Sender: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 17:26:51 -0800
Anniken Davenport wrote:
- On the other hand, I fear
whether the average citizen (here or elsewhere in the
world) has the analytic ability and historical
perspective to critically evaluate propaganda for what
it is. This was brought home to me recently when the
student newspaper at the small liberal arts college
where I teach began debating whether they should run
an "advertorial" by Bradley Smith and his so-called
Committee on Open Debate of the Holocaust. Should the
paper publish it and open the debate, trusting the
readership has the ability to recognize a ridiculous
claim for what it is? Or should the "ad" be rejected
for publication? The paper's apparent solution is to
take a poll of the readership before deciding on a
course of action.
It strikes me as itself ridiculous (and cowardly) to
be afraid of the ridiculous. I have heard far-off echoes
of this banging at the doors and I do wonder if it won't
get louder the longer it doesn't go away all by itself.
People who are uninformed are naturally curious to know
what the noise is about. I think the editors should take
the "advertorial" (whatever that is) and accept some
responsibilty for beginning to smarten up the public
level of discourse after decades of dumbing it down.
This may have been debated exhaustively on list, and
if so, pardon my late-comer remarks.... By calling the
Revisionists "Deniers" one draws attention to oneself as
a "Believer" - since one cannot deny a fact, only a
claim, or a faith.
You can dispute a fact, but you cannot deny it. By
using the verb deny, one calls in question the linguistic
suitability of "fact". I suspect that this ensconcement,
this refusal to fight in public, may be seen to betray
uncertainty and doubt.
A while ago Prof. [Deborah] Lipstadt
explained her refusal to debate with Deniers by saying:
"Would YOU debate with a Flat-Earther?" She may not have
realised that her very indignation and the intemperate
nature of her emotions could lay her listeners open to
wondering if she were not the Flat-Earther. That's just
an observation on how people read between the lines.
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