And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!
I give you now today's turkey, an op ed piece that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1999, titled "Holocaust debate, and a thin line between obsession and madness" by John Timpane, Editor of Commentary Page.
Here a ZGram reader I will call Kevin takes the opportunity to put some gravy on the bird's cadaver.
Independent thinkers and madmen.
Hard to tell the difference sometimes. Folks in one camp cross over into the other. It's a challenge to tell the scoundrel and the fool from the sick. In my job as editor of this page, I see, among thousands of excellent opinion pieces, a few essays each year from a certain kind of people who believe they are geniuses. They tell me they are fearless, independent thinkers. An irony, since many of them are quite similar. Under the banner of "independent thinking," they advance vanguard after vanguard of inappropriate fantasy. Some of it is racist, some bitterly sexist, some homophobic. I'm glad you don't have to read it.
Often, such writers call themselves "revisionists." They're going to show you, by God, that something you always believed happened - the walk on the moon, for example, or the Holocaust - didn't. Monomania murmurs below: Their quest is to revise the book of history and to tower over all the rest of us sheepish believers.
Bradley R. Smith, the man who recently published a 27-page insert in the Chronicle, the Hofstra University campus newspaper, sounds like one of these people. Smith paid the Chronicle $450 to run a supplement that, while it does not directly deny the Holocaust, challenges many assertions of fact concerning its historicity. This is in character. His Web site, www.codoh.com, fronts the Committee for Open Discussion of the Holocaust. There, Bradley treats "revisionism" as if it were a full-flushed intellectual movement. If you read its contents for more than five minutes (I wasted a couple of hours at the site), you'll see that this is no movement - it's a cadre of obsessed people who, since no one listens to them, speak to one another.
Jason Kirell, senior editor of the Chronicle, tells me that the paper ran Bradley's insert as "a freedom-of-speech thing" and that "we were determined to treat this ad like any other ad, and not drop it just because we might disagree with it." The Hofstra campus understandably is convulsed in debate. "About 95 percent of everyone was against us for running it, and a lot of people thought we shouldn't print it," Kirell tells me, "but I think a lot of people just skimmed it, saw it was against the Holocaust, and rejected it without reading."
Bravo on all sides. America all over. Smith has every right to publish what he can get published. The Chronicle is well within its rights in running it. And the faculty and students at Hofstra are within their rights in disregarding and ridiculing it, as Kirell tells me they almost unanimously are doing. That's the way it should be. Censor no one. But censure anyone who tells lies about history.
Yes, by all means, and later on let us hold western style trials and put the liars away for extended periods.
To be sure, I'm biased. I regard as an object of pity anyone who disbelieves in the Holocaust. We often are told that "reasonable people can disagree," but seldom are we reminded that on certain topics, disagreement can disqualify you from consideration as reasonable. I am glad that Bradley R. Smith has no fear and that he thinks he is independent. I am also happy to report that most people either regard his work as foolish or aren't paying much attention.
Yes, you are definitely biased, you are also a bigot. I would imagine that your position on the "Holocaust" has a lot to do with your employment at the Philadelphia Inquirer. I would imagine that you also believe that the Palestinians are cockroaches and for that you will receive a substantial Xmas bonus!
Smith is manifestly a sane man. But I am struck by how near such obsessive revisionism can come to another kind of wayward thinking. When the mad speak, they refer to a world that you cannot share with them.
Yes, you are certainly correct there! How could I possibly share a world with madmen who insist that millions of people were marched into potato cellars and killed with a common insecticide. How could I not feel insecure when in the vicinity of fantasy factories (major city newspapers) grinding out daily doses of sadomasochistic victim agitprop for the lumpenproletariat?
So this is what happened when they closed the state run mental insitutions--the former inmates were all hired by the newspaper?
Their minds are broken, their personalities disintegrating. They connect causes and effects in diseased ways. I have known several people, as I'm sure you have, in various mental states ranging from depression to schizophrenia, and they knew it, and it was a continual suffering for them.
Strange! What qualified you to recognize "various mental states ranging from depression to schizophrenia"? Perhaps it is because you are in the newspaper racket? Is that what happens to you when you peddle your backside for ad revenue?
My heart breaks as I think of it. Madness can be funny, to be sure (I was once informed by a calm young gentleman that in his toilet the FBI had planted a snake with a camera in its head - I don't care what you say, that's pretty funny), but behind the funniness lies the grief of utter exile.
Ted Kaczynski had an interview recently in Time, and I was once again reminded of the thin line between the paranoid delusive, who in his disordered mind sees what he believes (the pity of it) to be revelations and trumpets them to the world, and the indomitable, fearless thinker who discovers that, eureka, blacks really are stupid and criminal, women really are out to conquer men, Bill Clinton really did have up to 4,000 close associates murdered in cold blood, and Neil Armstrong took one, small step not in the Sea of Tranquillity, but in some New York soundstage in 1969.
And pray tell, what does the above have to do with Bradley R. Smith and the potato cellars? The pedal operated execution machine? The gas van complete with camp stove and reefer?
Sir- at the first opportunity check the Philly Yellow Pages and contact the first shrink who will take you. A few years of therapy will do wonders for you. You won't be fit for newspaper work again but you will be able to look yourself in the mirror without retching.
To share your world, I have to be persuaded there's common ground on which we both can walk. But I can share nothing with Bradley R. Smith, who picks and chooses evidence-that-isn't and knits up an American quilt of delirium and folly. Nor can I share anything with Kaczynski, who sent death by mail to those he thought evil. There's nothing there. To quote Archibald MacLeish, there's "Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all."
(Slight shift to a 1998 op ed describing where Timpane comes from):
Twenty-two years of college English professorship (at Stanford, Rutgers, the University of Southampton and Lafayette College) took a wild turn when the folks at The Inquirer invited me to be the Commentary Page editor. I sure hope they know what they are doing.
Absurdly overeducated . . .
Come on! You spent twenty-two years warming a chair and wasting your employers money. You are a fraud and the "folks at The Inquirer" knew it when they hired you.
I read and try to write poetry, essays and fiction. I read all the time, not always English. Interests: all of creation. Expertise: some of creation, especially arts and culture, science and medicine, history, religion, politics, social organization and family life.
And you know absolutely nothing about physics, chemistry, forensics and the bottom line--the truth--the opposite of error and falsehood. Or how to get to it.
I want to bring people to my page who don't usually get into opinion pages, writing about things you don't often see on opinion pages. Eldest of nine. California-raised . . .
California-raised. Do you mean reared? Please do not ever mention that again! You are an embarrassment and that says a lot, coming from another Californian.
". . . sort of. Resident somewhere between Trenton and Princeton. Author of two books (on writing and on poetry). Churchgoing Catholic. Jogger and exceptionally bad basketball player. Jazz/classical flutist and zydeco bassist. Proud to be the father of Pilar, 12, and Conor, 9. Glad to be the spouse of the superlative and canny Maria-Christina Keller, copy chief of Scientific American.
Writing and poetry! You are immensely qualified to write on the "Holocaust", otherwise known as Shoah business! Please do not say that you are from California.
Thought for the Day:
"The truth is invincible. Only lies need protection. Add 2 and 2 and you'll understand the fragility of the 6 million idiocy.
"Add a few *billion* dollars and you'll understand a lot more than that.
"Then start your own investigation of what others have discovered for *your* benefit at their own risk, toil and trouble, to put it mildly.
"Even morons have a right to the truth".
(ASMarques / cyber revisionist)
Back to Table of Contents of the Nov. 1999 ZGrams