The fall of communism in Eastern Europe has led to a revival of anti-Semitism in many of the former Iron-Curtain countries. Officially prohibited in many of these countries since the end of the Second World War, the emergence of xenophobic nationalism has witnessed the emergence of “patriotic” political parties which blame not only communism but also poor economic conditions on the Jews. For example, in Russia, Pamyat peddles the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as proof of the world Jewish conspiracy to strangle the economies of the lands of the former Soviet Union. In the Ukraine, neo-Nazi parties have arisen who subscribe to a credo in which citizenship is based on “blood” and openly preach hatred against Jews. In Poland, before the economy recently improved, the poor state of affairs was blamed on Jews in a country where Jews, after the Holocaust, are almost invisible in numbers. Germany has witnessed a revival of neo-Nazism and even the reemergence of a Hitler cult. Skinheads target Jews and “foreigners” for beatings and openly—although against the law—celebrate ideas of racial purity. One can find this growing phenomena in almost every European country.
The United States has not been exempt from this new wave of hatred of the Jews. In fact, in America anti-Semites have linked up with their German and French counterparts to create their own unique contribution to the new anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial. In denying what is probably the most documented instance of state-condoned mass murder, Holocaust deniers have devised a strategy that appears reasonable to audiences who know little history and are conditioned to believe that there is always more than one side to an argument.
On many of the nation’s college campuses, black nationalist speakers have been invited to share their animus toward White America and, in particular, their hatred of Jews. Recent events at Wellesley College, Kean College, Trenton State College and C.U.N.Y., indicate that audiences consisting primarily of black students and faculty are receptive to the message of anti-Semitism. For example, at the Philadelphia Community College of Philadelphia, Kwame Ture (the former Stokely Carmichael) stated that “the Zionists joined with the Nazis in murdering Jews.” How is this phenomenon to be understood? Why are Jews, former allies in the battle for the civil rights, now subjected to the venom of anti-Semitism? Why are some black nationalists becoming neo-deniers by diminishing the significance of the Holocaust?
In the case of Holocaust denial, how do we explain that 50 years after the most barbaric destruction of a people in history and with survivor testimony available to bring witness to the Shoah, Holocaust deniers have been able to gain some measure of respectability for their canards? Why are students and some faculty willing to listen to this rhetoric of hate? Part of the answer lies in the clever packaging of the “new anti-Semitism” in ways that disguise the real agenda of the deniers and black nationalists who, in fact, continue the legacy of centuries of “Jew-hatred.”
Anti-Jewishness (the term anti-Semitism was first coined in 1879) has been prevalent throughout the history of Western Christian civilization, which inherited many of the negative stereotypes about Jews from the ancient world. The scientific revolution and the Enlightenment presented the possibility that images of Jews, which had been forged in Christian tradition, would disappear with the secular emphasis on reason and logic as the source of our understanding of reality.
In fact, in much of Western Europe, religious truth was superseded by the use of the scientific method as the mark of an educated person. Despite Kant and the Romantics, education based on the rules of logic and reason relegated other forms of knowledge, intuitive and religious, to the sphere of the personal. The religious-minded person might credit God with the parting of the Red Sea but attributing the causes of the French Revolution to God’s will would quickly result in a failing grade in any secular—or for that matter—religious institution of learning.
This revolutionary change in understanding truth was not necessarily shared by the great mass of European society. By the end of the 18th century, the ideas of the Enlightenment had been absorbed by some of the intellectual class of Eastern Europe, but religious authority continued to determine the content of education. Similarly, despite the scientific revolution in the West, faith and belief in the miraculous and the supernatural continued to inform large numbers of Europeans in terms of explaining extraordinary phenomena. In the struggle to bring about modernity, as symbolized by the French Revolution, many of those who opposed the Revolution appealed to religion and tradition to oppose the new emerging order based on political and economic liberalism. In its appeal to those uprooted by modernity, political reactionaries explained the great upheavals in terms and images that were familiar to the masses. The catastrophe brought about by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era was blamed on conspiratorial forces that had plotted and directed the upheavals of 1789.In particular, Jews and Masons were singled out as the villains, and it was easy to argue that the great long-term beneficiaries of the Revolution were the Jews who, by the end of the 19th century, had been emancipated and allowed to assimilate into the mainstream of European society. As for the Masons, they were identified as the plotters who had destroyed Christian institutions and had subordinated religion to the power of the state. Meeting in secret and communicating with one another through signs that only they understood, the Masons were accused of attempting to destroy Christianity and replacing it with a religion based on reason and natural law.
As for the Jews, it was not difficult to feed on centuries of Christian teaching that taught that the Jews represented the feared and hated “other.” A list of negative sterotypes about Jews which encompasses the period of Christian religious hegemony over Europe and was readily familiar to the ear of Europeans would include;
The Jew as the anti-Christ
The Jew poisoned the wells of Europe
Jews engaged in ritual murder
The synagogue was the house of Satan
The Jews were the agents of the Devil
The Jew as Devil (his skullcap covering his horns)
Jews desecrate the Host on their holidays
Jews were usurers
Jews as Christ-killers
The Jew as bent on the destruction of Christianity
That many Europeans were receptive to the image of the Jew as the enemy of Christianity meant that it was easier for racists and anti-Semites in the 19th and 20th centuries to transfer these stereotypes into the modern idea that the Jew was the enemy of the state. Thus, in its modern form, was born the Jewish conspiracy theory of history. As both much of Western Europe and the United States in the 19th century moved from an agrarian to an industrialized society, the changes also brought about many cultural and intellectual innovations which collectively we call modernity. The new cultural and intellectual elites formed by secular modern Europe and America included many Jews, who gained fame, wealth, and positions of influence disproportionate to their overall numbers in society as a whole. For a growing number of political and cultural anti-Semites, the prominent position of Jews in industrialized Europe was evidence that the volatile changes brought about by the French Revolution were the work of the Jewish Conspiracy and their Masonic— now read liberal bourgeois—allies.
Russian reactionaries during the Czarist period, Volkisch intellectual in Germany, anti-Dreyfussards in France, and segments of the Populist movement in the United States, focused on Jews as part of the Conspiracy that was responsible for the excesses of industrialization. In the 20th century, the Jewish conspiracy theory was fostered not only by the Nazis but also by Josef Stalin. The so-called “doctor’s plot” which almost led to a massive pogrom against Jews in the Soviet Union was based on Stalin’s paranoia that Jewish doctors, who were his attendants, were part of a Jewish conspiracy to assassinate him.
During the Middle Ages, the idea of a Jewish Conspiracy was the work of the medieval imagination. But in the post-Enlightenment era, the myth was reinforced with “hard evidence” in the form of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. First published in Czarist Russia during the reign of Nicholas II, the Protocols claimed to be an eyewitness account of a meeting of Jews in a Prague cemetery where a rabbi ostensibly outlined the strategy that would lead to the Jew’s conquest of the world. The Protocols entered Germany via Russian émigrés who had escaped the Bolshevik Revolution and attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler and his volkisch comrades. For Hitler, the account was a convincing explanation for the rise of Bolshevism and, at the same time, the perceived dominance of the Jews over the world’s credit and banking institutions.
Both the Nazis and Henry Ford were among the most notorious disseminators of the fraudulent Protocol, although Ford was later to apologize for publishing the forgery in his Dearborn Independent. For Baltic German émigrés such as Alfred Rosenberg, the Bolshevik Revolution and its disproportionate number of Jewish leaders were proof that the Revolution was the product of the world Jewish Conspiracy. Rosenberg converted Hitler to this view of history and, in turn, Hitler merged the conspiracy theory with his racial views.
Borrowing from an eclectic number of social thinkers of the 19th century, Hitler accepted as fact that Germany was involved in a life-and-death struggle with the Jews. Influenced, in particular, by 19th-century racial theorist Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s ideas, Hitler believed that all of history was shaped by the struggle between Aryans and Semites. Chamberlain believed and Hitler accepted the argument that genetic pools express themselves not only in different physical characteristics but also in different mental, social, and cultural characteristics. Aryans and Semites not only looked different but also manufactured culture differently. Thus, for Hitler, the nation was defined as a population that comes out of a particular social heritage with all of its ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and genetic implications. The German nation was an Aryan nation and the Jews were Semites. Throughout history the Aryans had confronted the Semites and had always proved superior. The Hittites (Aryans) had conquered the Egyptians (Semites), the Aryan Persians had defeated the Semitic Babylonians and the Greeks had conquered much of the Middle East. Further-more, Aryans had the most developed language (Indo European) and stunning physiques, whereas Semites possessed ugly physical characteristics, were genetically inferior and a mongrel people as a result of race-breeding between Africans, Egyptians, Canaanites, and Phoenicians. Hitler subscribed to the view that these two races were in eternal conflict and that the Aryan race was intrinsically superior. As for Christianity, it came down to one of two choices; claiming that either the great figures of the Bible from Abraham to Jesus were Aryan transplants, or Christianity, as Judaism, was a Semitic religion and thus inappropriate for true Aryans.
Inasmuch as Jews were Semites, they represented a threat to the Aryan blood-lines. Once Jews were emancipated and then attempted to assimilate into German life, especially through intermarriage, they represented a threat to German physiology and destiny. For Hitler, the Protocols represented the Jewish strategy to conquer the Aryan peoples. Thus, he fused the conspiracy theory with racial anti-Semitism and the result was, in the words of Lucy Dawidowicz, a war against the Jews. The Holocaust should be viewed from this perspective, that the Nazis sought to weed out an alien species that threatened to destroy the purity of the German race. Hitler also believed that democracy, as Bolshevism, was a Jewish invention and that the allied nations that opposed him during WWII were, in fact, agents of the conspiracy. Jews, therefore, were viewed as the primary obstacle to the fulfillment of the Nazi promise of a thousand year Reich, Drawing on a medieval symbol, the Jews became the dragon to Hitler’s St. George. Hitler was determined to destroy the Jewish conspiracy and, once the war started, it became his obsession, believing that the destruction of European Jewry would constitute a victory for the Aryan race even if Germany lost the conventional war to the Allies.
The defeat of Nazism, however, did not discredit the belief in the Jewish conspiracy, nor did the myth of Aryan supremacy disappear. Rather, these ideas went underground and generally were associated with the “lunatic right.” So long as the Holocaust claimed the moral conscience of the world, Nazi racial ideas had little chance of gaining an audience; at least this was the case until the last few years.
The resurgence of anti-Semitism in recent years can be attributed to many factors. As the excesses of Nazi atrocities continued to unfold and researchers uncovered different facets of the extermination policy, it became difficult for anti-Semites to speak out publicly against Jews. In the United States, the language of civility prevented the type of crude anti-Semitism that characterized public discourse until the end of WWII.The public “Jew-Daiting” of a Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi or Georgia’s populist leader Tom Watson was out of a place in a country that formed a consensus that anti-Semitism in public discourse was unacceptable. In Europe, except for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, there also existed a moratorium on anti-Semitism. Criticism of Israel, however, become a different matter. After the Six-day War, the image of Israel as a David fighting against Goliath began to change. As the cause of the Palestinians began to receive a sympathetic hearing in Europe, anti-Semites seized the opportunity to renew their war against Jews in the guise of anti-Israel rhetoric. Thus, in addition to the legitimate type of criticism that was made against Israel’s policy in the occupied territories, there were also those who challenged Israel’s right to exist.
In continuing Hitler’s racial war against the Jews, through its attack on Israel’s legitimacy, anti-Semites in both the United States and Europe realized that to be successful they must overcome the link the public made between the Holocaust and the subsequent creation of Israel. Thus the strategy began incrementally by first questioning the number of Jews killed by the Nazis, and it soon escalated to a denial of the Holocaust in general. The tactics used by the deniers served three objectives: to rehabilitate Adolf Hitler and Nazism, to rescue Nazi racial doctrine from its stenched association with the Holocaust, and to undermine the moral support for Israel as a result of the world’s revulsion to the Shook.
Hitler has remained a hero among anti-Semites. For example in the Holocaust-denying Christian Identity Movement, with a “church” membership of more than 60,000, Hitler is viewed as a prophet sent to combat the Jews who are believed to be the offspring of the union between Eve and Satan that produced Cain. In the Christian Identity Church and its allied hate groups, such as the White Aryan Resistance, the negative religious stereotype is merged with Nazi social doctrine to produce images of Jews as the head of the conspiracy to weaken White Aryan America through the process of supporting integration, gay rights, the Women’s Movement, and other objectives on the liberal agenda. Hitler, in these circles, is viewed as a great leader who sacrificed his life to defend the purity of the Aryan race. They see the Holocaust as the barrier that prevents Hitler’s rehabilitation, a necessary step if Americans are ever to realize that race-mixing is the greatest threat to America’s survival. This is the theme of the Turner Diaries, the “Bible” of the neo-Nazi movement which refers to the United States government as ZOG or the Zionist Occupation Government. Similarly, by creating doubt about the Holocaust, in hopes of undermining the moral standing of Israel in the world community, the deniers have inadvertently received support from an unexpected source, the Nation of Islam and other black nationalist groups. Black nationalist groups in their attempts to separate American blacks from their traditional allies in the white community have, in particular, focused on black-Jewish relations. For example, the Nation of Islam does not deny the facts of the Holocaust but does diminish its significance when it compares it to the “African Holocaust” of the Atlantic Slave Trade. The intent is to diminish the argument that Jews and blacks have a common bond because of a shared history of suffering. Rather, the rhetoric of black nationalism, like its white anti-Semitic counterparts, emphasizes the image of the Jew as a victimizer of blacks. Deborah Lipstadt, in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, points out,
The central assertion for the deniers is that Jews are not victims but victimizers. They “stole” billions in reparations, destroyed Germany’s good name by spreading the “myth” of the Holocaust and want international sympathy because of what they claimed had been done to them . . . they used the world’s sympathy to “displace” another people so that the state of Israel could be established.
If Professor Lipstadt were to change a few words and instead substituted the lies spread about Jewish involvement in the slave trade, there would be little difference between the remarks of Khalil Muhammed, Louis Farrakhan, and the Holocaust deniers. It is also true, that black nationalists such as Farakhan, would share with Holocaust deniers the view that sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust led to the support of the creation of the State of Israel. It is no coincidence that the Nation of Islam continues to distribute the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Black nationalists, similar to Holocaust deniers, have a strong animus toward the Jewish state.
In this context, Holocaust denial strategy focuses on college campuses where it hopes to find an audience receptive to its message. Its promoters count on reaching future generations of college students whose knowledge of the Holocaust is distant insofar as they have any direct contact with Holocaust survivors or even an interest in the subject. Further-more, Holocaust deniers believe that time is on their side. As witnesses to the Holocaust pass on and the memory of the Shook recedes in memory, the deniers count on presenting their case as simply another point of view, one well within the scholarly tradition of historical revisionism.
In their efforts at gaining respectability, Holocaust deniers have not only hidden their agenda but veiled their associations. Holocaust denial, as a serious enterprise, was founded by Willis Carto, founder of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby and the Institute for Historical Review, which publishes the Journal of Historical Review. The publication presents itself as a scholarly journal and frequently publishes articles unrelated to the Holocaust. Historians, such as David Irving and, on occasion, John Toland, have lent their names to the periodical although most reputable historians have distanced themselves from the publication. Carto, as Irving, has links to many neo-Nazi movements in this country and abroad. Under Carto, the institute has become a clearing-house for Holocaust denying material for the use of anti-Semitic organizations and groups which share the objective of spreading doubt concerning the facts of the Holocaust.
That Holocaust deniers see the Holocaust as the product of the Jewish conspiratorial imagination is undeniable. It is also true that they subscribe to Nazi racial doctrine and view the Jews as guiding an international conspiracy, centered in Israel, which has as its objective the control of the industrialized world. More recently, the Tri-Lateral Commission was charged with being a front for the Jewish conspiracy.
Thus the racist and conspiratorial ideas of the Nazis remain alive and are attempting to undo the results of the Nazi defeat by “proving” that the Holocaust was a myth perpetrated by the Jews’ objectives first outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In their attempt to deconstruct the Holocaust, the deniers focus on three aspects of the Shoah: first, they claim that the Nazis never had a policy or program to exterminate the Jews. David Irving has argued that nowhere is there a “smoking gun,” that is an order issued by Hitler to implement the destruction of European Jewry. Second, they deny that the gas chambers were used for the purpose of murdering Jews. They admit that Jews died in concentration camps but attribute the bulk of these deaths to typhoid. Thirdly, they question whether millions of Jews—let alone six million—were killed by the Nazis or anyone else. Instead, they contend that at a maximum, about 200, 000 Jews were killed and have even argued that the number of Jews still alive after WWII was actually larger than before the war. They further state that the number of Jewish dead included many who were killed by allied bombing attacks.
In light of all the evidence: Nazi documents, the disclosures at the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi photos and films, survivor accounts, confessions of Nazi leaders, memoirs, etc., how is it possible that any intelligent person could possibly doubt the authenticity of the Holocaust, possibly one of the most documented events in history? There are several reasons why Holocaust denial arguments have slowly intruded into the mainstream. They include: acceptance of their ads by some college newspapers, appearances on radio talk shows and sensation-seeking television shows, such as Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera, the use of computer bulletin boards and hosting their own cable talk shows through the use of public free-access cable.
Furthermore, in a controversial recent poll which showed that about 20 percent of the population may be willing to believe that the Holocaust did not occur, that a percentage of the population believes that the moon-landing was staged in a Hollywood studio, and that Kennedy conspiracy theorists have created an industry, the Holocaust deniers believe they have found a potential audience. Holocaust deniers have discovered that there is a receptiveness on the part of a large segment of the public to believe in conspiracy theory as an alternate to the explanations of professional scholars. This propensity to believe conspiracy theory has always existed alongside an educational system that places reason, logic, and the rules of evidence as the core of our understanding of reality. Holocaust deniers feed on an audience’s willingness to accept conspiracy theory much in the same way that people during the Middle Ages accepted the reality of witches and the devil. Historian Marvin Perry describes this as a thought process rooted in myth-making,
Myth-making was humanities first way of thinking. Appealing primarily to the imagination and emotions, not to reason . . . The myth-making mind proclaims a truth that is emotionally satisfying, not one that has been arrived at through intellectual analysis and synthesis.
Despite evidence of a growing rate of literacy and formal education, a large number of people often associate reality with the irrational and are willing to accept conspiratorial explanations for complex events of history (Yalta, “Who lost China?”). The popularity of Senator Joseph McCarthy can be explained in this context inasmuch as he displayed a visceral understanding of how to play on the public’s disposition to accept his conspiratorial explanation of the Cold War.
A current survey of anti-Semitic statements about Jews shows that Holocaust deniers have a huge arsenal on which to draw in their efforts to undermine the public’s acceptance of the Holocaust. The deniers continue to perpetrate the canards of the new anti-Semitism such as,
The Holocaust is a hoax, and gas chambers did not exist The Diary of Anne Frank is a forgery and is promoted by Jews to win sympathy for Israel
they can expect to draw on the support of those who continue to perpetrate or believe the following about Jews:
Jews control the Federal Reserve System
Jews owned 75 percent of Southern slaves
Jewish Hollywood created negative stereotypes of blacks
Jewish doctors infected blacks with AIDS
Jewish teachers intentionally miseducated black children through the public school system
Lubavitch Hasidim in Russia engaged in the ritual murder of several Christian priests
Jews control the media in the United States and dominate it in Russia
Israel is a “Nazi” state
Zionism is racism
Israel’s Law of Return is an example of racism
African-Americans are the real Jews and the so-called Jew
is an imposter
Jews and blacks are the Mud People
Jews are the worst of the Ice People
As absurd as these lies are, there is, nevertheless, a propensity to believe that “where there is smoke, there is fire.”
Possibly, Perry is right in asserting that the myth-making way of perceiving reality is so fixed in the Western tradition that there is little Jews can do to exculpate themselves from their enemies. There appears to be a link that connects the medieval view of Jews with the anti-Semitism of our own time. The religious sensibility may have been replaced by secular ones, but this had made little difference in regard to depicting Jews in mythical terms. Holocaust deniers realize that there is a potentially large audience which, under the right circumstance, will be receptive to their message.
Further reasons for denier optimism about their message getting through has, inadvertently, to do with the popularization of a current fashion in academic criticism known as deconstruction. Brought to the nation’s attention by the case of Paul de Man (himself an apparent Nazi sympathizer in his native Belgium), deconstruction questions not only the reliability of text but also that of memory which is viewed with suspicion as a reliable recreation of the past. Thus in an environment where the subjective agenda of the author becomes the focus of study, Holocaust deniers can reach an audience by challenging the objectivity of the many scholarly works on the Shoah, written primarily by Jewish academics and therefore suspect, as well as the reliability of survivor testimony. Thus, in marketing Holocaust denial, the deniers shrewdly mask their crude anti-Semitism and use the language of the public square where all ideas have equal value and feed on the relativistic view that history is merely a matter of perspective.
Here is Bradly Smith, the media project director for the JHR on an ad he attempted to place in a college newspaper,
No subject enrages campus thought police more than Holocaust Revisionism. We debate every other great historical issue as a matter of course, but influential pressure groups with private agendas have made the Holocaust an exception. . . . Students should be encouraged to investigate the Holocaust story the same way they are encouraged to investigate every other historical event.
To students and faculty unfamiliar with the deceitful tactics of the deniers, their arguments may well be persuasive. It is framed in the language of moderation and, after all, who can be against listening “to another point of view.” The advent of Holocaust denial ads in college newspapers—admittedly often accompanied by an editorial denouncing the deniers —is still viewed as a triumph because they have reached an audience unimaginable only a few years ago.
The abuse of multicultural programs has also indirectly played a role in denial strategy. On some college campuses, the conspiracy theory of history with the Jews at its center is taught as fact. At Wellesley, one professor uses the Nation of Islam’s distortion, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews as a textbook. When accused of perpetuating bigotry in the name of history, the same professor published The Jewish Onslaught, an attack on his critics most of whom, he perceived to be Jewish. At Kean College, Khallid Muhammad, a disciple of Louis Farrakhan, denounced Jews, Catholics, and gays and accused Jews of being “bloodsuckers” and engaging in a conspiracy against blacks. At City University of New York, Leonard Jeffries teaches in his Afro-Centric course that the white man was originally the cold and heartless Iceman who came to Africa to subjugate the Africans. He singles out Jews as the worst of the Icemen in their exploitation of blacks. Rap musician Professor Griff charged at Southern Connecticut State University, that Jewish doctors have injected black babies with AIDS.At Howard University, a law student, Malik Zulu Shabazz, attacked Jews for their control over blacks in the cultural and economic spheres of American life. The Washington Post reported the following from Shabazz’s anti-Semitic rhetoric,
Each time Shabazz noted one of those (areas of Jewish control) he paused to ask the crowd (of mostly students) who controlled it, and the crowd shouted back: “Jews”
It was these Howard students who successfully intimidated the university to postpone a lecture by Professor David Brion Davis of Yale University, a leading authority on the history of slavery. Davis, who is Jewish, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for his book The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture and was invited by the university to give a presentation on the Haitian Revolution. Instead, Howard University officials capitulated to a small and unrepresentative group of students because of their fear that Davis would be verbally assaulted by the same element that applauds the anti-Semitic rhetoric of black nationalism and angrily shout that the “real Holocaust” was the Atlantic slave trade.
All of these now familiar scandals on college campuses occurred in programs which had as their objective the fostering of multicultural understanding. In reality, Khallid Muhammad, Leonard Jeffries, and other purveyors of bigotry have used the campus to create the atmosphere for both anti-Semitism and the acceptance of Holocaust denial theory. After all, if a Tony Martin at Wellesley can use a text that accuses Jews of conspiring in the African-Slave trade, then why can’t Holocaust deniers share their view of a Jewish conspiracy behind the “Holocaust hoax?” The appearance of denier ads in college newspapers and the presence of black nationalist speakers on college campuses is not coincidental. What is happening—and it has been going on for some time—is the slow erosion of “faith” in the rules of evidence and logic on many campuses. It may be too harsh a judgment to blame it on the popularization of deconstruction or historical relativism, but it does appear that there no longer exists a consensus on what constitutes truth and reality. The potential appeal of the deniers is to the same constituency that applauds black nationalists insofar as that they both provide an emotionally satisfying message that satisfies, what Perry calls, the myth-making aspect of our brain seeking facile answers to difficult questions.
As the new anti-Semitism in the form of Holocaust denial and black nationalism intrudes its message on college campuses, the question arises: what can be done? For starters, multicultural programs must not be allowed to fall into the hands of bigots and charlatans. Timid administrators must not hide behind the arguments of free-speech in shirking their responsibility to guard the campus against uncredentialed and bigoted spokesmen who are invited to campus for the express purpose of spreading their message of hate. On too many campuses bigotry and anti-Semitism masquerade under the banner of diversity, while their real objective is to confuse and divide rather than to bring together students of different ethnic backgrounds. We must not ignore multicultural programs but monitor them.
Similarly, we must resist the siren-song of popularized deconstruction theory and reassert the primacy of reason and logic. Holocaust deniers and black nationalists represent an irrational approach to history, and irrational methods of understanding knowledge have no place in academia.
Finally, it is surprising that historians have not made a stronger connection between those who deny the Holocaust and the threat this attack makes on the profession. If, with all of the evidence that envelopes our knowledge of the Holocaust, deniers can still reach an audience, does it not follow that any period or event of history can similarly be challenged? Is there really more documentation on the fall of the Roman Empire than the Holocaust? On the history of the Atlantic Slave trade? On the genocidal treatment of Native Americans? The denial of the Holocaust is, in the last analysis, not only a new form of anti-Semitism but also an attack on the craft of history. Historians must become more vocal in combatting the deniers, if only to protect the profession from liars who view history from the perspective of bigotry.