Friday, February 17, 2006

Northwestern University: Serious deterioration - Student editors' minds are so open... their brains fell out

Things at Northwestern have deteriorated markedly. Not in terms of Butz, who is still doing his thing, which is no surprise. The deterioration has come in terms of the student editors of the Daily Northwestern. They have acted in what can only be described as a bizarre manner.

I am NOT referring to the fact that they rejected an article by me, which I have posted below. That’s fine. They might have decided that enough has been said on this matter.

What amazes me is the editorial they posted this a.m. They defended the fact that they published an article by Butz and argued that:

Through the column, The Daily hoped to facilitate a more educated debate over Butz’s beliefs. If the comments on are any indication, that debate has begun. The Daily took considerable care before publishing the column. All the facts used were all verified, even if he drew horrendous, misguided conclusions from them.
Debate over Butz’s beliefs? What these editors don’t seem to get is that these are not “beliefs.” They are documented lies. Don’t take my word on it. Take that of the Royal High Court of Justice and two different Courts of Appeal. Five judges total reviewed the evidence and agreed that David Irving’s arguments – many of which come straight from Butz – are pure distortions and lies.

“All the facts were verified”: What are they talking about? In the article Butz cites Fred Leuchter’s findings that that “the alleged gassings not possible at the alleged sites.” He describes Leuchter as “our foremost execution technologist.”

Leuchter who claimed to be an engineer but is not, was running a scam with different penitentiaries. He told them that if they did not hire him to check their sites he would serve as an expert witness for the condemned person and testify that the execution process at these prisons was faulty.

The Alabama Attorney General [now a Federal judge] warned other states about his scam.

Moreover, Leuchter’s findings were all proven by scientists and forensic specialists to be utterly wrong. Even the lab which did the testing for him said his conclusions are all wrong.

All this information is available in the transcripts of my trial , in Richard Evans Lying about Hitler, Robert Jan van Pelt’s The Case for Auschwitz and in my History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving.

The student editors at the Daily Northwestern have proven themselves to be very irresponsible journalists…. Actually I am not sure we can even call them journalists. They are to journalism as Arthur Butz and David Irving are to history.

If I were a student at Northwestern I would asking, is this group, which is running a newspaper which my fees support, smart enough to be doing the job?

Of them it can be said: Their minds were so open their brains fell out."

This is the article by me that they decided not to print:

Electrical Engineering Professor, Arthur Butz has, after many years of total obscurity in anything but the world of Holocaust deniers, once again grabbed headlines.

Mr. Butz has as much expertise on the history of the Holocaust as I do on building bridges. But he has tenure and this means that, as long as he does not introduce this false information into his classroom, he cannot be fired.

Now Butz claims in the pages of your paper that the reason people are “reluctant to consider the validity” of Holocaust denial is “fear.” Mr. Butz would have you believe that legal obstacles have made impossible for deniers to speak their piece. Rot.

I say this with over six years of legal experience defending myself against David Irving, once the world’s leading Holocaust denier. He sued me for libel for calling him a Holocaust denier in one of my books. He waited until the book appeared in the U.K. where the burden of proof is on the defendant.

I do not believe history belongs in the courtroom. Historians conduct their “battles” in scholarly journals and at conferences. Mr. Irving thought otherwise and due to the nature of British law I had no choice but to defend myself. Had he won, my books would have been pulped and his version of the Holocaust would have been declared legitimate.

Rather than face any legal obstacles, Irving freely repeated his – and by extension Butz’s -- arguments in court. The world press reported on them daily. No one faced any legal obstacles. No one was hauled into court except me.

I was able to mount an aggressive defense thanks to a defense fund which raised 1.75 million dollars [not 6 million as Mr. Irving like to claim. Funny, isn’t it, how he chooses this number?] We hired a dream team of historians to closely examine Irving’s claims about the Holocaust. They found his work to be a “tissue of lies.” Many of Irving’s claims come straight from Butz’s work and from that of other deniers Butz praises in his article in your paper, e.g. Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf.

By the end of my ten week trial Irving was left looking like the Court Jester. He had called the judge “Mein Fuhrer,” a telling slip. When asked by Richard Rampton, my barrister, how he could say that Herman Goring “goggled” at a certain exchange, when there was absolutely no evidence that Goring was even at this meeting, Irving declared: “author’s license.”

On another occasion Irving, whose knowledge of German is
impeccable, attributed a mistranslation that rendered the ominous field ovens – the incineration grids on which the Germans had burned their victims’ bodies – into the utterly benign field kitchens, to the pressure of preparing for the trial at 2am the previous morning.

We pointed out that we had downloaded the same document with the same mistranslation from Irving’s website two years earlier. Irving replied that he had made the same mistake twice. Such things happened daily as Irving’s claims to be a fastidious historian evaporated.

The Judge and two subsequent Courts of Appeal found for me. The judge’s choice of words to describe Irving’s writings about the Holocaust – and by extension Butz’s and his cronies -- were unambiguous: “perverts,” “distorts,” “misleading,” "unjustified,” “travesty,” and “unreal.”

Moreover, the judge wrote in his 350 page judgment that this
“falsification of the historical record was deliberate and ... motivated by a desire to present events in a manner consistent with his own ideological beliefs even if that involved distortion and manipulation of historical evidence.”

In his article in the Forum Mr. Butz engages in linguistic tricks. He claims that Timothy Ryback wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “there is little forensic evidence proving homicidal intent” in the ruins of Auschwitz.” Mr. Butz ignores the other portion of Ryback’s comment regarding Auschwitz: “these heaps of dynamited concrete and twisted steel are not only historic artifacts but among the few remnants of untainted, forensic
evidence of the Holocaust.”

Why do we not enter further into “debate” with him? Because
debating people who deliberately pervert, distort, and mislead is like trying to nail a blob of jelly to the wall. There is no end to the matter. If they have no fidelity to the truth how can you debate them? They just make things up as it suits them

There is much left to learn and study about the Holocaust. When historians find that they have been wrong about something, they revise it.

Our research agenda, however, should not be set by people whose arguments are complete fabrications.

Let the likes of Butz and Irving go on giving paper and making their arguments to neo-Nazis and other deniers. That is their right. Your paper, on the other hand, has no responsibility to print such falsehoods.

And now let them all slip into the obscurity they so well deserve.


Dave said...

They didn't run that story out of devotion to the First Amendment and opposing opinions.

I know college journalists. I was one once. They're all the same: they all hope that as editor of the Canarsie Community College weekly rag, they'll come up with that big exclusive, that super-hot story that puts them on the front page of real daily newspapers and TV news shows, raises controversy, irritates the faculty, annoys their parents, and most importantly, lands them a high-paying job on a newspaper or TV show as an investigative reporter, where they will spend the first half of the show linking politicians to the mob and the second half kissing up to top athletes (or they're female, supermodels).

The guys hope to go PT'ing and partying with a NASCAR driver or basketball player for that portion of the segment, while the girls look forward to getting their nails done with the supermodel and getting her inside story on "female empowerment through bulimia."

It's self-serving careerism, nothing more. Stir up controversy to show what hot-shot, deep-digging journalists they are, so they'll have a great story to show the editor of the first newspaper they apply to for a job.

That's why they're "student journalists." Arrogance and hubris.

And as you know, as a professor, you always have some students in your classes who think they know everything...especially after they take that introductory course.

If you like, I'll take your entire essay and submit it to their web page as a readers' comment.

By the way, some of those readers' comments are more sickening that anything Butz puts out, and say more about Holocaust deniers than any psychological study. I even recognized a couple of the e-mail handles as being guys who have been kicked out of The History Channel's discussion forums for spreading their garbage there.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

When I read your piece, I was tempted to disagree, on the grounds 'let him have his say, and the students and readers wil refute him. And they did point out his conclusions were wrong and horrendous.'

Then I wrote the letters the paper received. 20 letters, 18 of which used anti-Semitic language or code words (2 of which were duplicates). One even referred readers to a speech by William Pierce.

Only two criticizing him or the writers, and one of them by an editor of the paper.

And then you state they refused to run your article.

You were absolutely right in your post. But what is happening at the University? This is seriously scary.

Dave said...

Prup, I'm frightened, too. Frightened that there are so many people out there with such hateful views and ideas, frightened that would-be journalists value sensation and their own career advancement over truth, and frightened that so many people, both these college students and the racists who wrote those letters, are so woefully uneducated.

It's obvious the student-journalists know more about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton than about Auschwitz and Babi Yar, and shame on them. It's even worse that they won't run Deborah's article. They seem to inhabit a universe where there is no morality, no values, no truth, merely varying shades of gray in varying degrees of opposition.

The letters from the neo-Nazis were upsetting and frightening, but they were designed to be. Obviously Bradley Smith or one of his ilk saw the original article (maybe Butz himself or one of his fans), and passed the word over the Internet to like-minded lunatics and Fascists to get on their computer and fire back at Northwestern, to air their propaganda and also make the average reader think that Holocaust denial is more popular and well-regarded than the editors of that newspaper (and readers) think.

It's similar to how neo-Nazi (and other) groups inflate their numbers and influence. To appear as no longer a lunatic fringe, but a viable chunk of like-minded population, on the march and growing.

As we know, outside of Iran and the Arab world, this is not so, thanks to Deborah's battle with Irving.

But they are still capable of causing immense damage on humanity. And the fact that we have such inept, ill-educated, morally bankrupt people running student newspapers is both a result and a symptom.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Yes, Dave, no surprise at the number of neo-Nazis and Deniers sending messages. What shocked me was the lack of any response on the side of truth.

And now the entire university has lost their web pages. Until yesterday, I would have said this was bad, now, I'm afraid, "NGL" (No Great Loss.)

Dave said...

The big problem the truth has in defending itself is that it rests on its own laurels. Liars work very hard to get their points over, because the creation and propagation of a lie requires enormous effort. One has to rewrite, distort, change, edit, obfuscate, question, quibble, sneer, smirk, bamboozle, confuse, forge, create, deny, oppose, and cavil. That takes a lot of work. So liars are by definition, people with enormous energy.

Those who know the truth think that because the truth is such a vast and existing thing -- proven by its mere existence -- it requires no effort to defend itself.

We don't have to make an effort to prove the world is round, or that a year lasts 365 days, or that the King George V-class battleship carried 14-inch guns. Truth, in theory, is beyond dispute and therefore requires little defense.

So I'm not surprised so many people are lying at will for Butz and Hitler. Nor am I surprised no one is speaking up for the truth. It should be self-evident. Liars ensure that it is not.

As for the loss of web pages...I don't think a university should be providing its students and faculty with non-job related web pages in the first place. That's private, non-university business. It would apply to sex chat web pages, other forms of racist web pages, or business-oriented web pages.

The university's web site should be promoting the university and its activities, period. If a student or professor wants to do his own web page, whether it's to post pictures of his or her cat or poems honoring Adolf Hitler, they should turn to a private ISP and do it themselves. It's their work, their lives, not the university's.

Simple solution. Q.E.D.

Stephen Francis said...

"Don’t take my word on it. Take that of the Royal High Court of Justice and two different Courts of Appeal. Five judges total reviewed the evidence..."

Judges are not arbiters of history. Relying on the rule of law to buttress a matter of historical opinion strikes me as a sign of weakness for one's historical opinion.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Stephen: You are right. Judges should not be arbiters of history. I don't believe history belongs the courtroom.

The fact is, however, that David Irving does believe so.

Please note that I did not initiate this lawsuit. David Irving sued me because he was relying on the court to be an arbiter of history.

I defended myself by using historical evidence and by showing that every claim he made about the Holocaust was based on complete bunk.