Thursday, November 15, 2007

Denying the Holocaust and the Reality of 9/11

Based on a recommendation from a reader, I recently picked up and read "Denying the Holocaust" by Emory Religious Studies Professor Deborah Lipstadt. Now we have spoken before on the overlap of Holocaust and 9/11 deniers (no, that does not mean every 9/11 truther is an anti-Semite, but they certainly have their representation) but I was struck by the sheer number of similarities between the two movements. This began even from the first page of the preface where the author mentions that a poll showed 22% of Americans believed it was possible the Holocaust never happened. Kind of puts all of those truther polls in perspective.

The similarities do not end there, the deniers of different sorts share so many techniques and logical fallacies that in many ways they are interchangeable but for the specifics of the subject matter. Some examples:

Ideology

Holocaust deniers, while they may claim to be interested in historical accuracy always have a hidden agenda. It may not always be the same, they range from pure anti-Semites to Germans angry about their countries past, but they have them. How many times have you heard some truther start talking about "faster than the speed of gravity" and before you know it they are ranting about police states and the upcoming invasion of Iran.

A Pretense to Scholarship

The truthers have their Journal of 9/11 Studies, the Holocaust Deniers have the Journal for Historical Review. One minor difference though, the Holocaust Deniers have actually tried to get legitimate historical journals to publish their work. They were unsuccesful of course. The 9/11 quacks, to the best of my knowledge, have never even bothered.

Anomaly Hunting

With their bizarre logic the Holocaust deniers search for any inconsistency in any testimony or evidence as proof that the entire story is false. The troofers... well, just watch Loose Change 1 through 4 for all the examples of that you will need.

Desire for Acceptance

Both groups eagerly try for acceptance and recognition, going by the belief that all publicity is good. The author incidently, although she is a leading scholar in this area, refuses to debate Holocaust Deniers, feeling that giving them a platform and a pretense to legitimacy outweighs the educational benefit. In many ways I would have to agree with her.

Quote Mining and Incestous Claims

This quotation from page 106 of the book, could be made about most truther claims I have seen:

This liberal borrowing was not something out of the ordinary for deniers, who make it a practise to draw on other deniers not only for their sources but for verification. They have long engaged in what has been described as an "incestous merry-go-round [of] cross-fertilizing and compounding [of] falsehood.

"Research" as Publicity

Willis Carto, the guy who is helping sponser the conference that the Loose Change Boys are attending this weekend, once offered $50,000 to anyone who could "Find a Holocaust Victim". Carto actually ended up owing a bunch of money to one of those Holocaust victims (made into a TV movie starring Leonard Nimoy no less) but Jimmy Walter just gave up on his million dollar challenge.

Claims of Censorship

A man named Bradley Smith began running ads in college newspapers questioning the Holocaust, merely to cause a controversy. Whenever he was turned down he would scream that legitimate academic research was being censored. Just go over to 911 Blogger and count the screams of "censorship" just because they are not the lead for that nights episode of the evening news.

Standards of Evidence

Thousands of witnesses don't mean anything because they are Zionist shills. Vague speculation is more proof than that. Need I say more?

Cui Bono?

One of the arguments that Al Qaeda did not carry out 9/11 was that they did not benefit from it. Likewise, Holocaust Deniers have (and I was stunned by this idiocy) claimed that the Nazis would never have murdered millions of Jews, because they did not benefit from it. Their war machine could have used those resources better. Of course both of these are offensive and ignore the ideology behind the respective movements.

On the whole a fascinating book, albeit about a disgusting topic. Anyone who is concerned about the hijacking of our history by self-serving bigots, would be served by reading it.

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