The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response/carnegie-melon.001

Subject: CODOH's paid advertisements: Carnegie-Melon
Summary: Carnegie-Melon "Tartan" addresses CODOH's "The Case for Open
         Debate" advertisement (April, 1992)
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Distribution: world
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac
Keywords: CODOH,Carnegie-Melon

Archive/File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response carnegie-melon.001
Last-Modified: 1994/02/15

With the recent CODOH ad campaign underway (the ad denegrates the new
Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C., and has been published to
the net more than once by Dan Gannon, the owner and operator of the neo-Nazi
bulletin board system known as "b-cpu," I thought it might be worthwhile to
provide this year's new users with some academic response to both the recent
ad and the previous one.

Archive/File: holocaust/codoh cmelon.001
Last-Modified: 1993/10/24

The following article appeared in the 20 April, 1992 issue of _The
Tartan_, Carnegie Mellon's student newspaper:


By Jennifer Forbes (Tartan Copy Manager) and M.K. Rodgers (Tartan
Managing Editor)

     In recent months, many college newspapers across the country hav
received an advertisement from the Committee for Open Debate on the
Holocaust (CODOH).  This committee, which consists of Bradley R. Smith,
the ad's author, and three regional directors, Andrew Allen, David Cole,
and Robert Countess, states that the purpose of CODOH is to "inform the
American public, and specifically college students and others in
academia, of the 'other side' of the Holocaust story."
     The ad, the text of which is a lengthy essay by Smith, entitled
"The Holocaust Controversy:  the Case for Open Debate," which basically
attempts to refute the existence of the Holocaust.  Espousing the idea
of revisionist history, which encourages historians to question past
events in light of new or changing material, CODOH claims that the
evidence supporting the Holocaust has been exaggerated or is false.
     "The ad is anti-Semitic as well as historically inaccurate," said
Mark Weitzman, the associate director of educational outreach at the
Simon Wiesenthal Center.  He contends that certain aspects of the
Holocaust are debateable, but its existence is incontrovertible.
     Statements such as "no execution gas chambers existed in any camp
in Europe which ws under German control," can be found in the ad's text.
     The essay also disputes the validity of the photographs taken at
the concentration camps, and the papers that document the Nazi policy of
Jewish extermination.  In addition, the advertisement contends that he
eyewitness testimony is unreliable.  It says that the generally accepted
number of Jewish people killed, 6 million, is far too high.
     The argument also claims that the viewpoint expressed by CODOH is
unpopular because there is a "taboo" on questioning the validity of the
Holocaust.  Smith said, "Ther is an irrational prohibition against
expression of doubt [about the Holocaust]."
     Smith, who holds a high school diploma, admits that the ad is "not
scholarly work."  He said, "Every generation revises the history of the
generation before.  This is nothing unique or unusual....There's a taboo
against criticizing the documents about the Holocaust."
     Most people would dispute Smith's claims.  Peter Stearns, head of
the History Department, said, "This is a political
move, not a scholarly one.  Ther is no serious historical question that
millions of Jews were killed in World War II -- deliberately."  Stearns
said the term of revisionist history can be understood as historians
questioning dominant interpretations of events or fact in light of new
material.  "[They] use the term correctly, but there is no other
material in this case.
     "The ad has no validity.  No respectable historian would think it
has any."  Stearns knew of no legitimate research that could support any
of Smith's claims, and offered the fact that new records are surfacing,
especially in the former USSR, which indicate that the number murdered
is much higher than 6 million.  THe advertisement appears to be "an
effort by [CODOH] to find a way to discredit and attack Jews," said
     Rabbi Joseph H. Levine, director of B'nai B'rith Hillel at CMU, who
teaches two courses on the Holocaust at CMU, called the ad and its
claims "a desecration to the memory of those who perished."  Levine said
that the ad uses a type of circular logic to make itself appear
legitimate.  "To throw into doubt a tragedy that is so massively
documented compounds the tragedy," said Levine.
     The ad has stirred up controversy on the college campuses that it
has reached.  Many student newspapers have refused to run the ad in any
form.  Others have run it as an advertisement or an editorial piece,
some have written editorials on it, and others have done both.
     Duke printed the piece as and advertisement.  Northwestern and
Cornell have run the ad in some form.  Rutgers ran the essay ans an
editorial piece and surrounded it with rebuttals.  Harvard, Yale, Brown,
University of Pennsylvania, and University of Southern California have
refused to run the ad.
     "I don't understand why the ad is so controversial on campuses
where free exchange of ideas would be taken for granted," said Smith. 
He also said that he has heard from the college papers that the
Holocaust cannot be debated and that he does not understand why it as an
historical event cannot be questioned.
     Many student newspapers reserve the right to refuse any
advertisement.  Some have not run the ad citing the historical
inaccuracies.  Others decided not to run it because they felt that it is
not a free-speech issue.  Some who ran the ad felt that it was the
newspaper's duty to inform the campus community of these types of
opinions.  Karen Kaplan, the executive editor of the _MIT Tech_,
explained that the did not run the ad, but did write an editorial column
about it because, "It's not open debate, it's propoganda."
     Even when "The Holocaust Controversy:  the Case for Open Debate"
has been sent to all the colleges and universities on CODOH's list,
Smith won't be finished.  According to staffers of the Harvard _Crimson_
and Duke's _The Chronicle, a second ad by CODOH has begun to make the

(A few notes on Peter Stearns' background:  bachelor's, master's, and
Ph.D degrees from Harvard University, 39 books in print, Founder and
Editor-in-Chief of the _Journal of Social History_, Editor of the
_Encyclopedia of Social History_, and Heinz Professor of History. 
Professor Stearns was just named as the new Dean of the College of
Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon.)

Originally posted by:
Allan Bourdius [(|)K(-)/USMCR]

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