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Argument: Criminalization protects against flood of Holocaust denial ads

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The History Department at Duke University, responding to a CODOH ad, unanimously adopted and published a statement noting: "That historians are constantly engaged in historical revision is certainly correct; however, what historians do is very different from this advertisement. Historical revision of major events. . . is not concerned with the actuality of these events; rather, it concerns their historical interpretation - their causes and consequences generally. There is no debate among historians about the actuality of the Holocaust... there can be no doubt that the Nazi state systematically put to death millions of Jews, Gypsies, political radicals and other people."[1]


David Oshinsky and Michael Curtis of Rutgers University have written, "If one group advertises that the Holocaust never happened, another can buy space to insist that American Blacks were never enslaved. The stakes are high because college newspapers may soon be flooded with ads that present discredited assertions as if they were part of normal historical debate. If the Holocaust is not a fact, then nothing is a fact...."[2]


Peter Hayes, Associate Professor of History and German at Northwestern University, responded to a Smith ad by stating, "[B]ear in mind that not a single one of the advances in our knowledge since 1945 has been contributed by the self-styled 'Revisionists' whom Smith represents. That is so because contributing to knowledge is decidedly not their purpose . . . . This ad is an assault on the intellectual integrity ... of academicians, whom Smith and his ilk wish to browbeat. It is also a throwback to the worst sorts of conspiracy-mongering of anti-Semitic broadside.... Is it plausible that so great and longstanding a conspiracy of repression could really have functioned? ... That everybody with a Ph.D. active in the field - German, American, Canadian, British, Israeli, etc. - is in on it together?... If one suspects it is, might it not be wise to do a bit of checking about Smith, his organization and his charges before running so implausible an ad?"[3]

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