Hate Ads and Free Speech Journals Don't Have to Accommodate Groups That Deny the Holocaust
Ruth RosenRuth Rosen teaches history of California, Davis., The Christian Science Monitor
DAVID DUKE'S candidacy for president is the product of years of social decline and the not-so-benign-neglect of the plight of desperate Americans. When times get tough, the politics of hate points to scapegoats. In the United States, as well as across Western and Eastern Europe, xenophobia, ethnic rivalries, and racial attacks are on the rise.
Exploiting this climate of fear, organizations like the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) and the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust - whose shared goal is to prove that the Nazi mass murder of Jews never happened - have launched a campaign to win the hearts and minds of America's college students and faculty. This assault on the truth raises questions: Should campus, professional, and intellectual publications publish these groups' announcements and advertisements? Does refusal to do so abridge free speech?
Mark Weber, one of the founders of the Visalia, Calif.-based Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, is a former member of the neo-Nazi National Youth Alliance. He is editor of the newsletter of IHR, which was founded by William Carto, a well-known anti-Semite. Mr. Weber's partner, Bradley Smith, has orchestrated the attempt to blanket campus newspapers with expensive ads claiming to offer "proof" that the Holocaust is a fiction. Ads have run in newspapers at the University of Michigan, Duke University, and Cornell University.
IN another move, the Journal of Historical Review, the official organ of the IHR, published an appeal for scholarly articles in the newsletter of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the nation's most prestigious historical association. Seeking scholarly substantiation for their views, the IHR solicited articles on "FDR's campaign to get the US into war, the background to the Pearl Harbor attack and the treatment of European Jews during World War II."
Publications are not obligated to publish racist or anti-Semitic gibberish that violates the elementary canons of truthfulness. Prof. Joyce Appleby of UCLA, the president of OAH, in an open letter disagreed with the executive committee's decision to print the Journal of Historical Review's ad. She argued: "The First Amendment protects free speech. …