The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response/msu.004

Subject: CODOH's paid advertisements: Michigan State (4/4)
Summary: Another letter to the editor address CODOH's advertisement regarding
         the Holocaust Memorial museum in Washington, D.C.
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Distribution: world
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac
Keywords: CODOH

Given Dan Gannon's promotion of Bradley Smith and his desire to provide a
"journal" for the discussion of Holocaust issues, it is fitting that I
should have received an  op ed piece from Michigan State which relates
to Mr. Smith, his organization CODOH, and Holocaust denial.

Archive/File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response msu.004
Last-Modified: 1993/10/21

_The State News_ of Michigan State University
Thursday, October 21, 1993

	 by Dr. Peter Levine - Professor of History and acting director
		of Jewish Studies Program
	and Mark Freed - Program assistant for Jewish Studies Program

	On Oct. 15, The State News printed an advertisement purporting
to represent a "revisionist's view of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum." ["A Revisionist's View of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
in Washington D.C." by the Committee for Open Debate On the Holocaust -
CODOH]  On the surface, its absurd assertions that the Holocaust is
historical fiction does not deserve rebuttal.  But the language
employed in the advertisement and its appearance in The State News do.
	Assertion that something did not happen, by any standard of
historical scholarship, is not revisionism as historians understand
the term.  Revisionism concerns the interpretation of what actually
happened; it does not dispute whether or not it happened but rather
what the causes or consequences of it might have been.  Duke
University historians, responding to publication of this same
advertisement in their school paper, put it this way:  "Scholars may
discuss detail and nuisance but there can be no doubt that the Nazi
state systematically put to death millions of Jews, Gypsies, political
radicals and other people."
	They went on to add that the "revisionism" in this
advertisement "is not meant to rectify an historical error, rather,
its aim is to dirt Jews and to demean and demonize them."
	Which brings us to the issue of the appearance of this
advertisement in The State News.  On Oct. 18, the editor in chief of
The State News apologized for any pain its publication caused but
defended the right to print it as a first amendment issue.  While
acknowledging the as was a lie, the editor explained that The State
News decided to print it because anyone "had the right to purchase
space in the paper."
	Rights and obligations, however, are not the same thing.  The
fact that these anti-Semites have a "right" to free speech does not
obligate The State News to publish anti-Semitic material against their
judgement -- against their stated belief that the ad is historically
inaccurate and ethically malicious.  Other school newspapers, when
faced with a similar decision whether to publish the same
advertisement, chose not to do so.
	The State News, like any another newspaper, is not obligated to
accept every advertisement that comes its way, even if the money is
paid in advance.  For example, regulations forbid it, according to its
own advertising department, from accepting advertisements for tobacco
and alcohol, presumably because of the product's potential damage to
	In the future, if The State News has any doubts about the
potential damage racist falsehoods and list might have on its readers,
hopefully it will check out the facts and consider the full
ramifications of its decision before making it.
	All language use is charged with ethical implications.
Becoming conscious of the ethical import of the things we say -- and
print -- will do more to create a benevolent and just community than
all the "boutique of multiculturalism" that now passes with us for
ethical concern.
Followups directed to alt.revisionism

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