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Chomsky And IHR.

with 43 comments

I hold an exceedingly low opinion of Noam Chomsky, but even I was shocked to read this on the History News Network:

“…From at least 1984 through 1992, [Noam] Chomsky corresponded with a man who, during those time periods, was one of the leading authors and editors in the Holocaust denial movement. And it was a very friendly correspondence, complete with praise for the denier’s work, and an offer of assistance on Chomsky’s part.

The denier in question is L.A. “Lou” Rollins. At the time of the first Chomsky correspondence, Rollins was a writer and contributing editor at the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), the North American headquarters of Holocaust denial and Nazi literature. And although the IHR has, in the past two decades, attempted to reinvent itself as a “respectable” Holocaust denial institute by eschewing clumsy, vulgar anti-Semitism in favor of pseudo-academic “historiography,” back in 1984 there was no subtlety in the IHR’s presentation. The publishing arm of the IHR sold such titles as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the “pro-Hitler” reprint of “Mein Kampf,” “The Testament of Adolf Hitler,” “The International Jew,” “The Turner Diaries,” KKK leader David Duke’s autobiography “My Awakening,” and various anti-Semitic and white supremacy booklets and leaflets. Contributors to the IHR included former SS Standartenführer Leon Degrelle, and former Nazi General Otto Ernst Remer….

It is against this backdrop that Chomsky and Rollins corresponded. In the first of the recently uncovered letters, Chomsky expresses happiness that Rollins was able to find Chomsky’s anti-Israel book “The Fateful Triangle” useful in his work. Chomsky tells Rollins that he’s pleased to hear that he (Rollins) is writing about Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who Chomsky proceeds to call “one of the major frauds of our time.” He compares Wiesel to Nazi collaborators, and accuses him of “exploiting the Holocaust to justify oppression and murder.”

Chomsky promises to send Rollins “news clippings from the Jewish press” to assist him with his anti-Wiesel screed (Rollins’ Chomsky-assisted essay would appear in the fall 1985 edition of the IHR’s “journal”).

Chomsky closes by writing, “I’m looking forward to hearing more about your study.”

Still, I find it hard to believe.

Rollins certainly is connected to the IHR, as this cached extract from one of his articles shows:

“About the author

L.A. ROLLINS is a Contributing Editor of the IHR Newsletter. He has also written for other publications, including Reason, New Libertarian, Critique, Spotlight and The JHR. He is the author of The Myth of Natural Rights.”

Anyone unfamiliar with the Institute for Historical Review should look up David Irving.

Then imagine two dozen plus active Holocaust deniers much worse than him, hard core racist types, embittered cranks and semi-professional antisemites, imagine that and you’ll only have scratched the surface. This is what the SPLC says about them:

“IHR’s first annual conference in 1979 attracted deniers from around the world and helped to introduce some key American extremists to Holocaust denial. David Duke, the neo-Nazi who was then the national leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was so taken with the idea that he followed up the conference with a “Special Holocaust Edition” of his Crusader newspaper. In the same way, National Socialist Party of America leader Frank Collin enthusiastically embraced denial, saying, “There was no Holocaust, but they deserve one — and will get it.” For years, IHR’s yearly conferences were key events that offered networking opportunities for neo-Nazis and anti-Semites from around the world.

A critical contribution by IHR was the pseudo-academic gloss it applied to its anti-Semitism. The group actively tried to avoid blatant anti-Jewish slurs, and instead sought to couch its politics in distortions of history and science meant to sound reasonable. Though the theories that resulted were far out, they had at least the appearance of legitimacy, as did The Journal of Historical Review that the IHR began to publish in 1980. Deniers would claim, for example, that the Anne Frank diary is a fraud because it contained marks made with a postwar ballpoint pen (they didn’t mention that the marks were made later by Frank’s father, who survived German concentration camps to edit and publish the diary). They would assert that the death-camp ovens were not capable of burning as many bodies as the Allies had said were disposed of after gassing. They lied about the qualities of the Zyklon B gas used to kill Jews, the operation of the Einsatzgruppen (the mobile killing squads which shot to death more than 1 million Jews in Eastern Europe), and hundreds of other facts. Through it all, IHR sought to give the appearance that its writers were honest, if skeptical, students of history. “

The IHR are really nasty people with a pro-Nazi agenda, who seek to rehabilitate National Socialism and Hitler’s reputation.

They should be avoided at all costs, I can’t imagine why Chomsky would even think of corresponding with these neo-Nazis?

Update 1: A reminder to new readers please READ, re-read and make an effort to understand my comments policy.

Postings from fans of the IHR or their neo-Nazi mates will remain in the moderation queue until the end of time.

Oh, any fans of Chomsky should read Pierre Vidal-Naquet: On Faurisson and Chomsky before they consider posting.

Update 2: A PDF exists of the correspondence here.

Update 3: Even some of Chomsky’s fans are unhappy:

“Shameful (#146927)
by Helena Kaplan on February 11, 2011 at 1:31 PM

I like a lot of Chomsky’s work, but I can’t make excuses for him on this one. By 1984, he knew exactly what those nuts were all about (especially because people had been alerting him ever since he spoke out for Faurisson in 1979). This is a shameful episode in his life. “

43 Responses

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  1. Have you read Partners in Hate?
    http://www.wernercohn.com/Chomsky.html

    Joseph

    14/02/2011 at 18:22

  2. Yes, I have but thought he over-egged the case a bit.

    eg. Pierre Guillaume might be an antisemite, but he’s not a neo-nazi, more a lefty nihilist, etc

    I think you have to be careful what you say and not indulge in linguistical inflation.

    modernityblog

    14/02/2011 at 19:01

  3. Considering the original source, I’m skeptical that this is both true and unvarnished. However, I don’t find it implausible. For want of a more clinical term, moral idiocy is the principle underpinning Chomsky’s political endeavors, and the Faurisson Affair shows where that leads.

    John-Paul Pagano

    14/02/2011 at 20:00

  4. Same here, J-P, but I wouldn’t put such stupidity past Chomsky.

    His ego is bigger than Mars and he might not have seen anything wrong with corresponding with a neo-Nazi type?

    modernityblog

    14/02/2011 at 20:06

  5. Quintessentially, Chomskey wouldn’t see anything wrong with corresponding with a neo-Nazi type if it advanced his particular anti-Zionist ends (and the correspondence remained out of the public eye).

    John-Paul Pagano

    14/02/2011 at 20:17

  6. Sorry, typo: Chomsky

    John-Paul Pagano

    14/02/2011 at 20:17

  7. Point, J-P,

    Just in, a PDF of the letters exist, I have updated the main post.

    modernityblog

    14/02/2011 at 20:19

  8. No revelation concerning Chomsky’s behaviour surprises me. He surrounds himself with an air of infallibility greater than that of the Pope, so that one more aberration is neither here nor there. If confronted with this material, he will, as always, deflect criticism by casting aspersions on the opponent.

    Abtalyon

    15/02/2011 at 09:33

  9. [...] Left-right convergence: Gene on Ron Paulism at the Conservative Political Action Conference; Paul Stott on Truthism and Bilderbergism at the Birmingham Central Mosque; Modernity on Chomsky’s dalliances with denialism. [...]

  10. “Historical Revisionism”
    Noam Chomsky
    March 31, 1992

    You asked several questions about the Institute of Historical Review (IHR). I have heard of it, but know virtually nothing about it.

    http://www.chomsky.info/letters/19920331.htm

    Chomsky clearly had no idea whom he was corresponding with.

    Chomsky expresses contempt for those who, in the name of criminalizing Holocaust denial,

    “give maximum publicity to far-out nuts whose views are bitterly condemned with remarkable unanimity and fervour, and who would, in fact, be unknown if it were not for the vast attention lovingly lavished upon them.”

    Why would he write that to one of those self-same nuts if he knew he was writing to one?

    Clearly he didn’t know, moreover it’s part of far-right subterfuge to masquerade as ‘others’ as it gets them past censors, hostile opposition etc. They hope to elicit goodies which they can exploit.

    Why help them?

    the_last_name_left

    21/02/2011 at 12:03

  11. “I have heard of it, but know virtually nothing about it.”

    Then possibly it would be a good idea to research them?

    I find that if someone is going to be on the Left (or opposed to neo-fascism, etc) that it makes sense for them to research and understand the Extreme Right, in much the same way that a carpenter knows what a hammer is for

    Where **precisely** does Chomsky say he doesn’t know who he’s talking/writing to ?

    Surely it incumbent on anyone halfway sensible to work out who they are corresponding with?

    More so if you’re the foremost intellectually and the world, in other words ignorance is no excuse.

    modernityblog

    21/02/2011 at 15:07

  12. He says the same thing in the letters he has said elsewhere.

    Why must he know to whom he is speaking?

    What exactly does he say that you find problematic?

    Do you research everyone you write to? Don’t be so silly.

    the_last_name_left

    21/02/2011 at 18:35

  13. “possibly it would be a good idea to research them?”
    —-

    why? Should he have researched every organisation in existence just in case he ended up writing to one of its members?

    I’d be furious if there was anything to be concerned about here. But there isn’t, so I’m not.

    the_last_name_left

    21/02/2011 at 18:39

  14. Sorry, I am not getting your point concerning Chomsky.

    Yes, Chomsky, as a scholar, should be aware of the people he exchanges his views with, it is an elementary precaution.

    modernityblog

    21/02/2011 at 20:11

  15. Granted, it would have prevented embarassment such as this. However, I think it’s unrealistic to expect him to investigate everyone he corresponds with, along with any organisations they work for. Practically, how exactly would he go about finding out whom each person writing to him was? This is before the ‘net too, remember? Chomsky is renowned for the quantity of his letter-writing, his propensity to reply to who writes him. Clearly it is ridiculous to expect him to investigate every writer before deciding to reply – why should he? Better to just reply honestly and be judged on the contents, else he’d be a detective not a political activist.

    Fact is, Chomsky totally repudiates Holocaust denial, as he makes clear in one of his letters to this ‘prominent’ Holocaust denier.

    What exactly is your problem with this? That C was unaware he was writing to a *relatively* prominent Holocaust denier?

    Couldn’t have anything to do with C’s wider political positions and eminence, could it? lol

    the_last_name_left

    21/02/2011 at 20:44

  16. “Chomsky totally repudiates Holocaust denial, ”

    Yeah, of course, he does, which is why he characterised a practising Holocaust denier as “a relatively apolitical liberal “?

    That is why he associated with people in France who were active pushing Holocaust denial? Look up Serge Thion, and La Vieille Taupe, etc

    Now you might not know anything about Faurisson, but I *do* suggest that you research it before replying, read the work of Pierre Vidal-Naquet (I provided a link in the post) and, please, do make an effort to read my comments policy.

    Please, do some research.

    modernityblog

    21/02/2011 at 20:57

  17. Already familiar, thanks.

    You still haven’t said what your problem with all this is.

    What exactly is your problem with all this?

    Please, be clear?

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 00:18

  18. What is my problem with this?

    Self-evidently, I’m against anyone giving credence to Holocaust deniers.

    That’s what Chomsky does, that’s what he did, and he still can’t admit his mistake.

    I also suggest that you read some of my previous posts on Chomsky.

    There is a search bar on the top righthand side of the home page.

    modernityblog

    22/02/2011 at 00:55

  19. And how am I remotely pushing at your posting guidelines?

    I spend time rebutting Holocaust denial, I do what I can to expose fascism: I am no Nazi. Visit my blog?

    If I felt Chomsky was at all dallying with Holocaust denial, or giving credence to any deniers, I’d be furious with him, fwiw.

    He clearly thinks it is beneath him, or anyone else, to engage with them. His position seems to be clear – they should be allowed to say what they wish, but it should be opposed; he needn’t be familiar with it.

    C wrote:
    “In The New Republic, Martin Peretz concluded from my expressed lack of interest in Faurisson’s work that I am an “agnostic” about the holocaust and “a fool” about genocide. He claims further that I deny freedom of expression to my opponents, referring to my comment that one degrades oneself by entering into debate over certain issues. In short, if I refuse to debate you, I constrain your freedom. He is careful to conceal the example I cited: the holocaust.”

    ….

    “Faurisson does not control the French press or scholarship. There is surely no lack of means or opportunity to refute or condemn his writings. My own views in sharp opposition to his are clearly on record, as I have said. No rational person will condemn a book, however outlandish its conclusions may seem, without at least reading it carefully; in this case, checking the documentation offered, and so on. One of the most bizarre criticisms has been that by refusing to undertake this task, I reveal that I have no interest in six million murdered Jews, a criticism which, if valid, applies to everyone who shares my lack of interest in examining Faurisson’s work. One who defends the right of free expression incurs no special responsibility to study or even be acquainted with the views expressed. I have, for example, frequently gone well beyond signing petitions in support of East European dissidents subjected to repression or threats, often knowing little and caring less about their views (which in some cases I find obnoxious, a matter of complete irrelevance that I never mention in this connection). I recall no criticism of this stand.”

    and

    “I have taken far more controversial stands than this in support of civil liberties and academic freedom. At the height of the Vietnam War, I publicly took the stand that people I regard as authentic war criminals should not be denied the right to teach on political or ideological grounds, and I have always taken the same stand with regard to scientists who “prove” that blacks are genetically inferior, in a country where their history is hardly pleasant, and where such views will be used by racists and neo-Nazis. Whatever one thinks of Faurisson, no one has accused him of being the architect of major war crimes or claiming that Jews are genetically inferior (though it is irrelevant to the civil-liberties issue, he writes of the “heroic insurrection of the Warsaw ghetto” and praises those who “fought courageously against Nazism” in “the right cause”). I even wrote in 1969 that it would be wrong to bar counterinsurgency research in the universities, though it was being used to murder and destroy, a position that I am not sure I could defend. What is interesting is that these far more controversial stands never aroused a peep of protest, which shows that the refusal to accept the right of free expression without retaliation, and the horror when others defend this right, is rather selective.”
    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19810228.htm

    But you know that, already?

    Personally I’m somewhat ambivalent as I am very sympathetic to laws against Holocaust denial on the grounds that Holocaust denial is essentially Nazi apologism and rehabilitation. I’m sympathetic that France and Germany, for example, have laws against Holocaust denial. The reasons for such laws are obvious. Of course, those same reasons sit ill with libertarian notions and specifically American 1st amendment rights – and America never suffered under Nazi conquest, so the view of Americans is often more sanguine and ‘libertarian’.

    There is certainly a possibility that such laws are self-defeating – Lipstadt takes such a position:

    ‘For European politicians, bringing in a ban on genocide denial is like apple pie. It’s what I call a freebie. They’re doing it to make themselves feel good. I mean, who could possibly be against standing up to nasty genocide deniers? Only when you get to the heart of it, this “freebie”, this populist move, could have a dire impact on academic debate. Even on truth itself.’

    ‘This is so over the top’, says Lipstadt….. ‘The question of genocide, the history of genocide and what you can say about it, should not be decided by politicians and judges.’

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:06

  20. ‘I’m opposed to Holocaust denial laws for three reasons’, Lipstadt says. ‘First because I believe in free speech. Governments should make no laws limiting free speech, because it is never good when that happens. Second, because these laws turn Holocaust deniers into martyrs. Look what happened to David Irving when he was released from jail in Austria – he became a media darling, given room to spout his misinformation. We should ignore them rather than chasing them down.

    ‘And thirdly, and most importantly, such laws suggest that we don’t have the history, the documentation, the evidence to make the case for the Holocaust having happened. They suggest we don’t trust the truth. But we do have the evidence, and we should keep on developing it and deepening it, and we should trust it.’
    ———-

    Maybe Lipstadt has written to Holocaust deniers without knowing they were such. I don’t see how that should change anyone’s opinion of Lipstadt.

    And her support of freespeech for deniers could be taken the same way as Chomsky’s – as legitimising Holocaust denial. But it’d plainly be wrong to do so. Surely?

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:17

  21. You’re not getting my point, or really interested.

    I’ll leave it at that.

    modernityblog

    22/02/2011 at 01:19

  22. On La Vielle Taupe you are confusing the two aspects of it? In 1981 Chomsky wrote:

    “In the fall of 1979, I was asked by Serge Thion, a libertarian socialist scholar with a record of opposition to all forms of totalitarianism, to sign a petition calling on authorities to insure Robert Faurisson’s “safety and the free exercise of his legal rights.” The petition said nothing about his “holocaust studies” (he denies the existence of gas chambers or of a systematic plan to massacre the Jews and questions the authenticity of the Anne Frank diary, among other things), apart from noting that they were the cause of “efforts to deprive Professor Faurisson of his freedom of speech and expression.”
    —–

    Whilst

    “La Vieille Taupe is a publishing house and bookshop in Paris, France. The establishment went through two distinct phases in its history. Between 1965 and 1972, it had a politically ultra left slant. In 1980 a project with the same name was launched by one of La Vieille Taupe’s previous participants and became renowned for publishing antisemitic and Holocaust denial literature.”
    WIKI
    —–

    Was Chomsky supposed to know where La Vieille Taupe was headed?

    If there’s really any serious evidence of C giving succour to Holocaust denial, I’d like to see it – it would really piss me off. I don’t see it though, and I am very quick to, usually.

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:27

  23. I’m not interested? I am.

    Not getting your point? No. I have asked you to explain it…..you haven’t. Please do?

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:28

  24. In 1979 Pierre Guillaume approached Gérard Lebovici with a proposal to publish the Holocaust Denial text Le Mensonge d’Ulysse by Paul Rassinier. Lebovici refused, so in 1980 Guillaume relaunched La Vieille Taupe as a negationist publishing house. Rassiner’s book was the first published.

    Many of Guillaume’s former associates deplore his reuse of the name for a purpose they regard as completely at odds with their former involvement. Some also regard Guillaume’s suggestion that Guy Debord was a secret negationist as obscene.
    ———

    How was Chomsky to know in 1979 that this would happen in 1980?

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:47

  25. I’m against anyone giving credence to Holocaust deniers.
    ———

    Chomsky doesn’t.

    -
    That’s what Chomsky does, that’s what he did, and he still can’t admit his mistake.
    ——

    That is not what Chomsky ‘does’. He has not ever given Holocaust denial any credence; he has no mistake to admit.

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 01:50

  26. Hmmm. I have changed my mind somewhat after reading the Oliver Kamm article on the Faurisson affair which you linked to.

    It seems Chomsky wrote the preface *after* being aware of Faurisson’s anti-semitism, indicated by his preface’s acknowledgement that he’d seen Naquet’s article on Fuarisson, or at least the lengthy response to it which presumably included Naquet’s criticism of Faurisson.

    Is that correct?

    If so, Chomsky appears to confirm he had read this:

    “It is Faurisson who stands within revisionist truth [i.e. the real nature of the Holocaust denial movement] when he proffers his famous formula: “Never did Hitler either order or accept that anyone be killed for reason of race or religion” (Vérité, p. 91). The “revisionists”, in fact, all more or less share several extremely simple principles.

    1. There was no genocide and the instrument symbolising it, the gas chamber, never existed.

    2. The ‘final solution’ was never anything other than the expulsion of the Jews towards eastern Europe, their “repression”, as Faurisson elegantly puts it (Vérité, p. 90). Since “most of the Jews of France came from the east”, it may be concluded that it was never anything more than their repatriation, a bit as when French authorities repatriated Algerians, in October 1961, in their “native douars”.

    3. The number of Jewish victims of Nazism is far smaller than has been claimed…. Faurisson, for his part, (almost) divides the million [claimed by his fellow deniers Arthur Butz and Paul Rassinier] in two: a few hundred thousand deaths in uniform (which is a fine demonstration of valour) and as many killed in “acts of war” (Vérité, p. 197). As for the death statistics for Auschwitz, they “rose to about 50,000″ (ibid.).

    4. Hitler’s Germany does not bear the principal responsibility for the Second World War. It shares that responsibility, for example, with the Jews (Faurisson in Vérité, p.187), or it may even not bear any responsibility at all.

    5. The principal enemy of the human race during the 1930s was not Nazi Germany but Stalin’s Soviet Union.

    6. The genocide was an invention of Allied propaganda, which was largely Jewish, and specifically Zionist, and which may be easily explained by the Jewish propensity to give imaginary statistics, under the influence of the Talmud.”
    ———

    And yet Chomsky still manages to say this:

    —”….is it true that Faurisson is an anti-Semite or a neo-Nazi? As noted earlier, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read — largely as a result of the nature of the attacks on him — I find no evidence to support either conclusion. Nor do I find credible evidence in the material that I have read concerning him, either in the public record or in private correspondence. As far as I can determine, he is a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort.”
    ————

    Hmmm. To conclude Faurisson was “a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort” after that is being all too kind.

    If that’s the case – and it appears to be so – I would agree with you that Chomsky made a mistake.

    the_last_name_left

    22/02/2011 at 02:41

  27. Somewhat?

    modernityblog

    22/02/2011 at 14:10

  28. You’ve gone very silent on this topic?

    So no post on Chomsky, Faurisson or the IHR?

    Please feel free to re-post this entry on your own blog and comment.

    I look forward to the mea culpa.

    modernityblog

    24/02/2011 at 15:06

  29. Gone quiet? Mea culpa?

    I already said I had changed my mind somewhat. I have been interested to see what happens to my own view as the timeline thing and its implications percolated through my opinion.

    I anticipated it having more of an effect than it has, tbh. Aside Chomsky’s forthright anti-fascism it’s tiny.

    And what is its consequence upon the present issue of the letters to Rollins, ‘contributing editor to IHR” apart from the fact that that Holocaust denial and deniers are the issue? Chomsky unequivocally denounces Holocaust denial, repeatedly. Even in the letters just released he makes clear such notions and their peddlers are “nuts”. (Which shows he was either unaware of or unsympathetic to his correspondents views and position.)

    Whilst it hasn’t undermined my opinion of Chomsky much (not yet, at least) it does make me think about how crudely I understand my political opponents – as they likely do theirs, ie me.

    Anyway, I still don’t see what the import of this blog entry is supposed to be, if not to tarnish Chomsky with Holocaust denial. It seems clear Chomsky didn’t know much at all about who he was corresponding with. So……what’s the issue?

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 01:04

  30. What is the issue ?

    You can fill my comments pages full of reams and reams, ask nonsensical questions, but until you actually did some reading the issues didn’t occur to you.

    That’s what happens with Chomskites, they defend their hero until the end, and when faced with evidence that he is decidedly dodgy politically in certain areas, they either:

    1)choose to ignore it
    2) trot out his familiar excuses
    3) rationalise it as not important

    Whereas a real antifascist would be highly critical of the world’s top intellectual, Noam Chomsky, for not knowing something about neo-Nazis, antisemitism, the connections and why Holocaust deniers try to manipulate these situations.

    A real antifascist would ask why would Chomsky call someone a friend, went said friend and his comrade, Serge Thion were both active collaborators with antisemitism?

    Chomsky pronouncements on antisemitism has the same hollow ring as Tory party grandees denouncing sexism or poverty..

    A real antifascist would look beyond what people say they actually see what they *do*, and in Chomsky’s case not very much.

    Please do look up Serge Thion, and then him and Chomsky….

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 01:19

  31. a real antifascist would be highly critical of the world’s top intellectual, Noam Chomsky, for not knowing something about neo-Nazis, antisemitism, the connections and why Holocaust deniers try to manipulate these situations.
    ————-

    Not knowing everything all the time is not knowing “nothing”.

    That would seem obvious.

    -

    “A real antifascist would ask why would Chomsky call someone a friend, went said friend and his comrade, Serge Thion were both active collaborators with antisemitism?”

    I expressed my concern already. Of course it is of concern.

    Question has been asked. No answer has been forthcoming. Did you not notice?

    Why did Chomsky do such a thing? We don’t know. And it simply has to be seen alongside his repeated unequivocal denunciation of Holocaust denial and fascism – across what…..60 years? All of which you purposefully ignore.

    “Chomsky pronouncements on antisemitism has the same hollow ring as Tory party grandees denouncing sexism or poverty..”
    -
    Oh rubbish! He has a lifetime of work and activism essentially in opposition to fascism, Holocaust denial, racism etc. Why does this matter concern you at all unless that is true? So don’t ignore it.

    “A real antifascist would look beyond what people say they actually see what they *do*, and in Chomsky’s case not very much.”

    Again, what a lot of rot.

    There are issues here – you needn’t engage in fantasy to attempt a point.

    Contrary to your assertions, what is notable about this is that despite Chomsky’s unequivocal and lifelong opposition to fascism, he has nevertheless been found wanting on occasion – through ignorance, laziness or from or from adoption of a justifying rationale we personally might not share or understand.

    We don’t know.

    In the present case, which you raised originally in your blog, is nothing more than Chomsky exchanging letters with someone whom Chomsky was ignorant about – a contributing editor to IHR. Hardly remarkable and certainly not anything to condemn him over.

    Chomsky said of Faurisson –

    “As far as I can determine, he is a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort.”

    Chomsky doesn’t treat Holocaust denial as necessarily anti-semitic. How much Chomsky had done to “determine” that is apparently unknown. Is it only fascists who can engage in Holocaust denial? No. So what were Faurisson’s wider political views at the time?

    Chomsky again:

    “….is it true that Faurisson is an anti-Semite or a neo-Nazi? As noted earlier, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read — largely as a result of the nature of the attacks on him — I find no evidence to support either conclusion.”

    Well, maybe that was true in his eyes when he said it. Maybe it remains so?

    C doesn’t believe Holocaust denial is necessarily anti-semitic, so, if there isn’t something more than denial why would he find evidence of anti-semitism or Nazism?

    Personally I tend to find Holocaust denial a distinct indicator of anti-semitism — why would one pursue such an endeavour otherwise? However, I have some sympathy with the notion that denial is not strictly anti-semitism and as that’s the position Chomsky holds, then it’s understandable why he said it.

    -
    Please do look up Serge Thion, and then him and Chomsky….
    -

    Hey? Chapter and verse? WHAT ABOUT IT? All you do is roughly gesticulate – “in that direction!” you wave. Without saying why.

    WHY? Specifics?

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 12:15

  32. “Chomsky doesn’t treat Holocaust denial as necessarily anti-semitic. How much Chomsky had done to “determine” that is apparently unknown. Is it only fascists who can engage in Holocaust denial? No. So what were Faurisson’s wider political views at the time?”

    Of course, Holocaust denial is fundamentally antisemitic.

    Why else would anyone indulge in Holocaust denial ?

    Why else is Holocaust denial such an active pursuit of those people who believe in neo-Nazism?

    The two are intimately linked that is why, but Chomsky can’t bring himself to admit it, because it would put him in an invidious position.

    So he has to argue nonsense and hope that his acolytes will take up those ridiculous arguments.

    We are told that Chomsky is the world’s foremost intellectual, yet he can’t do basic research, he can’t come up with a plausible reason why the evidence points one-way and his arguments the other.

    So he can’t provide any evidence based reasoning as to why the extreme right push Holocaust denial, thus he has to twist reason to support his own poor conduct.

    Chomsky spouts off on subjects which apparently he knows nothing, or next to nothing about, and when caught out having painted himself in a corner he utilises all of his sophistry and bends reason accordingly. Next time he should listen to Abe Lincoln**

    Which is pretty despicable because ultimately he provides the Extreme Right with an argument, they can reply “Holocaust denial is not antisemitic, Noam Chomsky says so”

    So once more, Chomsky provides credence to the Extreme Right.

    As for Serge Thion, if you don’t want to put his name into Google I can’t force you, but as with the other links I have supplied, it is you that will lose out.

    It is you that has the evidence in front of you and chooses to ignore it.

    All in all, not very auspicious for a supposed antifascist.

    ** Lincoln’s advice:

    Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 13:31

  33. So he can’t provide any evidence based reasoning as to why the extreme right push Holocaust denial, thus he has to twist reason to support his own poor conduct.
    —–

    No. There’s a difference between recognising the far-right pursue Holocaust denial and recognising it as inherently anti-semitic.

    I don’t doubt Chomsky realises the far-right exploit Holocaust denial as a means to pursue anti-semitism, along with legitimation of Nazism. There’s no reason for anyone to doubt that.

    There’s also no reason to doubt Chomsky has unequivocally repudiated Holocaust denial and called its proponents “nuts” – he even did so in the supposedly controversial letters you referred to in your blog-entry.

    Really it’s a disagreement about the definition of anti-semitism, isn’t it? Chomsky seems not to believe Holocaust denial is intrinsically anti-semitic – you believe it is.

    I would agree that it appears Chomsky has (uncharacteristically) provided several opportunities to fascism, Holocaust denial and anti-semitism – but that doesn’t invalidate his denunciation of it or his lifelong work seemingly against it. The fact this generated such controversy is because it is exceptional.

    I clearly don’t find it as damning as you do – but you wish to find it damaging, clearly you’re predisposed to. Myself the opposite, presumably.

    “if you don’t want to put his name into Google I can’t force you”

    If you won’t respond to specifics, I can’t force you.

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 14:34

  34. “No. There’s a difference between recognising the far-right pursue Holocaust denial and recognising it as inherently anti-semitic.”

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then its probably a duck, in spite of Chomsky’s desire to argue otherwise.

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 14:54

  35. “Why else would anyone indulge in Holocaust denial ?

    Why else is Holocaust denial such an active pursuit of those people who believe in neo-Nazism?”
    ————-

    You assert that Holocaust denial is always motivated by neo-Nazism?

    In essence I agree, though in pure logic terms it cannot be true. I have known people who indulged Holocaust denial, without betraying the least pro-Nazism. I find such positions suspicious tbh – and generally I accept Holocaust denial as objective Nazi-apologism and anti-semitism. However, there is the caveat that it needn’t motivate the individual, even though the effect might be objective nazi apologism or effective anti-semitism.

    I suspect that’s something of the difference that seems to set Chomsky apart in this matter.


    “ultimately he provides the Extreme Right with an argument, they can reply “Holocaust denial is not antisemitic, Noam Chomsky says so””

    The real argument against Holocaust denial is that it’s plain wrong. Clearly one can make an argument that it isn’t anti-semitic necessarily (one needn’t accept such arguments, but clearly they can be made without necessarily betraying anti-semitism). Nevertheless in its instrumental use, Holocaust denial is objectively anti-semitic.

    One can’t look into the soul of another.

    It’s notable that Chomsky is guilty of gifting the far-right some opportunities – but set against his life and work it all seems a mere trifle, imo. It’s more a means to bash Chomsky, isn’t it?

    I’m happy to criticise him for what he deserves criticism for. You appear to want to make more of it than that.

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 14:56

  36. from 23″ or so – Hitchens on Holocaust denial, as not “necessarily” anti-semitism.

    http://www.salonoriental.dk/?p=1236

    A reasonable position, imo, and one that seems close to Chomsky’s.

    Why is such a position untenable? Simply because it *might* provide opportunity and space for the far-right to exploit?

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 15:27

  37. Why is it untenable ?

    Because it doesn’t tally with the evidence, thus, if you truly believe this position then you have to argue or explain with lucidity, WHY the most active holocaust deniers are either pro-Nazi, obvious antisemites, have serious hangups with Jews, etc etc

    Until that occurs it’s just a bit of nitpicking.

    Deborah Lipstadt’s book explains the issues in detail, you might obtain a copy.

    This issue isn’t about *pure* logic.

    We are talking about political activists why they do things and what their ultimate aim is, that what antifascists think about, real antifascists.

    Two examples should suffice.

    1. The English defence league argue that “they are not racist, as they have ethnic members, therefore couldn’t be. ”

    No one who is examined the EDL with any objectivity could miss concluding that

    1) the leadership is stuffed full of neo-Nazis and BNPers
    2) EDL events are extensively advertised on far right web sites
    3) that the object of the EDL’s actions is an ethnic minority/religious minority
    4) that the Far Right lie, and do anything to gain power, etc etc

    So if you were to nitpick and argue that not everyone in the EDL was a racist, therefore the EDL wasn’t racist, you would be wrong, but that is essentially a variance on Chomsky’s argument.

    2. In parts of America there is a movement towards the rehabilitation of the Confederacy.

    Now supposedly not everyone who pushes the Confederacy flag is a racist, but it is very clear what the racial undertones of this type of movement are, if you see beyond the obvious.

    A sense of history is required to see beyond the obvious here

    The problem with these issues is that it requires a degree of intellectual honesty, an ability to sift through the evidence and draw a reasoned conclusion, and having drawn that conclusion defend it, logically.

    That is the problem with Chomsky’s position.

    It is essentially a nitpick, it doesn’t in any way substantively analyse Holocaust denial draw any conclusions or explain why it is linked to neo-Nazism.

    And that is why it is unsatisfactory.

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 15:50

  38. Well, ok, but that wasn’t Chomsky’s concern. It never has been? You can say you wish it was, that it should be – but nobody has argued that Chomsky has ever applied himself to “substantively analyse Holocaust denial”. He repudiates it totally – and seems entirely disinterested in the matter. He’s allowed to do so. Absent such “substantive analysis” you cast his arguments for freespeech (for Holocaust deniers and others) as giving succour to Nazism and anti-semitism. I think that’s a serious stretch.


    “So if you were to nitpick and argue that not everyone in the EDL was a racist, therefore the EDL wasn’t racist, you would be wrong, but that is essentially a variance on Chomsky’s argument.”

    No. It seems clear to me that the argument Chomsky repudiates is one that would claim “because some members of EDL are racists, everyone in the EDL is racist.”

    “Nazis use Holocaust denial, therefore Holocaust deniers are Nazis” is simply logically not true. Clearly. And that’s a position C seems to hold.

    BTW, why do you plead for recognition for the background and history of Holocaust denial/Nazism but ignore the history and background of Chomsky’s denunciation of Holocaust denial and descriptions of its proponents as “nuts”? Why only appreciate the one context?

    And specifically – I’d wonder what political views did Faurisson hold (and which chomsky was aware of) should have lead a careful person to conclude Faurisson was a Nazi?

    Faurisson’s Holocaust denial? Well, ok, but that isn’t the same thing as being “a Nazi”.

    Likewise for anti-semitism – is Holocaust denial necessarily anti-semitism? Strictly speaking, Holocaust denial is not necessarily driven by anti-semitism (though invariably it is, and objectively the effect of it *is*.)

    Granted, I think we should expect more from Chomsky than this. But on the other hand, what would it have said about Chomsky and freespeech if he hadn’t been prepared to defend Faurisson in such a way? Better that Chomsky had denounced Faurisson and Holocaust denial and refrained from describing F as “an apolitical liberal”. For sure. But he didn’t: it’s blackmark against him, but scarcely significant imo when set against his life and work.

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 16:32

  39. You argue that because

    “the most active holocaust deniers are either pro-Nazi, obvious antisemites, have serious hangups with Jews, etc etc”

    then it is untenable to hold that

    “Holocaust denial is not necessarily antisemitic”.

    —–

    Strange because even in your own phrasing you say MOST – what is the word MOST doing in there if you don’t concede the point?

    You said

    “****most***** active holocaust deniers are either pro-Nazi, obvious antisemites, have serious hangups with Jews, etc etc”

    Hence, following your own argument you are being anti-semitic there by not asserting ALL Holocaust denial is anti-semitic, pro-Nazi, etc etc.

    the_last_name_left

    25/02/2011 at 16:53

  40. “and seems entirely disinterested in the matter.”

    That being the case, Chomsky should follow Abraham Lincoln’s comment and keep his mouth shut.

    But he doesn’t.

    So you have the paradox of him not actually knowing much about Holocaust denial, never having analysed it, its origins, its purpose, yet he’s happy to make pronouncements, which can’t be argued with, one way or the other.

    So Chomsky is content to talk about what he doesn’t know about.

    Not a terribly clever thing for an intellectual to do.

    “No. It seems clear to me that the argument Chomsky repudiates is one that would claim “because some members of EDL are racists, everyone in the EDL is racist.””

    That is NOT what I said, the purpose of the EDL is racist, irrespective of the individual views of its members, that is the wider purpose.

    That is the nub of the argument.

    It is a political argument when you have to analyse things politically and not use some literalistic nitpicking find a loophole (which is incidentally what the EDL and their apologist do).

    Either you understand things politically or you don’t, Chomsky doesn’t but can’t admit it.

    Please do remind me of the political purpose of rehabilitating the Confederacy ?

    And would you or Chomsky argue because, hypothetically *one* person, who supports its aims, is not a racist that that therefore the ultimate aim of the rehabilitation of the Confederacy is *not* racist ?

    The rehabilitation of the Confederacy obviously IS racist, irrespective of its supporters views’, so in a similar political fashion is Holocaust denial.

    Please engage with that particular point.

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 17:04

  41. To answer your above point which I have just seen:

    Plainly Nazism was inherently racist, even if someone were to argue that “not everyone in the Nazi party was a racist”.

    Please, read Lipstadt she explains in more detail.

    modernityblog

    25/02/2011 at 17:13

  42. “Please, read Lipstadt she explains in more detail.”
    —-

    What does she explain in more detail? Where?

    See Lipstadt? Anything at all of it or all of it? What are you on about?

    Part of your argument about the supposed magnitude and impact of all this is your assertion of Chomsky as world-renowned scholar, activist, leftist etc.

    You assert that as a reason why this issue is especially important. And yet you dismiss all of it and concern yourself with something that only has significance because of that which you dismiss.

    Odd.

    You’ve already stated that you’re predisposed to a negative opinion of Chomsky. (obvious disclaimer – I’m happy to admit I am predisposed positively towards him.)

    I see Chomsky’s rejection of Holocaust denial and opposition to fascism – and politically I see you attacking him, in the fashion you do.

    Chomsky rejects Holocaust denial and fascism.

    You reject Chomsky.

    the_last_name_left

    26/02/2011 at 00:10

  43. I am talking about her book.

    Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth & Memory.

    Any antifascist worth their salt should familiarise themselves with this work.

    It explains in detail the modus operandi of Holocaust deniers, etc etc

    It covers all of the questions that Chomsky couldn’t be bothered to ask.

    So please, what was your answer to the question concerning the Confederacy ?

    modernityblog

    26/02/2011 at 00:27


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