and ethnic cleansing, we must repel the broken ethics of our ancestors, or risk a dreadful repeat of past transgressions.

Holocaust deniers ply their mendacious poison everywhere, especially with young people on the Internet. Deniers seek to distort the truth in a way that promotes antagonism against the object of their hatred, or to deny the culpability of their ancestors and heroes.

Museums and mandatory public education are tools to dispel bigotry, especially racial and ethnic hatred. Books, plays, films and presentations can reinforce the veracity of past and present genocides. They help to tell the true story of the perpetrators of genocide; and they reveal the abject terror, humiliation and degradation resulting from prejudice. It is therefore essential that we disclose the factual brutality and horror of genocide, combating the deniers’ virulent, inaccurate historical revision. We must protect vulnerable future generations from making the same mistakes.

A world that continues to allow genocide requires ethical remediation. We must insist that religious, racial, ethnic, gender and orientation persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny's only hope. Only through such efforts can we reveal the true horror of genocide and promote the triumphant spirit of humankind.

Charles Weinblatt
Author, "Jacob's Courage"