Taboos of Holocaust deniers

Holocaust deniers often make the claim that it is "taboo" to discuss the "real" story of the Holocaust (by which they mean their version, in which Hitler didn't really intend to kill millions of Jews, where the "real" number of Jews killed was supposedly much lower than the 5-6 million whom evidence shows to have been killed in the Holocaust, where there were no homicidal gas chambers and the gas chambers there were used only for "delousing"). They love to claim the mantle "free inquiry" and "intellectual freedom." It's rare that they admit to "taboos" of their own, but Bradley Smith did just that on his blog the other day:
Revisionists have our own taboos. It is taboo to criticize the published writings or statements of revisionists who admire Hitler and the Hitlerian regime. It is taboo to publicly question the racialist arguments of specific revisionists. Taboo to argue publicly against the anti-semitism that exists among revisionists. It is not that we cannot do it, or occasionally do not do it, but we understand that when we do we will break the taboo against doing it, and we’ll suffer the consequences.
The consequences being, I guess, that their fellow Holocaust "revisionists" will get upset at being labeled what they truly are. Of course, given the association between the Holocaust denial movement and far right wing hate groups, the "consequences" of "breaking the taboo" could conceivably include physical violence. Perhaps that's why Smith didn't name any Holocaust denier names in his conveniently general statements about this taboo.

Of course, the reason it is taboo for Holocaust deniers to criticize their fellow Holocaust deniers for such beliefs is because virtually all Holocaust deniers are at least anti-Semites at heart, with some of them falling into the "Holocaust didn't happen but the Jews deserved it" brand of Holocaust denial. A not insignificant proportion of deniers do admire Hitler and the Nazi regime. And certainly some of them harbor white nationalist beliefs that drive their Holocaust denial. Granted, just harboring anti-Semitic beliefs that lead you to deny or downplay the Holocaust because you think "the Jews" are taking advantage of it to gain sympathy, suppress Palestinian aspirations, make money, etc., is a far cry from Nazi-ism or white nationalism, being of the same cloth of conspiratorial thinking everywhere, just with Jews as the source of the "conspiracy." But since Holocaust deniers are virtually all at least anti-Semites and consider themselves besieged on all sides, it is not surprising that they would be reluctant to criticize their fellow travelers for what are simply more extreme versions of what they themselves believe, much less to criticize them for anti-Semitic beliefs they share. In addition, the more clever Holocaust deniers try very hard to hide their anti-Semitism and insist they are "scholars" only interested in "correcting myths" about the Holocaust; they don't like their less discrete fellows openly voicing what underlies their own "revisionism" and undermining their attempts to hide the anti-Semitic core of Holocaust denial.

I will give Mr. Smith some small credit, though. At least he admits that there are anti-Semites, white nationalists, and Nazi sympathizers in the Holocaust denial movement. (He just doesn't consider himself one of them.) Most Holocaust deniers will try to claim that they are only interested in the "truth," that (according to them, at least) those nasty Jews (or, as Holocaust deniers prefer to call them, "Zionists") don't want you to know. To them, it's, "Nope, no anti-Semites or racists here." Smith has just openly admitted that there are indeed anti-Semites and racists there. He just can't admit that the whole enterprise of Holocaust denial is based on anti-Semitism.


  1. "Of course, given the association between the Holocaust denial movement and far right wing hate groups, the "consequences" of "breaking the taboo" could conceivably include physical violence."

    So does that mean that the extreme right is the only extreme end of the spectrum that may be prone to violence if you do not conform? What about PETA? For every militia group out there, there is an equally extreme environmental/let's all share everything group out there. In fact, I would say that the only real difference between the extreme left and extreme right is the rhetorical garbage they both are prone to shoving down our throats. The tactics are all the same, though.
    But you're pretty level-headed, usually, Orac, so I'm willing to say that you just got so excited about your post that you slipped. :o)

  2. Why on earth would he bother adding in some sort of disclaimer in the above post? The fact that PETA is run by whackjobs has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    Also: "For every militia group out there, there is an equally extreme environmental/let's all share everything group out there."

    No. There are plenty of stupidly extreme leftist groups out there, but they don't tend to (a) carry firearms or (b) be prone to violence if you do not conform. If you think there are, you're living in fair-and-balanced denial.

    Of course, one of the reason extreme leftist groups tend to be less extreme than extreme rightist ones is that the mainstream in North America (especially in America itself) is skewed so far towards conservatism that when both sides are equidistant from the middle, the left winds up more moderate than the right.

  3. Uh, I think Moldylord just accused Orac of Lefist bias... Heh heh...

  4. I was about to say something along the lines of what Ian said, with one quibble. (I couldn't do it until I got home from work, however.)

    Why on earth would I mention violent leftist extremism in the context of my post's subject matter? It's just not germane. Do I have to mention leftist extremists every time I slap down Holocaust deniers? Do I have to mention neo-Nazis any time I decide to write about PETA? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but your comment just exasperated me.

    I've mentioned some of the foolishness of PETA before. I'm also aware that there are violent elements of the animal rights movement. In fact, that's where I would quibble with Ian. It's not true that animal rights activists aren't prone to violence to achieve their ends. In fact, a prominent spokesperson for the whole PETA/animal rights movement has openly stated that the assassination of scientists who do animal research is an acceptable tactic to him. True, most of their violence thus far has been property and the use of violent tactics designed to intimidate, rather than kill, people working for companies doing animal research (such as grave desecration and the stealing of human remains), but give them time. The rhetoric is there.

    If you want more, a good source for the sometimes violent tactics of animal rights extremists is Brian O'Connor's Animal Crackers.


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