A truly offensive use of Halloween
But there were no Holocaust denial blogs, at least not as far as I could find--until now.
I became aware of my first actual Holocaust denial blog a few weeks ago. I had debated whether or not to write about it, mainly because I was reluctant to do anything that might raise its profile or increase its Technorati ranking by linking to it, but I think you'll see part of the reason why I decided to write about it and, in particular, why on Halloween. The blog in question is Bradley R. Smith's My Life as a Holocaust Revisionist and his other blog The Holocaust Story. The former is meant to be a more "personal" blog, while the latter is meant to discuss "serious news stories," whatever that means coming from Holocaust deniers. Smith happens to be the director of CODOH (the ironically named "Committee for the Open Debate of the Holocaust"), one of the principle purveyors of Holocaust denial literature in the U.S.
Here is the post that caught my eye:
Announcing the 2nd Annual David McCalden Most Macabre Halloween Holocaust Tale Challenge. The winner gets a $200 cash prize.Included was a link to the contest page:
Pits of boiling human fat? Human soap? Giant "death by steaming" pressure cookers? Fountains of blood squirting from the earth?
Help us find new Holocaust stories you find macabre and ridiculous.
As it turns out, David McCalden was the founder of the Institute for Historical Review and noted for essays such as The Amazing, Rapidly Shrinking "Holocaust." He was also a purveyor of bogus "challenges," famously offering $50,000 for "proof" of the existence of Nazi homicidal gas chambers. A Holocaust survivor by the name of Mel Mermelstein accepted the challenge and the IHR reneged on the offer. Mermelstein went to court and won a $90,000 settlement, as the court concluded that he had met the terms of the challenge.The winner will receive a $200 cash prize; second place will receive a $50 cash prize. Entries are to be judged on four factors:
- Originality (search our site before entering),
- The macabre nature of the tale,
- Citation of the source(s) where the tale or claim has appeared, and
- The use of the tale in official Holocaust histories. (Receive added points if your submission was used in a court of law.)The contest deadline is Saturday, October 30, 2005. You may enter as many times as you wish, but there will be only one winning entry per person. Each contest entry is subject to verification. The winners will be announced on Sunday, October 31, 2005 (Halloween).
The prize is in honor of skeptic and founder of the Institute for Historical Review, David McCalden. All submissions become the property of the Holocaust Historiography Project, and may be published on this website.
Let's make David proud!
Apparently, making fun of stories from the Holocaust would apparently have made McCalden proud (he's been dead 15 years). McCalden, like many Holocaust deniers, liked to paint himself as a "skeptic," but in reality he was selective about his skepticism. Holocaust deniers love to search for dubious survivor stories to debunk. That such stories exist is not surprising, given the magnitude of the Holocaust, the number of people involved, and the trauma many of the survivors lived through. Given human nature, one would expect that some fraction of eyewitness testimony would be questionable or false. Given human nature, one also would expect that some survivors would have incomplete memories; that some might exaggerate some stories for attention or for whatever other reason; or that some would be mistaken about some events that occurred at the camps. Deniers love to debunk a few dubious witness' stories with great gusto and flourish, by implication claiming that a few examples of false or erroneous "eyewitness testimony" somehow "prove" that the Holocaust didn't happen or that it was of a much smaller magnitude than the commonly accepted history. Of course, they happily ignore the bulk of the overwhelming evidence, including (but not limited to) eyewitness testimony, the testimony and writings of the Nazis themselves, physical evidence, etc., showing that the Nazis did indeed conceive and impliment a genocidal plan to exterminate European Jewry and others they considered racial "undesirables."
Holocaust deniers also like to make a lot of hay over misconceptions that lay people might have about various specific aspects of the Holocaust and like to attack such misunderstandings with similar gusto, like cranks attacking a straw man. Bradley Smith also got my attention doing this, as he apparently noticed the same photoessay about Dachau by Pundit Guy that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. He makes a great point of attacking PunditGuy's photos of the gas chambers there:
First, the USHMM does leave visitors with the impression that there was a Nazi gas chamber at Dachau. For what it's worth, they appear to be trying to square the circle on this issue. Its website states: There is no credible evidence that the gas chamber in Barrack X was used to murder human beings. If they were more forthright, it would of course state that there is no credible evidince that there was a Nazi gas chamber at Dachau, as virtually no serious historian now maintains that there was such a construct at Dachau.
Second, PunditGuy has become so steeped in Holocaust "knowledge" from the media's daily pounding of the Holocaust drum that he no longer knows why he knows what he thinks he knows about the Holocaust, and turning to the high priests of the Holocaust myth is not the way to get straight information.
Ironically, this type of muddled thinking seems worse among the "elite" such as PunditGuy (my dictionary defines "pundit" as "an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public"). If you ask the average person about Dachau or the Holocaust, you get pretty vague answers. Most persons just don't care. But self-appointed experts -- hey, they've seen Schindler's List! -- cling to Holocaust falsehoods as if they were life itself.
Holocaust deniers use such obfuscations and rhetorical tricks because they don't have the evidence on their side. And, when their obfuscations won't fly, they reveal their true stripes, either by letting their anti-Semitism show or by using crude and tasteless mockery of the dead such as the "Halloween Holocaust tale challenge" Smith seems so pleased with himself about. No wonder Smith doesn't allow comments on his blog.