Despite the controversy surrounding the appearance of the infamous â€œHolocaust revisionistâ€ Bradley Smith at Cal State Fullerton, the atmosphere was surprisingly anti-climactic as a couple dozen attendees showed up at the Alvarado room in the Titan Student Union May 6 to hear Smith speak on the topic of â€œThe student newspaper: the question of taboo.”
The purpose of Smithâ€™s appearance was to argue that the American professorial class, allied with special interest organizations, supports a taboo over the free exchange of ideas regarding the Holocaust question, and that student journalists who do not cooperate put their careers at risk.
â€œI am not going to question the Holocaust,â€ Smith said, adding that he was just trying to promote a free exchange of ideas on the taboo that prohibits open debate on the issue of the Holocaust.
Smith went on to address the heart of the controversy; banner advertisements that Smithâ€™s office had been placing in several American campus newspaper websites that linked to his blog or his home page for The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.
In April, the Daily Titan ran a similar advertisement on its website featuring only the text: â€œThe irrational vocabulary of the American professorial class â€¦â€ that linked to the full transcription of a talk Smith gave at the Tehran Holocaust conference in December 2006. The advertisement was taken down, and Smith speculated on the decisions of the editors who decided to pull the advertisement.
â€œThereâ€™s a taboo against running such ads, (that) link to such information and such opinions,â€ Smith said. â€œBut it was being advised too, by professors on campus and by special interest organizations.â€
â€œIt is my guess that there is not one professor at CSU Fullerton who would stand up in public to defend any journalist or the newspaper itself if they proceeded to publish anything that questioned the orthodox Holocaust story,â€ Smith said.
Smith claims that after one such advertisement ran in the Harvard Crimson, the Anti-Defamation league and Hillel, the Jewish Student organization on campus, put together a 10,000 word document telling student editors and journalists why they should not pay attention to any questions raised about the orthodox Holocaust story.
Smith also referred to the â€œirrational vocabulary of the professorial classâ€ that he said he came across repeatedly in published reports in student newspapers in response to his advertisements. Smith claims that the professors do not address the text of his advertisements or makes any reference to what he has written or said, they choose instead to use words like â€œoffensive,â€ â€œreprehensible,â€ â€œwholesale rejection of truthâ€ and â€œa bunch of rotten goodsâ€ (among others), that there is only the attempt to â€œdestroy the messenger,â€ while addressing his advertisements.
â€œWhen you are under the influence of taboo and conformity which, with regards to this issue, the professorial class does suffer from, thatâ€™s the vocabulary that you use,â€ Smith said. â€œIf you do not like the message on the American campus with regards to this subject, you bury it, you snuff it out, you suppress it, you censor it, you kill it and do all you can to destroy the messenger thatâ€™s how it works.â€
Speaking about the Holocaust, Smith said that although no one can deny that Jews suffered a catastrophe during World War II, there are aspects to the unique monstrosity of the Germans that just donâ€™t hold up to investigation. If facts (of the Holocaust) have been established, then there should be no risks associated with students asking questions about the Holocaust, Smith said.
â€œIt is my view that it is right and good to question authority,â€ Smith said. â€œAnd to question vigorously, precisely those matters that authority tells you are unquestionable.â€
Summing up, Smith claimed that the American professorial class exploits an irrational vocabulary to respond to revisionistâ€™s arguments questioning the orthodox Holocaust story. The decision of the American professorial class to exploit this irrational vocabulary is a deliberate decision to avoid communication with peers, students and campus newspapers, Smith said.
â€œIâ€™m willing to be convinced that Iâ€™m wrong about any of this, but for some reason, Iâ€™m not willing to be convinced that I should shut up,â€ Smith said.
Rabbi Drew Kaplan, who serves for Hillel, was at the event after a student informed him about the speaker. Kaplan said that the Holocaust is a huge part of the Jewish story and to hear someone talk about it in such a way was disturbing.
â€œAt least he didnâ€™t say he was denying the Holocaust, he said he was revising it. But even though he didnâ€™t deny the Holocaust, itâ€™s bizarre that he denies the gas chambers in spite of all the evidence for them,â€ said Kaplan, adding that it is still disturbing to the Jewish psyche because the Holocaust was not only bad in the numbers of people who were systematically murdered but also in terms of the destruction of European Jewish culture.
â€œIt remains in the Jewish memory,â€ Kaplan said.
Grant Deering, chair of the TSU governing board, said that most people at the talk expected a â€œcrazyâ€ guy, but Smith actually stuck to the topic that he said he would.
â€œHe was asking students to be academic on a topic,â€ Deering said. â€œBut again, he was asking them to be academic on a topic that was, as he said, controversial.â€
Deering also commented that the low student turnout also had something to do with the general apathy that affects most events on campus.