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Survivors speak at The Last Bookstore, despite online harassment – Jewish Journal

Despite online harassment by an alt-right provocateur, two Holocaust survivors told their stories of triumph over evil, as planned, to a standing-room-only crowd at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 19.

The appearance by Robert Geminder and Gabriella Karin came 11 days after a person who writes under the name Johnny Benitez posted a Facebook link for the event with the tagline: Who wants to bet money this is another white guilt push. Lesson 1: white people are bad and its good theyre an ever increasing minority.

After the events organizer, Jennifer Brack, told Benitez he was not welcome, Benitez whose real name is Juan Cadavid, according to a report by the OC Weekly posted a video encouraging his followers to attend the event.

At the advice of the Anti-Defamation League, Brack hired a pair of armed guards and proceeded with the event, the third in a series called Lessons of the Past, survivor speaker engagements organized by Brack with the help of the American Society for Yad Vashem.

The audience of about 300 people, who sat on folding chairs and the floor, was attentive, respectful and engaged. And after Geminder and Karin spoke, a long line formed with well-wishers who praised their eloquence and courage.

People more than ever these days want to hear survivors, Karin told the Journal before she spoke. They want reassurance that people will go out and speak in spite of the threats.

Karin, 86, and Geminder, 82, are a couple. They began dating in 2015 after both had lost their spouses to illness years before. They briefly wondered how they should proceed with the speaking event after they learned about the harassment, but they never gave a second thought to pulling out.

Im not afraid, Karin said. Maybe because of what we went through, nothing makes me afraid.

Even so, she and Geminder were perturbed with the harassment, which came a week after white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va. one of the largest such demonstrations in a decade, according to the ADL.

When we see a Nazi flag like we saw over the weekend in Charlottesville, it just tears us apart, Geminder said.

Both survivors tell their stories around the world, and neither has experienced any kind of harassment, online or otherwise, before the posts from Benitez.

At the event, as they have done hundreds of times before, the two carefully told the stories of their experiences and shared the lessons they have drawn from them.

Geminder was born in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1935. He saw as many as 14,000 Jews massacred at the cemetery in Stanislawow but managed to survive, he said, by pure luck. He and his brother, mother and stepfather were in Warsaw when the Warsaw Uprising was quelled. The Nazis put them in a cattle car on a train headed to the Auschwitz concentration camp, but the family was able to escape through an opening in the roof of the car within a hundred yards of the camp.

Karin was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1930, and spent the Holocaust in hiding, successfully sheltered by her mothers underground contacts and the help of a righteous gentile named Karol Blanar.

Neither survivor mentioned Benitezs harassment at the bookstore event.

I dont want to make anyone else aware of the negatives, Geminder said. I want to focus on the positives.

Meanwhile, as Geminder and Karin were speaking, Benitez was at a Laguna Beach event he organized called America First! Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees, according to his posts on Facebook.

Benitez, whose recent web exploits included posting a manipulated photo that made it appear the Jewish mayor of Laguna Beach was wearing a Nazi uniform, has long been on the radar of Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher at the ADLs Center on Extremism.

Benitez does not have a history of violence, but some of his known associates, who include skinheads and antigovernment extremists, do, she said.

In the video Benitez posted about the survivors event, a framed photograph of various guns is visible in the background as he talks about how the L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is involved in a Jewish conspiracy to use the Holocaust to antagonize white people.

Why is it so concurrent that the anti-white narrative and the anti-Trump narrative is so closely tied to these events that push the Holocaust and white privilege and white guilt? he says in the video, which he streamed live simultaneously on Facebook and the social media site Periscope.

Mendelson, who has followed Benitezs rising profile within the alt-right, said he has a fixation with Jews that borders on Holocaust denial. After he posted the video, in which he holds up an iPad with Bracks Facebook profile on it, the ADL encouraged her to take basic precautions such as contacting law enforcement.

Although no direct threats of violence were made against the organizer, we still wanted to make sure that law enforcement were in the loop and to help safeguard this gathering, Mendelson said. It is a sad state of affairs when individuals who have been traumatized by the Holocaust are in some ways revictimized by anti-Semitic and hateful racist thought leaders.

Contacted via Facebook Messenger, Benitez told the Journal he wanted his followers to observe and report the narrative from the bookstore event. He said he first learned about the event through a Facebook ad.

Asked if he denied the Holocaust or questioned its magnitude, Benitez was evasive.

I dont address the holocaust. I view any attempt to lure people into discussions about it to be Red Herrings, he wrote, not acknowledging the fact that he brought the Holocaust history event to the attention of his nearly 2,000 Facebook friends and followers.

At The Last Bookstore, during the question-and-answer period, audience members wanted to know how Geminder and Karin felt about the recent events in Charlottesville, where swastikas were abundant and men yelling Sieg Heil marched in front of a synagogue.

It was a nightmare for us, Geminder said. I can imagine how every one of you must have felt. Imagine a hundredfold how survivors felt during this. When we came to America, we never expected to see that again. Never, never, never.

Even with the recent news events, both Geminder, a retired electrical engineer and part-time math teacher, and Karin, an artist and former fashion designer, said they are avowed optimists.

Karin recounted for the audience the moment after World War II when she decided she would move on from the trauma of the Holocaust to have a full and active life. She was standing on the platform of a train station in her native Bratislava, now the capital of Slovakia, as emaciated Jewish refugees streamed into the city.

I decided to myself, Hitler did not get my body; he will not get my soul. I will smile. I will be happy, she told the audience. And I am.

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Survivors speak at The Last Bookstore, despite online harassment – Jewish Journal

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How Do Other Nations Memorialize Their Past Atrocities? – HuffPost

The United States is once again grappling with what to do about public symbols of the Confederacy as they become rallying points for white supremacists.

The debate intensified this month after a woman was killed and dozens were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white supremacist demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen.Robert E. Lee. City councils and universities have since moved to take downseveral controversial monuments, while demonstrators have toppled others.

Although the debate over Confederate statues is uniquely American, the broader question of how a nation should memorialize painful or divisive parts of its past is an issue that numerous countries still struggle to address. Some have chosen to outright remove monuments or notorious buildings, while others have recontextualized them or built new ones in their place. Whatever the outcome, the process is often contentious.

Most countries have been pretty reluctant or just dont know how to commemorate periods of shame or national crimes perpetrated in the national name. No country is very good at it, and we havent been very good at it, either, said James E. Young, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has consulted for governments on how to memorialize their pasts.

In Europe, many post-Soviet states have chosen to take down the statues of Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin that dotted their cities under communist rule. Ukraine, for instance, has removed over a thousandLenin statues following the ouster of its pro-Russia president in 2014.

But some former communist states have instead decided to move their Soviet-era monuments somewhere else or alter them to connote new meaning. Hungary keeps many of its communist-era statues in a memorial park, a move Taiwan also favoredfor statues of its former leader Chiang Kai-shek.

In other cases, citizens have taken it upon themselves to respond. In 1991, a young Czech artist in Prague painteda Soviet World War II-era tank monument entirely pink. The artist was arrested for vandalism, but members of Parliament repainted the tank to protest his detention.

In countries like Italy and Spain, where brick-and-mortar remnants of fascist rule are still standing, architectural works and even human remains have been a source of debate. Spanish Parliament passed a nonbindingvote in May urging the removal of former dictator Francisco Francos body from a public tomb something that has yet to occur.

France, meanwhile, bans any monument to its Nazi-collaborating Vichy government, and as of 2013,every street name featuring Vichy leader Philippe Ptain had been changed.

Nowhere in Europe, however, has had to confront its past crimes on the same scale as Germany. The countrys reckoning for World War II and the Holocaust has led to the preservation of some sites, such as Auschwitz, while most other symbols of Nazi rule were systematically destroyed or banned. It is currently illegal for Germans to display any symbols associated with Nazism or Adolf Hitler, with a few exceptions for artistic purposes. Holocaust denial, too, is a prosecutable offense.

Along with the removal of monuments to the Third Reich, Germany has also built memorials and museums that commemorate the victims of Nazism. Seeking to counteract the grandiose monuments the Nazis built, some of the memorials have taken on more experimental forms.

The city of Hamburg erected the Monument Against Fascism in 1986, consisting of a 39-foot pillar upon which citizens were invited to engrave their names in solidarity. When a portion of the pillar was filled up with signatures, that section was lowered into the ground, bringing an unmarked section down and starting the process again until eventually the whole pillar was completely gone. The work took seven years and ended with the erection of a plaque commemorating the monument that stated,In the end it is only we ourselves who can stand up against injustice.

Germany has also created federally funded projects to atone for its past. In the mid-1990s, the country held competitions to design a memorial for the 6 million Jewish people killed by the Nazis. It sparked a fierce debate as artists and politicians argued over how it was possible to properly memorialize the Holocaust.

One of the artist submissions for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe even proposed that Germany destroy Berlins famous Brandenburg Gate and sprinkle the dust over the monument site, then cover the area with granite plates. The concept aimed to memorialize the void left by the Holocaust with another absence.

The design ultimately chosen, created by architect Peter Eisenman, opened in 2005 and features thousands of concrete, tomb-like slabs rising from the ground on an uneven plane.

Meanwhile, across Canada, there are small monuments that focus on healing and understanding of Canadas Holocaust, whichripped 150,000 indigenous children from their families and placed them in residential schools under the guise of education.

The policy which the U.S. also pursued began in the 19th century and continued in some form until the last school was finally closed in 1996. The children died from malnutrition and other horrific conditions, and generations were traumatized by the institutions legacy of sexual and physical abuse.

Recent Canadian initiatives have focused less on building memorials and more on removing monuments or tributes to notorious or polarizing historic figures. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeaurenamed the Langevin Block, whichhouses his office. The buildings namesake was Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the architects of the residential school system. The city of Calgary also renamed the Langevin Bridge this year.

In Mexico, sites honoring controversial figures from the countrys past have also become targets for removal or public ire. In 1981, President Jos Lpez Portillo installed a statue of Spanish conquistador Hernn Corts, who carries a brutal colonial legacy, in Mexico City. It lasted a year before the subsequent presidential administration took it down.

A statue of Mexicos former dictator Porfirio Daz,unveiled in 2015, also drew protests, with demonstrators at the ceremony chanting that it would come down. It is still currently standing.

Mexico has also built monuments for its national tragedies. One such site is a memorial in Mexico City for the hundreds of student demonstrators killed by government forces during the Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968, when police and armed forces opened fire on the crowd.

Another, unofficial, monument stands on Mexico Citys Paseo de la Reforma to honor the 43 missing student activists who are presumed dead after they disappeared following an attack by police in 2014.

One of the closest and most recent analogues for the U.S. push to remove Confederate statues took place in South Africa,where a student movement rose up against memorials to historical figures who promoted forced racial segregation.

A groundswell of resistance to colonial and apartheid-era monuments began in 2015, when a student at the University of Cape Town flung a bucket of excrement on a prominent statue of Cecil John Rhodes, a 19th-century imperialist who paved the way for the countrys apartheid system.

South Africas student movement against Rhodes and other colonial figures grew in size and spread to other campuses. The demonstrations eventually prompted the university to remove the Rhodes statue and forced the government to propose a plan to createcommon parks that situated the statues in a context that discussed the countrys history.

South Africas Arts and Culture Department told HuffPost South Africa on Friday that it would comment in early September on that projects progress.

The different approaches to memorializing atrocities and painful national histories show that the U.S. could address its Confederate monuments in various ways. But its possible the country will remain stuck in this debate for some time.

So far, action on Confederate statues and other controversial memorials has been piecemeal and conducted mainly at the local level, given the huge obstacles to a systematic and coherent national process of dealing with them. President Donald Trump has repeatedly opposed the removal of statues and used the issue to rile up his base.

Trump has lamented thehistory and culture of our great country being ripped apart as Confederate statues come down. He reiterated his opposition to their removal during a campaign-style rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. Polls show that the public is also splitover what to do with the statues, with a majority wanting the figures to remain in place.

But the continuous rise and fall of memorials across the world also shows that regardless of their history, monuments are not as permanent as they may seem.

Monuments are never really perpetual or built for perpetuity, theyre built to last as long as the generation that built them, Young said.

They come into being as a cultural production, theyre received, their meanings change and when time is up, they go away, he added. Just like any other human production.

Andree Lau contributed to this report from HuffPost Canada, Marc Davies contributed from HuffPost South Africa, Alexandre Boudet contributed from Le Huffington Post, Sebastian Christ contributed from HuffPost Germany, Alejandro Angeles contributed from HuffPost Mexico.

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Trump official once called defender of Holocaust deniers a ‘national treasure’ – The Times of Israel

WASHINGTON The person US President Donald Trump chose to lead federal family-planning programs once referred to a defender of Holocaust deniers as a national treasure.

Teresa Manning, Trumps pick for deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services is known for her history as a fierce anti-abortion activist and former lobbyist with the National Right to Life Committee.

She also has a history defending and praising Joe Sobran, a former columnist and editor for the conservative magazine National Review until its then editor William Buckley fired him for writings he considered contextually anti-Semitic.

Mother Jones was first to report Mannings history with Sobran, who died in 2010.

Joseph Sobran (Wike Media)

During a January 2003 event promoting her book Back to The Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement, Manning introduced Sobran, who was a speaker, and said of him: He has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements.

In fact, it was Pat Buchanan, who himself has doubted the death toll of the Holocaust and who the Anti-Defamation League has called an unrepentant bigot, who was responsible for the former quote.

During the years between Sobrans unceremonious 1993 departure from the National Review and Mannings introduction, he repeatedly defended an organization that denies the Holocaust while also churning out his own writings containing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Through columns and speeches, Sobran has spoken fondly of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), an organization best known for publishing articles and books denying the Holocaust and that scholars consider one of the leading vehicles for the international Holocaust denial movement.

Teresa Manning (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to the IHR as a pseudo-academic organization that claims to seek truth and accuracy in history, but whose real purpose is to promote Holocaust denial and defend Nazism.

Indeed, one article published in the think-tanks magazine referred to Kristallnacht as quite extraordinary.

The author, Ingrid Weckert, said it was a radical aberration from the normal pattern of daily life. The outburst was not in keeping with either the official National Socialist Jewish policy nor with the general German attitude towards the Jews. The Germans were no more anti-Semitic than any other people.

Holocaust denier David Irving (photo credit: public domain via wikipedia)

Furthermore, at its conferences, the IHR has hosted the prominent British Holocaust-denier David Irving.

The director of the IHR, Mark Weber, took issue with the characterization of the organization as denying the Holocaust, telling the Times of Israel that was not accurate.

He pointed to a passage of its mission statement, which says the group does not deny the Holocaust and has no position on any specific event or chapter of history, except to promote greater awareness and understanding, and to encourage more objective investigation.

Articles and reviews posted on the IHR website, and presentations given at IHR meetings and conferences, represent a wide range of views, it goes on. Each writer is responsible for what he or she writes or says. Accordingly, the IHR does not necessarily agree with the content or outlook of posted or distributed items.

Sobran, in defending this organization and its magazine The Journal for Historical Review, once wrote that, Charges that the IHR is anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi are belied by the Journals calm and reasonable tone, in contrast to the shrillness and violence of its enemies. And I do mean enemies.

He went on, Jewish groups, especially Zionist organizations, are forever reviling the IHR and trying to interfere with its activities.

In other writings, Sobran has not quite explicitly denied the Holocaust, but has said that questioning facts surrounding that historical event was not anti-Semitic.

Why on earth is it anti-Jewish to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not infact, intent on extermination? he asked.

Sobrans commentary provoked strong response from leading Holocaust historian and anti-Semitic expert Deborah Lipstadt, who took exception with The New York Times obituary for Sobran saying he took a skeptical line on the Holocaust.

Deborah Lipstadt (Emory University)

Mr. Sobran may not have been an unequivocal denier, she said, but he gave support and comfort to the worst of them.

Additionally, Sobran had in the past blamed US policies, particularly regarding its anti-terrorism measures after the September 11 attacks, as being dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States.

What began as a war on terror is morphing into a war to crush Israels enemies. And naturally so, he said. The 9/11 attacks would never have occurred except for the US Governments Middle East policies, which are pretty much dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United Staes. The Zionists boast privately of their power, but they dont want the gentiles talking about it. Readers of Orwell will recognize the principle of Doublethink.

Manning did not respond to a request for comment.

The article has been updated to include response from Mark Weber, the director of the Institute for Historical Review.

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Trump Appointee Praised Writer Who Defended Holocaust Deniers – Forward

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A pro-life activist whom President Trump appointed to run the Department of Health and Human Services family planning programs once praised a controversial writer who repeatedly defended Holocaust deniers and was once fired for writing columns that his own editor called anti-Semitic.

Teresa Manning, a new deputy assistant secretary at HHS, edited a book of pro-life essays in 2003, and moderated a panel discussion in Washington that year to promote it, Mother Jones magazine recounted on Monday. In her remarks, she praised Joseph Sobran, who was also speaking and had contributed to the book, saying that Sobran has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements.

However, Manning could have been aware that a few months prior, Sobran had spoken at the annual conference of the Institute for Historical Review, a prominent Holocaust denial organization. In his remarks to the IHR, Sobran claimed that The only discernible duty of Jews, it seems, is to look out for Israel. He said that he was not himself a Holocaust denier, but, he asked, Why on earth is it anti-Jewish to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination?

Because of this, The American Conservative magazine co-founded by Pat Buchanan withdrew an offer for Sobran to write a column.

Sobrans extreme views should not have been a surprise to Manning or anyone else: In 1993, he was fired by National Review, the most prominent right-wing magazine of its time, for writing articles that editor William F. Buckley called contextually anti-Semitic.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink.

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EFF warns blocking neo-Nazi sites may threaten free speech – Engadget

The Daily Stormer has long espoused racist, anti-feminist and antisemitic views, including Holocaust denial. GoDaddy only elected to drop its name registry recently, however, after it published an offensive article about Heather Heyer, who was killed during violent protests at Charlottesville. The site then shifted to Google’s hosting service, which also quickly banned it. Both companies said the site violated their terms of service by inciting violence.

In its criticism of those companies, the EFF said a “telling quote” about the situation came when Cloudfare — a service used by Stormer not for hosting, but to protect it against DDoS attacks — also dropped it. “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided that someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet,” Cloudflare’s CEO said.

The EFF acknowledged that the “situation is deeply fraught” legally and otherwise. “All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,” the EFF wrote. “But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.”

We must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with

Like the EFF, the ACLU often stands up for hate groups that no one else will defend, but its own members have criticized its defense of Charlottesville protesters. “I am deeply disturbed by the ACLU’s decision to oppose local officials in Virginia who sought not to prevent the recent Charlottesville rally but to locate it in a place that would make it easier to keep all in attendance safe,” wrote one anonymous ACLU member.

Despite the EFF’s first amendment critiques, the list of businesses that have shut out The Daily Stormer and other fascist, white supremacist and neo-Nazi sites from funding and promotion is getting large. Mastercard, Visa, American Express and PayPal have cut off payments, and music services including Spotify, Google and Deezer have vowed to remove music from hate-espousing bands.

All of those businesses operate internationally, but the EFF’s argument is based on the US First Amendment rules. Those allow just about any speech, as long as it doesn’t present a “clear and present danger.” However hate speech laws are much tougher in countries like France, Austria, Germany and Canada — Holocaust denial, for instance, is illegal in 14 nations.

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How the American right co-opted the idea of free speech – Quartz

The denial of first amendment rightsled to the political violence that we saw yesterday. That was how Jason Kessler, who organized last weekends far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, explained the actions of an extremist who rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one of them. Like many on the far right, Kessler was claiming that displays of hate needed to be protected as free speechor else.

The US constitutions first amendment protects free speech much more strongly than in most democraciesa German-style law against holocaust denial would never stand in the US, for exampleand Americans support the right to say offensive things more strongly than other nations, a Pew survey found last year. But for a long time, free speech was a core concern of the left in America, not the right.

When the National Review [a leading conservative magazine] was first published in the 1950s, the vast majority of articles addressing free speech and the first amendment were critical of free expression and its proponents, says Wayne Batchis, a professor at the University of Delaware and author of The Rights First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech & the Return of Conservative Libertarianism. Today, review of its contents reveals the precise opposite.

What prompted the shift, Batchis says, was the rise of a concept that quickly became a favorite target of the right: political correctness. As Moira Weigel wrote in The Guardian last year, the concept rose to fame in the late 1980s. After existing in leftist circles as a humorous label for excessive liberal orthodoxy, it was co-opted by the right and framed as a form of limitation of free speech.

In 1990, New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein (paywall) used political correctness to refer to what he perceived as a growing intolerance on university campuses for views that diverged from mainstream liberalism. In a span of only a few months, stories about political correctness (some even deeming it a form of fascism) became commonplace in columns and on magazine covers. Before the 1990s, Weigel reports, the term was hardly ever used in the media; in 1992, it was used 6,000 times.

The idea became a centerpiece of right-wing theory, eventually leading to the popularity of the Tea Party and the election of a president, Donald Trump, who made the shunning of political correctness a political trademark.

But fighting political correctness wasnt the only thing that encouraged conservatives to embrace free speech. Money was also an incentive. Over the past decade the party has increasingly opposed any form of campaign-finance regulation, arguing that political donations are a form of free speech. Its reward came in the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which allowed companies and trade unions to give unlimited donations to political causes. Liberals commonly oppose this view on the grounds, Batchis says, that spending money should not be treated as a form of speech.

In the event, both Republicans and Democrats have benefited from that ruling. Indeed, in last years election, Hillary Clinton raised $218 million from super PACS, the fundraising organizations that sprang up in the wake of Citizens Unitednearly three times as much as Donald Trump. During the primaries, though, the candidates for the Republican nomination collectively raised close to $400 million (paywall) from super PACs.

Conservatives have supported freedom of speech more consistently than liberals, even when its speech that goes against their views, according to Batchis. My research does suggest that even on hot-button issues like patriotism and traditional morality, many on the right have moved in a more speech-protective direction, he says. By contrast, progressives have been more likely to advocate constraints, particularly on speech that was seen as harmful to racial minorities and women, he says.

Still, there are exceptions to this rule on both sides. Many liberals still hold to the ACLU-style civil libertarian tradition even in the face of hate speech, says Batchis, while moralistic conservatives have advocated limitations on free speech such a ban on flag burning.

In the wake of Charlottesville, the California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union declared that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in protected free speech. And indeed, direct threats arent protected (pdf, pp. 3-4) by the first amendment. But to count as a threat, speech has to incite imminent lawless action, in the words of a 1969 Supreme Court ruling; merely advocating violence is allowed. That is why neo-Nazis are allowed to march, and to cast themselves as free-speech champions.

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Why you see swastikas in America but not Germany – Vox

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed horror at the racist marches that roiled Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. It is racist, far-right violence, and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens, she said on German television Monday.

She might have added that such a thing wouldnt have happened in todays Germany because its illegal.

While America protects the right of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and other hate groups to hold public rallies and express their views openly, Germany has strict laws banning Nazi symbols and whats called Volksverhetzung incitement of the people, or hate speech. Like more than a dozen European countries, Germany also has a law criminalizing Holocaust denial.

And while Confederate statues can be found in many American cities south of the Mason-Dixon Line, there are no statues of Adolph Hitler or Joseph Goebbels gracing public squares in Berlin, let alone Nazi flags or other Nazi art. Public Nazi imagery was long ago destroyed, and swastikas were long since knocked off the walls of Nazi-era buildings. The only Nazi imagery youll find is in exhibits devoted to understanding the horror of the period.

The former Gestapo headquarters complex was destroyed in the 1950s. The land it once stood on now houses the Topography of Terror, a memorial and museum made of glass and steel filled with panels that narrate the brutal history of the Nazi regime. And on streets across the country, there are small brass cobblestones called stolpersteine (literally stumbling blocks), which tell passersby brief biographical details of each man, woman, or child who was deported from that spot, that house, or that block.

The Civil War may have ended more than 150 years ago, but America is still dealing with how to reconcile, and memorialize, that dark period of its history. And while freedom of speech even vile, racist speech is an inviolate part of the US Constitutions First Amendment, Germanys commitment to facing its own dark past led that country to believe a mix of education and limiting free speech was the only way to ensure the past would remain past.

In 1945, the conquering Allied powers took control of Germany and banned the swastika, the Nazi party, and the publication of Mein Kampf, Hitlers famously anti-Semitic text, historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus explained to me.

There was a thorough effort to get rid of Nazi stragglers and Lost Cause supporters, adds historian Gavriel Rosenfeld.

In 1949, the new West German government legally codified the banning of Nazi symbols and language, as well as propaganda. As Middlebury College professor Erik Bleich explained in a 2011 article for the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on the development of hate speech and hate crimes laws, even the Heil Hitler! salute was officially banned.

But that didnt mean it all disappeared overnight. After all, millions of German who had been part of the Nazi party still lived in the country. SS veterans who had fought under an ideology that was now outlawed would meet to drink and reminisce. There was always the risk, it seemed, of backsliding, even as a new menace communism rose in the east.

It wasnt until the generation that came of age in the 1960s the baby boomers who became known in Europe as 68ers that a full reckoning of the war and a culture of Holocaust education began to take hold. Students rose up against the suppression of memory, demanding answers to what their parents had done just 25 years earlier.

A generation of criminals was ruling society after the war and no one talked about what they had done, journalist Gnter Wallraff told Deutsche Welle in 2008. Discussing their crimes was not even a part of our school lessons.

Today its mandatory in schools.

The law was also evolving. After a series of synagogues and cemeteries were vandalized, Bleich explains, the West German parliament voted unanimously in 1960 to make it illegal to incite hatred, to provoke violence, or to insult, ridicule or defame parts of the population in a manner apt to breach the peace. Over time it was broadened to include racist writing.

Gradually, this evolved into a concept called defensive democracy. The idea is that democracies might need a boost from some illiberal policies such as limits on free speech and the display of imagery, in this case, connected to the Holocaust and the Second World War in order to keep everyone free. In 2009 the law was strengthened again, when the German Constitutional Court officially ruled that a march to celebrate Nazi Rudolf Hess was illegal under Article 130 of the Penal Code, which bans anything that “approves of, glorifies or justifies the violent and despotic rule of the National Socialists.”

Our German law centers on the strong belief that you should hinder this kind of speech in a society committed to principles of democratic coexistence and peace, Matthias Jahn, a law professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, told the Washington Post this week.

Germany still struggles with neo-Nazis and the far right. But even the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the far-right German party, ran into trouble earlier this year when one of its leaders seemed to minimize the Holocaust and bashed Germanys culture of remembrance. The party voted to remove him.

By contrast, in one of our countrys most notable free speech cases, neo-Nazis were famously allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, in 1978. This was despite the fact that the choice was made to clearly hurt the large population of Holocaust survivors, and Jews, who lived there.

What Germany does is what Germany does, says University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone. They learned different lessons from history. The lesson we learned is not to trust the government to decide what speech is okay and what speech is not okay.

The First Amendment does not permit the government to forbid speech because ideas are thought to be offensive or odious. That’s a message we have learned over our history: that we don’t trust the government to make that decision.

If we had, he says, it likely would have been used against civil rights, womens rights, and LGBTQ rights.

Earlier this year, Condoleezza Rice who was the first woman African-American secretary of state in US history was asked on Fox News if she wanted the South to erase the past by taking down the monuments to Confederate leaders.

I am a firm believer in ‘keep your history before you, she told the hosts. So I don’t actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners. I want us to have to look at those names, and realize what they did, and be able to tell our kids what they did and for them to have a sense of their own history.

But unlike in Germany, where memorials to the victims of the Holocaust are erected on the ruins of Nazi buildings as a way to teach future generations about the sins and horrors of the past, most Confederate statues were designed to glorify the sins and horrors of the past.

Professor Kirt von Daacke, co-chair of the University of Virginia President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, explains that the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville was erected in 1924 as part of the apex of white supremacist rule in Virginia and the US. It was explicitly part of a project designed to claim public space for whites only and remind African Americans that they were the dominated whose lives were worthless.

Both the statue of Robert E. Lee and a nearby statue of Stonewall Jackson, he continues, were installed just after the KKK marched directly into the heart of the African-American community.

These statues, he says, were the final act in a 30-plus-year project in Virginia … eliminating African Americans from citizenship and the public sphere and erasing the history of the Civil War. He sees both of them as part of a Lost Cause mythology that itself was a whitewashing of history.

To call these statues historical is to be willfully ignorant of history, he adds. The statues are monuments to white supremacy, not to Lee, not to Jackson.

That said, not everyone agrees that the obvious answer is immediate removal.

Alfred Brophy, a law professor at the University of Alabama, wrote me he believes its generally not the right idea to remove a statue because we should not allow our country to forget that there was once a time when the people in power celebrated the Confederacy and its support of slavery.

Whitewashing took place, he explains, when the history of the South was rewritten to be about states rights rather than slavery. I think there’s a ton of validity to the argument that removal of statues facilitates forgetting, he said. Once the public space is cleared of Confederate statues, it’s easy to forget that Confederate statues once blanketed the countryside. They serve as stark reminders of the bad old days.

He worries, though, that there is a good argument for removing them after Charlottesville. When a monument serves as a contemporary rallying point, then we need to remove them, I suspect.

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Why you see swastikas in America but not Germany – Vox

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Censor white supremacy – The Week Magazine

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One of the most welcome political developments of my lifetime is the growing suspicion with which attempts to cloak even the most detestable utterances under the mantle of “free speech” is regarded.

From the misogynistic obscurantism of #GamerGate (years later I still can’t find anyone who can tell me what the “-gate” was) and the painfully unfunny parody of stand-up comedy performed on college campuses by the expatriate employer of ghostwriters known as Milo Yiannopoulos to the latter-day phrenology of the so-called alt-right and the unabashed Holocaust denial of Stormfront, there are expressions that most of us consider on their face unacceptable and undeserving of a platform. The difference is that now increasingly it looks as if people have concluded that it is our duty to make sure they are denied one. Thank God for SJWs!

This was not always the case. There is a long history in this country of making grandiose blanket defenses of freedom of speech that extend to bigots, frauds, pornographers, genocidal enthusiasts, propagators of terrorism and sedition, and kooks emotionally invested in nonsense and villainy of every conceivable variety. People who make arguments defending, say, the rights of pseudo-historians to argue that the Nazis did not murder millions of European Jews or the ancient liberty of perverts to create simulations of child pornography call themselves “free speech absolutists.” Their position has never been tenable, but it has long enjoyed a mainstream currency in the United States, in classrooms, and in the pages of newspapers and magazines and even on the bench of the Supreme Court.

This is because freedom of speech in the way that is usually discussed in this country is a cartoonish fantasy. There has never been a community in which certain ideas have not been considered open for discussion or debate. As Stanley Fish argued in his famous essay “There is no such thing as free speech, and it’s a good thing, too,” the liberal concept of freedom of speech is not some kind of immutable principle woven into the fabric of reality; it is an idea and a very new, albeit frequently misunderstood one.

As Fish points out, the ur-text for what we think of as freedom of expression, quoted on a monument familiar to those who visited the Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library, is John Milton’s 1642 treatise Aeropagitica. There the Puritan poet and pamphleteer makes many arguments that will sound familiar to Americans in the 21st century: Allowing the largest possible number of viewpoints to be expressed publicly means that we have access to more good ideas; the task of sifting through a wide range of opinions sharpens our intellects and forces us to refine our own arguments; moreover, actively proscribing certain expressions may lend them a certain kind of romantic credibility, whereas simply ignoring them will result in their being mostly ignored.

What almost no one acknowledges, except in the act of attempting to explain it away, is the following qualification, which was absolutely crucial for Milton:

I mean not tolerated Popery, and open superstition, which as it extirpats all religions and civill supremacies, so it self should be extirpat, provided first that all charitable and compassionat means be us’d to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or maners no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw it self. [Aeropagitica]

In other words, Milton argues, all free speech is acceptable except any speech that promotes the teachings of the Catholic Church or paganism or atheism. Brushing this off as mere prejudice or oversight would be a gross anachronism. Milton makes this qualification precisely because Catholicism and atheism are incompatible with the kind of society for which he is arguing. Giving Catholics or atheists a hearing would be an act of violence tearing away at the foundations of the Christian commonwealth he hoped to establish.

Very few Americans today are interested in setting up a community based on 17th-century Protestant notions of biblical morality. But Milton’s pamphlet remains relevant. All societies have certain organizing principles. Freedom of speech is not a first-order good; it exists only to facilitate the flourishing of the society along the lines established by those principles. In America today one of those principles is that discrimination based on race is immoral; people who disagree with this have only one goal creating a society in which it is not one of those principles. If we do not want to allow this to happen, we should not permit anyone to argue in favor of it.

To pretend otherwise and posture on behalf of the abstract rights of racist crank is not, as “absolutists” pretend, to defend speech but to demean it, to diminish it to the level of undifferentiated random noise. This is because every act of expression takes place against the invisible backdrop of all the expressions not taking place; an argument in the pages of The Washington Post about a murder assumes that murder is a crime, and it would not occur to the reporter that, when seeking comment from the police department and the suspect’s attorney, he should also solicit the opinions of a hypothetical man in Arkansas who thinks that murder should not be a crime. To fail to see how any given act of speech only makes sense in the absence of other possible but absolutely inadmissible expressions is childish. Assuming that a new scholarly biography of Hitler and Holocaust-denying memes traded by basement dwellers on the internet are both “speech,” expressions of potentially equal value whose worth is ultimate determined by what readers decide to make of them, is not an exercise in tolerance; it is nihilism.

Which brings us to the recent decisions by Go Daddy and Google to deny the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, a home on their web hosting platforms. I have yet to see anyone find fault with this decision even though realistically speaking it amounts to censorship. This is in itself a good thing, though few people have acknowledged it as such. At present it is easy to ignore the elephant in the room by saying that these are private companies free to make their own decisions about what viewpoints can be expressed on web servers that they own and control. But there are only so many web hosting services. Suppose no one was willing to offer these Hitler fanboys room to air their grievances with African-Americans and Jews on the internet suppose that they could find no publisher willing to reproduce their pamphlets and no one willing to sell them a Xerox machine and paper to distribute them on their own?

Would it still be okay? Why is it reasonable to pretend that an action that is licit and even commendable when taken by a corporation that will soon be worth $1 trillion would be unjust if an ill-defined entity called “the state” undertook it? The world in which the government enjoys a monopoly on coercion and corporations are not state entities whose actions would not be possible without a vast infrastructure and legal apparatus in which they operate is a fantasy. The procedural question of who is responsible for the censorship is beside the point. The only relevant one is whether it is laudable.

I for one am happy that the Daily Stormer is gone. People who agree with me need to ask themselves why they would have found it upsetting if the Department of Justice had shut it down.

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Censor white supremacy – The Week Magazine

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Death of a Holocaust denier: With Zundel’s passing, what can we take away? – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, counsels the book of Proverbs.

That may have been a hard sell when news of Ernst Zundels death in Germany reached Canada earlier this month.

Zundel, whos been described as the worlds foremost purveyor of Holocaust denial literature, wrote titles such as, The Hitler We Loved and Why, and distributed hate literature, including Richard Harwoods 1974 booklet, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth At Last.

Zundel delighted in his notoriety and needled the Jewish community with glee. From his infamous bunker in Torontos Cabbagetown neighbourhood, he continued to publish viciously anti-Semitic tracts and courted publicity relentlessly, even running for the federal Liberal leadership in 1968. In the days before the Internet, media exposure was his oxygen.

In time, serious debate arose in Jewish circles over whether legal action should be taken. Hardly anyone said Zundel shouldnt be punished. The issue was whether going public would provide him with the platform he craved and embolden his fellow neo-Nazis, and whether, in the long run, it would hurt the community. Was it better to let him and his dark ideas shrivel in the light of truth, or to try to bring the full extent of the law down upon him?

Numerous prominent voices, including civil libertarian Alan Borovoy and high-profile criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan, spoke out against prosecution.

In the end, Zundel faced two trials that resulted in convictions and an ultimate acquittal when the Supreme Court of Canada narrowly struck down the false news section of the Criminal Code, under which he was charged. It was his native Germany that finally jailed him for inciting racial hatred.

READ: WHITE SUPREMACY SEXUALIZED: THE YOUNG, FEMALE FACES OF HATE

But those who recall the Toronto trials, in 1985 and 1988, will also remember the blaring newspaper headlines of swimming pools at Auschwitz and no evidence of gas chambers. That hurt many in the Jewish community and seemed to vindicate those who had warned against using open courts.

With Zundels demise comes questions that have had the benefit of 30 years consideration:

Was it, in the end, a good idea to prosecute him? Did his hatred help raise awareness of the Holocaust for the better? And just what is his legacy?

Zundels lifework of denying the Holocaust was an abject failure, stated Sidney Zoltak, co-president of Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants.

Prosecuting Zundel under the false news prohibition, rather than hate laws, may have been unwise

Today, Holocaust education is firmly entrenched in school curricula around the world and Holocaust remembrance is ingrained in Western culture, Zoltak told The CJN in an email. The memory of the Holocaust will long outlast Zundels legacy of anti-Semitism, hatred and evil.

In Zundels heyday, Prof. Michael Marrus, a historian at the University of Toronto, was one of the people who advised against prosecution.

The legal route left a bad taste among civil libertarians and others who feared it handed Zundel and his acolytes the publicity they craved, Marrus recalled.

Arguably, the better path was to instil consciousness of the Holocaust through the weapons of history and memory: survivors testimony, research, writing and education, he added.

As he did in the 1980s, Marrus argued that putting hatemongers in jail, or banning them from speaking, are among the least successful strategies for dealing with them.

Even so, knowledge of the Holocaust is now powerfully anchored in the collective consciousness, Marrus said. Zundels name, he conceded, is on the road to a justified oblivion.

Prosecuting Zundel under the false news prohibition, rather than hate laws, may have been unwise, said McGill University sociologist Morton Weinfeld.

On the other hand, there is evidence that media coverage of Zundel and, contemporaneously, of the trial of Holocaust-denying Alberta schoolteacher James Keegstra, did not increase anti-Semitism, and in fact helped raise awareness of the threat of Holocaust denial in the Canadian Jewish and general public, Weinfeld said.

READ: ZUNDELS GONE, BUT WE MUST NEVER STOP FIGHTING PURVEYORS OF HATE

Zundel changed Canadian law, but was it for the better?

Section 181 of the Criminal Code, under which he was charged, stated that anyone who wilfully publishes a statement, tale or news that he knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the section infringed on freedom of expression as outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The court could not have foreseen that 25 years later, false news would morph into fake news.

The courts ruling pretty well cemented in place the concept that its hard under the Criminal Code to get a conviction on the falseness of words written or spoken. Its not impossible, but its hard, said lawyer Mark Freiman, a former deputy attorney-general of Ontario and the last president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Zundels actions led people to re-discover the Canadian Human Rights Act

On the other hand, Zundel awakened people to the need to do something about language, the kind of activity he was engaged in and the demonstrable harm this kind of propaganda can have, Freiman said.

In 2013, there were two legal milestones related to issues seen in Zundels case. The Supreme Court ruled that hate speech provisions in Canadian human rights legislation is a constitutionally valid limit on freedom of expression. The court upheld the controversial legal concept of speech that is likely to expose certain groups to hatred.

That summer, free speech advocates claimed victory when a private members bill calling for the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act the so-called hate speech provision passed and became law. Its passage meant that Canadians could no longer bring complaints to the federal Human Rights Commission over the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.

It was under Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act that Zundel was taken to the Canadian Human Rights Commission over his website, but he fled to the United States before the commission could wrap up its work.

Zundels actions led people to re-discover the Canadian Human Rights Act, Freiman said. He narrowed whats available under criminal law, but expanded whats available under other administrative areas but only if governments enact them, he noted.

What would happen if Zundel were charged under todays hate laws?

It would be very difficult to get a conviction under hate speech laws, said Freiman. I dont think that much has changed.

For Torontos Max Eisen, an Auschwitz survivor who has accompanied March of the Living groups back to the death camp more than 20 times, Zundels legacy is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, Zundel got Eisen and other survivors out on the speaking circuit. He was a wake-up call for me, Eisen said. I got involved and started to talk in the early 1990s.

But today, we have many Zundels around, and how we get used to these things, it just frightens me, he lamented. Im shocked every day when the lies become truth. We need to stand up and speak out.

In the end, Zundels legacy may not amount to much. I dont think Zundel left a legacy, unless it was just for the skinheads and people who believed the Holocaust never happened. But for the public in general, I think hes a nobody, said well-known Toronto Holocaust survivor and educator Gerda Frieberg.

That sentiment seemed to be echoed by Prof. Marrus, who said he suspects the first question his students will ask is: Ernst who?

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Death of a Holocaust denier: With Zundel’s passing, what can we take away? – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

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Survivors speak at The Last Bookstore, despite online harassment – Jewish Journal

Despite online harassment by an alt-right provocateur, two Holocaust survivors told their stories of triumph over evil, as planned, to a standing-room-only crowd at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 19. The appearance by Robert Geminder and Gabriella Karin came 11 days after a person who writes under the name Johnny Benitez posted a Facebook link for the event with the tagline: Who wants to bet money this is another white guilt push. Lesson 1: white people are bad and its good theyre an ever increasing minority. After the events organizer, Jennifer Brack, told Benitez he was not welcome, Benitez whose real name is Juan Cadavid, according to a report by the OC Weekly posted a video encouraging his followers to attend the event. At the advice of the Anti-Defamation League, Brack hired a pair of armed guards and proceeded with the event, the third in a series called Lessons of the Past, survivor speaker engagements organized by Brack with the help of the American Society for Yad Vashem. The audience of about 300 people, who sat on folding chairs and the floor, was attentive, respectful and engaged. And after Geminder and Karin spoke, a long line formed with well-wishers who praised their eloquence and courage. People more than ever these days want to hear survivors, Karin told the Journal before she spoke. They want reassurance that people will go out and speak in spite of the threats. Karin, 86, and Geminder, 82, are a couple. They began dating in 2015 after both had lost their spouses to illness years before. They briefly wondered how they should proceed with the speaking event after they learned about the harassment, but they never gave a second thought to pulling out. Im not afraid, Karin said. Maybe because of what we went through, nothing makes me afraid. Even so, she and Geminder were perturbed with the harassment, which came a week after white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va. one of the largest such demonstrations in a decade, according to the ADL. When we see a Nazi flag like we saw over the weekend in Charlottesville, it just tears us apart, Geminder said. Both survivors tell their stories around the world, and neither has experienced any kind of harassment, online or otherwise, before the posts from Benitez. At the event, as they have done hundreds of times before, the two carefully told the stories of their experiences and shared the lessons they have drawn from them. Geminder was born in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1935. He saw as many as 14,000 Jews massacred at the cemetery in Stanislawow but managed to survive, he said, by pure luck. He and his brother, mother and stepfather were in Warsaw when the Warsaw Uprising was quelled. The Nazis put them in a cattle car on a train headed to the Auschwitz concentration camp, but the family was able to escape through an opening in the roof of the car within a hundred yards of the camp. Karin was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1930, and spent the Holocaust in hiding, successfully sheltered by her mothers underground contacts and the help of a righteous gentile named Karol Blanar. Neither survivor mentioned Benitezs harassment at the bookstore event. I dont want to make anyone else aware of the negatives, Geminder said. I want to focus on the positives. Meanwhile, as Geminder and Karin were speaking, Benitez was at a Laguna Beach event he organized called America First! Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees, according to his posts on Facebook. Benitez, whose recent web exploits included posting a manipulated photo that made it appear the Jewish mayor of Laguna Beach was wearing a Nazi uniform, has long been on the radar of Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher at the ADLs Center on Extremism. Benitez does not have a history of violence, but some of his known associates, who include skinheads and antigovernment extremists, do, she said. In the video Benitez posted about the survivors event, a framed photograph of various guns is visible in the background as he talks about how the L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is involved in a Jewish conspiracy to use the Holocaust to antagonize white people. Why is it so concurrent that the anti-white narrative and the anti-Trump narrative is so closely tied to these events that push the Holocaust and white privilege and white guilt? he says in the video, which he streamed live simultaneously on Facebook and the social media site Periscope. Mendelson, who has followed Benitezs rising profile within the alt-right, said he has a fixation with Jews that borders on Holocaust denial. After he posted the video, in which he holds up an iPad with Bracks Facebook profile on it, the ADL encouraged her to take basic precautions such as contacting law enforcement. Although no direct threats of violence were made against the organizer, we still wanted to make sure that law enforcement were in the loop and to help safeguard this gathering, Mendelson said. It is a sad state of affairs when individuals who have been traumatized by the Holocaust are in some ways revictimized by anti-Semitic and hateful racist thought leaders. Contacted via Facebook Messenger, Benitez told the Journal he wanted his followers to observe and report the narrative from the bookstore event. He said he first learned about the event through a Facebook ad. Asked if he denied the Holocaust or questioned its magnitude, Benitez was evasive. I dont address the holocaust. I view any attempt to lure people into discussions about it to be Red Herrings, he wrote, not acknowledging the fact that he brought the Holocaust history event to the attention of his nearly 2,000 Facebook friends and followers. At The Last Bookstore, during the question-and-answer period, audience members wanted to know how Geminder and Karin felt about the recent events in Charlottesville, where swastikas were abundant and men yelling Sieg Heil marched in front of a synagogue. It was a nightmare for us, Geminder said. I can imagine how every one of you must have felt. Imagine a hundredfold how survivors felt during this. When we came to America, we never expected to see that again. Never, never, never. Even with the recent news events, both Geminder, a retired electrical engineer and part-time math teacher, and Karin, an artist and former fashion designer, said they are avowed optimists. Karin recounted for the audience the moment after World War II when she decided she would move on from the trauma of the Holocaust to have a full and active life. She was standing on the platform of a train station in her native Bratislava, now the capital of Slovakia, as emaciated Jewish refugees streamed into the city. I decided to myself, Hitler did not get my body; he will not get my soul. I will smile. I will be happy, she told the audience. And I am.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

How Do Other Nations Memorialize Their Past Atrocities? – HuffPost

The United States is once again grappling with what to do about public symbols of the Confederacy as they become rallying points for white supremacists. The debate intensified this month after a woman was killed and dozens were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white supremacist demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen.Robert E. Lee. City councils and universities have since moved to take downseveral controversial monuments, while demonstrators have toppled others. Although the debate over Confederate statues is uniquely American, the broader question of how a nation should memorialize painful or divisive parts of its past is an issue that numerous countries still struggle to address. Some have chosen to outright remove monuments or notorious buildings, while others have recontextualized them or built new ones in their place. Whatever the outcome, the process is often contentious. Most countries have been pretty reluctant or just dont know how to commemorate periods of shame or national crimes perpetrated in the national name. No country is very good at it, and we havent been very good at it, either, said James E. Young, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has consulted for governments on how to memorialize their pasts. In Europe, many post-Soviet states have chosen to take down the statues of Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin that dotted their cities under communist rule. Ukraine, for instance, has removed over a thousandLenin statues following the ouster of its pro-Russia president in 2014. But some former communist states have instead decided to move their Soviet-era monuments somewhere else or alter them to connote new meaning. Hungary keeps many of its communist-era statues in a memorial park, a move Taiwan also favoredfor statues of its former leader Chiang Kai-shek. In other cases, citizens have taken it upon themselves to respond. In 1991, a young Czech artist in Prague painteda Soviet World War II-era tank monument entirely pink. The artist was arrested for vandalism, but members of Parliament repainted the tank to protest his detention. In countries like Italy and Spain, where brick-and-mortar remnants of fascist rule are still standing, architectural works and even human remains have been a source of debate. Spanish Parliament passed a nonbindingvote in May urging the removal of former dictator Francisco Francos body from a public tomb something that has yet to occur. France, meanwhile, bans any monument to its Nazi-collaborating Vichy government, and as of 2013,every street name featuring Vichy leader Philippe Ptain had been changed. Nowhere in Europe, however, has had to confront its past crimes on the same scale as Germany. The countrys reckoning for World War II and the Holocaust has led to the preservation of some sites, such as Auschwitz, while most other symbols of Nazi rule were systematically destroyed or banned. It is currently illegal for Germans to display any symbols associated with Nazism or Adolf Hitler, with a few exceptions for artistic purposes. Holocaust denial, too, is a prosecutable offense. Along with the removal of monuments to the Third Reich, Germany has also built memorials and museums that commemorate the victims of Nazism. Seeking to counteract the grandiose monuments the Nazis built, some of the memorials have taken on more experimental forms. The city of Hamburg erected the Monument Against Fascism in 1986, consisting of a 39-foot pillar upon which citizens were invited to engrave their names in solidarity. When a portion of the pillar was filled up with signatures, that section was lowered into the ground, bringing an unmarked section down and starting the process again until eventually the whole pillar was completely gone. The work took seven years and ended with the erection of a plaque commemorating the monument that stated,In the end it is only we ourselves who can stand up against injustice. Germany has also created federally funded projects to atone for its past. In the mid-1990s, the country held competitions to design a memorial for the 6 million Jewish people killed by the Nazis. It sparked a fierce debate as artists and politicians argued over how it was possible to properly memorialize the Holocaust. One of the artist submissions for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe even proposed that Germany destroy Berlins famous Brandenburg Gate and sprinkle the dust over the monument site, then cover the area with granite plates. The concept aimed to memorialize the void left by the Holocaust with another absence. The design ultimately chosen, created by architect Peter Eisenman, opened in 2005 and features thousands of concrete, tomb-like slabs rising from the ground on an uneven plane. Meanwhile, across Canada, there are small monuments that focus on healing and understanding of Canadas Holocaust, whichripped 150,000 indigenous children from their families and placed them in residential schools under the guise of education. The policy which the U.S. also pursued began in the 19th century and continued in some form until the last school was finally closed in 1996. The children died from malnutrition and other horrific conditions, and generations were traumatized by the institutions legacy of sexual and physical abuse. Recent Canadian initiatives have focused less on building memorials and more on removing monuments or tributes to notorious or polarizing historic figures. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeaurenamed the Langevin Block, whichhouses his office. The buildings namesake was Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the architects of the residential school system. The city of Calgary also renamed the Langevin Bridge this year. In Mexico, sites honoring controversial figures from the countrys past have also become targets for removal or public ire. In 1981, President Jos Lpez Portillo installed a statue of Spanish conquistador Hernn Corts, who carries a brutal colonial legacy, in Mexico City. It lasted a year before the subsequent presidential administration took it down. A statue of Mexicos former dictator Porfirio Daz,unveiled in 2015, also drew protests, with demonstrators at the ceremony chanting that it would come down. It is still currently standing. Mexico has also built monuments for its national tragedies. One such site is a memorial in Mexico City for the hundreds of student demonstrators killed by government forces during the Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968, when police and armed forces opened fire on the crowd. Another, unofficial, monument stands on Mexico Citys Paseo de la Reforma to honor the 43 missing student activists who are presumed dead after they disappeared following an attack by police in 2014. One of the closest and most recent analogues for the U.S. push to remove Confederate statues took place in South Africa,where a student movement rose up against memorials to historical figures who promoted forced racial segregation. A groundswell of resistance to colonial and apartheid-era monuments began in 2015, when a student at the University of Cape Town flung a bucket of excrement on a prominent statue of Cecil John Rhodes, a 19th-century imperialist who paved the way for the countrys apartheid system. South Africas student movement against Rhodes and other colonial figures grew in size and spread to other campuses. The demonstrations eventually prompted the university to remove the Rhodes statue and forced the government to propose a plan to createcommon parks that situated the statues in a context that discussed the countrys history. South Africas Arts and Culture Department told HuffPost South Africa on Friday that it would comment in early September on that projects progress. The different approaches to memorializing atrocities and painful national histories show that the U.S. could address its Confederate monuments in various ways. But its possible the country will remain stuck in this debate for some time. So far, action on Confederate statues and other controversial memorials has been piecemeal and conducted mainly at the local level, given the huge obstacles to a systematic and coherent national process of dealing with them. President Donald Trump has repeatedly opposed the removal of statues and used the issue to rile up his base. Trump has lamented thehistory and culture of our great country being ripped apart as Confederate statues come down. He reiterated his opposition to their removal during a campaign-style rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. Polls show that the public is also splitover what to do with the statues, with a majority wanting the figures to remain in place. But the continuous rise and fall of memorials across the world also shows that regardless of their history, monuments are not as permanent as they may seem. Monuments are never really perpetual or built for perpetuity, theyre built to last as long as the generation that built them, Young said. They come into being as a cultural production, theyre received, their meanings change and when time is up, they go away, he added. Just like any other human production. Andree Lau contributed to this report from HuffPost Canada, Marc Davies contributed from HuffPost South Africa, Alexandre Boudet contributed from Le Huffington Post, Sebastian Christ contributed from HuffPost Germany, Alejandro Angeles contributed from HuffPost Mexico. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Trump official once called defender of Holocaust deniers a ‘national treasure’ – The Times of Israel

WASHINGTON The person US President Donald Trump chose to lead federal family-planning programs once referred to a defender of Holocaust deniers as a national treasure. Teresa Manning, Trumps pick for deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services is known for her history as a fierce anti-abortion activist and former lobbyist with the National Right to Life Committee. She also has a history defending and praising Joe Sobran, a former columnist and editor for the conservative magazine National Review until its then editor William Buckley fired him for writings he considered contextually anti-Semitic. Mother Jones was first to report Mannings history with Sobran, who died in 2010. Joseph Sobran (Wike Media) During a January 2003 event promoting her book Back to The Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement, Manning introduced Sobran, who was a speaker, and said of him: He has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements. In fact, it was Pat Buchanan, who himself has doubted the death toll of the Holocaust and who the Anti-Defamation League has called an unrepentant bigot, who was responsible for the former quote. During the years between Sobrans unceremonious 1993 departure from the National Review and Mannings introduction, he repeatedly defended an organization that denies the Holocaust while also churning out his own writings containing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Through columns and speeches, Sobran has spoken fondly of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), an organization best known for publishing articles and books denying the Holocaust and that scholars consider one of the leading vehicles for the international Holocaust denial movement. Teresa Manning (Screenshot/YouTube) The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to the IHR as a pseudo-academic organization that claims to seek truth and accuracy in history, but whose real purpose is to promote Holocaust denial and defend Nazism. Indeed, one article published in the think-tanks magazine referred to Kristallnacht as quite extraordinary. The author, Ingrid Weckert, said it was a radical aberration from the normal pattern of daily life. The outburst was not in keeping with either the official National Socialist Jewish policy nor with the general German attitude towards the Jews. The Germans were no more anti-Semitic than any other people. Holocaust denier David Irving (photo credit: public domain via wikipedia) Furthermore, at its conferences, the IHR has hosted the prominent British Holocaust-denier David Irving. The director of the IHR, Mark Weber, took issue with the characterization of the organization as denying the Holocaust, telling the Times of Israel that was not accurate. He pointed to a passage of its mission statement, which says the group does not deny the Holocaust and has no position on any specific event or chapter of history, except to promote greater awareness and understanding, and to encourage more objective investigation. Articles and reviews posted on the IHR website, and presentations given at IHR meetings and conferences, represent a wide range of views, it goes on. Each writer is responsible for what he or she writes or says. Accordingly, the IHR does not necessarily agree with the content or outlook of posted or distributed items. Sobran, in defending this organization and its magazine The Journal for Historical Review, once wrote that, Charges that the IHR is anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi are belied by the Journals calm and reasonable tone, in contrast to the shrillness and violence of its enemies. And I do mean enemies. He went on, Jewish groups, especially Zionist organizations, are forever reviling the IHR and trying to interfere with its activities. In other writings, Sobran has not quite explicitly denied the Holocaust, but has said that questioning facts surrounding that historical event was not anti-Semitic. Why on earth is it anti-Jewish to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not infact, intent on extermination? he asked. Sobrans commentary provoked strong response from leading Holocaust historian and anti-Semitic expert Deborah Lipstadt, who took exception with The New York Times obituary for Sobran saying he took a skeptical line on the Holocaust. Deborah Lipstadt (Emory University) Mr. Sobran may not have been an unequivocal denier, she said, but he gave support and comfort to the worst of them. Additionally, Sobran had in the past blamed US policies, particularly regarding its anti-terrorism measures after the September 11 attacks, as being dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States. What began as a war on terror is morphing into a war to crush Israels enemies. And naturally so, he said. The 9/11 attacks would never have occurred except for the US Governments Middle East policies, which are pretty much dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United Staes. The Zionists boast privately of their power, but they dont want the gentiles talking about it. Readers of Orwell will recognize the principle of Doublethink. Manning did not respond to a request for comment. The article has been updated to include response from Mark Weber, the director of the Institute for Historical Review.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Trump Appointee Praised Writer Who Defended Holocaust Deniers – Forward

C-SPAN A pro-life activist whom President Trump appointed to run the Department of Health and Human Services family planning programs once praised a controversial writer who repeatedly defended Holocaust deniers and was once fired for writing columns that his own editor called anti-Semitic. Teresa Manning, a new deputy assistant secretary at HHS, edited a book of pro-life essays in 2003, and moderated a panel discussion in Washington that year to promote it, Mother Jones magazine recounted on Monday. In her remarks, she praised Joseph Sobran, who was also speaking and had contributed to the book, saying that Sobran has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements. However, Manning could have been aware that a few months prior, Sobran had spoken at the annual conference of the Institute for Historical Review, a prominent Holocaust denial organization. In his remarks to the IHR, Sobran claimed that The only discernible duty of Jews, it seems, is to look out for Israel. He said that he was not himself a Holocaust denier, but, he asked, Why on earth is it anti-Jewish to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination? Because of this, The American Conservative magazine co-founded by Pat Buchanan withdrew an offer for Sobran to write a column. Sobrans extreme views should not have been a surprise to Manning or anyone else: In 1993, he was fired by National Review, the most prominent right-wing magazine of its time, for writing articles that editor William F. Buckley called contextually anti-Semitic. Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

EFF warns blocking neo-Nazi sites may threaten free speech – Engadget

The Daily Stormer has long espoused racist, anti-feminist and antisemitic views, including Holocaust denial. GoDaddy only elected to drop its name registry recently, however, after it published an offensive article about Heather Heyer, who was killed during violent protests at Charlottesville. The site then shifted to Google’s hosting service, which also quickly banned it. Both companies said the site violated their terms of service by inciting violence. In its criticism of those companies, the EFF said a “telling quote” about the situation came when Cloudfare — a service used by Stormer not for hosting, but to protect it against DDoS attacks — also dropped it. “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided that someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet,” Cloudflare’s CEO said. The EFF acknowledged that the “situation is deeply fraught” legally and otherwise. “All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,” the EFF wrote. “But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.” We must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with Like the EFF, the ACLU often stands up for hate groups that no one else will defend, but its own members have criticized its defense of Charlottesville protesters. “I am deeply disturbed by the ACLU’s decision to oppose local officials in Virginia who sought not to prevent the recent Charlottesville rally but to locate it in a place that would make it easier to keep all in attendance safe,” wrote one anonymous ACLU member. Despite the EFF’s first amendment critiques, the list of businesses that have shut out The Daily Stormer and other fascist, white supremacist and neo-Nazi sites from funding and promotion is getting large. Mastercard, Visa, American Express and PayPal have cut off payments, and music services including Spotify, Google and Deezer have vowed to remove music from hate-espousing bands. All of those businesses operate internationally, but the EFF’s argument is based on the US First Amendment rules. Those allow just about any speech, as long as it doesn’t present a “clear and present danger.” However hate speech laws are much tougher in countries like France, Austria, Germany and Canada — Holocaust denial, for instance, is illegal in 14 nations.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

How the American right co-opted the idea of free speech – Quartz

The denial of first amendment rightsled to the political violence that we saw yesterday. That was how Jason Kessler, who organized last weekends far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, explained the actions of an extremist who rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one of them. Like many on the far right, Kessler was claiming that displays of hate needed to be protected as free speechor else. The US constitutions first amendment protects free speech much more strongly than in most democraciesa German-style law against holocaust denial would never stand in the US, for exampleand Americans support the right to say offensive things more strongly than other nations, a Pew survey found last year. But for a long time, free speech was a core concern of the left in America, not the right. When the National Review [a leading conservative magazine] was first published in the 1950s, the vast majority of articles addressing free speech and the first amendment were critical of free expression and its proponents, says Wayne Batchis, a professor at the University of Delaware and author of The Rights First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech & the Return of Conservative Libertarianism. Today, review of its contents reveals the precise opposite. What prompted the shift, Batchis says, was the rise of a concept that quickly became a favorite target of the right: political correctness. As Moira Weigel wrote in The Guardian last year, the concept rose to fame in the late 1980s. After existing in leftist circles as a humorous label for excessive liberal orthodoxy, it was co-opted by the right and framed as a form of limitation of free speech. In 1990, New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein (paywall) used political correctness to refer to what he perceived as a growing intolerance on university campuses for views that diverged from mainstream liberalism. In a span of only a few months, stories about political correctness (some even deeming it a form of fascism) became commonplace in columns and on magazine covers. Before the 1990s, Weigel reports, the term was hardly ever used in the media; in 1992, it was used 6,000 times. The idea became a centerpiece of right-wing theory, eventually leading to the popularity of the Tea Party and the election of a president, Donald Trump, who made the shunning of political correctness a political trademark. But fighting political correctness wasnt the only thing that encouraged conservatives to embrace free speech. Money was also an incentive. Over the past decade the party has increasingly opposed any form of campaign-finance regulation, arguing that political donations are a form of free speech. Its reward came in the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which allowed companies and trade unions to give unlimited donations to political causes. Liberals commonly oppose this view on the grounds, Batchis says, that spending money should not be treated as a form of speech. In the event, both Republicans and Democrats have benefited from that ruling. Indeed, in last years election, Hillary Clinton raised $218 million from super PACS, the fundraising organizations that sprang up in the wake of Citizens Unitednearly three times as much as Donald Trump. During the primaries, though, the candidates for the Republican nomination collectively raised close to $400 million (paywall) from super PACs. Conservatives have supported freedom of speech more consistently than liberals, even when its speech that goes against their views, according to Batchis. My research does suggest that even on hot-button issues like patriotism and traditional morality, many on the right have moved in a more speech-protective direction, he says. By contrast, progressives have been more likely to advocate constraints, particularly on speech that was seen as harmful to racial minorities and women, he says. Still, there are exceptions to this rule on both sides. Many liberals still hold to the ACLU-style civil libertarian tradition even in the face of hate speech, says Batchis, while moralistic conservatives have advocated limitations on free speech such a ban on flag burning. In the wake of Charlottesville, the California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union declared that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in protected free speech. And indeed, direct threats arent protected (pdf, pp. 3-4) by the first amendment. But to count as a threat, speech has to incite imminent lawless action, in the words of a 1969 Supreme Court ruling; merely advocating violence is allowed. That is why neo-Nazis are allowed to march, and to cast themselves as free-speech champions.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Why you see swastikas in America but not Germany – Vox

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed horror at the racist marches that roiled Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. It is racist, far-right violence, and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens, she said on German television Monday. She might have added that such a thing wouldnt have happened in todays Germany because its illegal. While America protects the right of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and other hate groups to hold public rallies and express their views openly, Germany has strict laws banning Nazi symbols and whats called Volksverhetzung incitement of the people, or hate speech. Like more than a dozen European countries, Germany also has a law criminalizing Holocaust denial. And while Confederate statues can be found in many American cities south of the Mason-Dixon Line, there are no statues of Adolph Hitler or Joseph Goebbels gracing public squares in Berlin, let alone Nazi flags or other Nazi art. Public Nazi imagery was long ago destroyed, and swastikas were long since knocked off the walls of Nazi-era buildings. The only Nazi imagery youll find is in exhibits devoted to understanding the horror of the period. The former Gestapo headquarters complex was destroyed in the 1950s. The land it once stood on now houses the Topography of Terror, a memorial and museum made of glass and steel filled with panels that narrate the brutal history of the Nazi regime. And on streets across the country, there are small brass cobblestones called stolpersteine (literally stumbling blocks), which tell passersby brief biographical details of each man, woman, or child who was deported from that spot, that house, or that block. The Civil War may have ended more than 150 years ago, but America is still dealing with how to reconcile, and memorialize, that dark period of its history. And while freedom of speech even vile, racist speech is an inviolate part of the US Constitutions First Amendment, Germanys commitment to facing its own dark past led that country to believe a mix of education and limiting free speech was the only way to ensure the past would remain past. In 1945, the conquering Allied powers took control of Germany and banned the swastika, the Nazi party, and the publication of Mein Kampf, Hitlers famously anti-Semitic text, historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus explained to me. There was a thorough effort to get rid of Nazi stragglers and Lost Cause supporters, adds historian Gavriel Rosenfeld. In 1949, the new West German government legally codified the banning of Nazi symbols and language, as well as propaganda. As Middlebury College professor Erik Bleich explained in a 2011 article for the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on the development of hate speech and hate crimes laws, even the Heil Hitler! salute was officially banned. But that didnt mean it all disappeared overnight. After all, millions of German who had been part of the Nazi party still lived in the country. SS veterans who had fought under an ideology that was now outlawed would meet to drink and reminisce. There was always the risk, it seemed, of backsliding, even as a new menace communism rose in the east. It wasnt until the generation that came of age in the 1960s the baby boomers who became known in Europe as 68ers that a full reckoning of the war and a culture of Holocaust education began to take hold. Students rose up against the suppression of memory, demanding answers to what their parents had done just 25 years earlier. A generation of criminals was ruling society after the war and no one talked about what they had done, journalist Gnter Wallraff told Deutsche Welle in 2008. Discussing their crimes was not even a part of our school lessons. Today its mandatory in schools. The law was also evolving. After a series of synagogues and cemeteries were vandalized, Bleich explains, the West German parliament voted unanimously in 1960 to make it illegal to incite hatred, to provoke violence, or to insult, ridicule or defame parts of the population in a manner apt to breach the peace. Over time it was broadened to include racist writing. Gradually, this evolved into a concept called defensive democracy. The idea is that democracies might need a boost from some illiberal policies such as limits on free speech and the display of imagery, in this case, connected to the Holocaust and the Second World War in order to keep everyone free. In 2009 the law was strengthened again, when the German Constitutional Court officially ruled that a march to celebrate Nazi Rudolf Hess was illegal under Article 130 of the Penal Code, which bans anything that “approves of, glorifies or justifies the violent and despotic rule of the National Socialists.” Our German law centers on the strong belief that you should hinder this kind of speech in a society committed to principles of democratic coexistence and peace, Matthias Jahn, a law professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, told the Washington Post this week. Germany still struggles with neo-Nazis and the far right. But even the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the far-right German party, ran into trouble earlier this year when one of its leaders seemed to minimize the Holocaust and bashed Germanys culture of remembrance. The party voted to remove him. By contrast, in one of our countrys most notable free speech cases, neo-Nazis were famously allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, in 1978. This was despite the fact that the choice was made to clearly hurt the large population of Holocaust survivors, and Jews, who lived there. What Germany does is what Germany does, says University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone. They learned different lessons from history. The lesson we learned is not to trust the government to decide what speech is okay and what speech is not okay. The First Amendment does not permit the government to forbid speech because ideas are thought to be offensive or odious. That’s a message we have learned over our history: that we don’t trust the government to make that decision. If we had, he says, it likely would have been used against civil rights, womens rights, and LGBTQ rights. Earlier this year, Condoleezza Rice who was the first woman African-American secretary of state in US history was asked on Fox News if she wanted the South to erase the past by taking down the monuments to Confederate leaders. I am a firm believer in ‘keep your history before you, she told the hosts. So I don’t actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners. I want us to have to look at those names, and realize what they did, and be able to tell our kids what they did and for them to have a sense of their own history. But unlike in Germany, where memorials to the victims of the Holocaust are erected on the ruins of Nazi buildings as a way to teach future generations about the sins and horrors of the past, most Confederate statues were designed to glorify the sins and horrors of the past. Professor Kirt von Daacke, co-chair of the University of Virginia President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, explains that the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville was erected in 1924 as part of the apex of white supremacist rule in Virginia and the US. It was explicitly part of a project designed to claim public space for whites only and remind African Americans that they were the dominated whose lives were worthless. Both the statue of Robert E. Lee and a nearby statue of Stonewall Jackson, he continues, were installed just after the KKK marched directly into the heart of the African-American community. These statues, he says, were the final act in a 30-plus-year project in Virginia … eliminating African Americans from citizenship and the public sphere and erasing the history of the Civil War. He sees both of them as part of a Lost Cause mythology that itself was a whitewashing of history. To call these statues historical is to be willfully ignorant of history, he adds. The statues are monuments to white supremacy, not to Lee, not to Jackson. That said, not everyone agrees that the obvious answer is immediate removal. Alfred Brophy, a law professor at the University of Alabama, wrote me he believes its generally not the right idea to remove a statue because we should not allow our country to forget that there was once a time when the people in power celebrated the Confederacy and its support of slavery. Whitewashing took place, he explains, when the history of the South was rewritten to be about states rights rather than slavery. I think there’s a ton of validity to the argument that removal of statues facilitates forgetting, he said. Once the public space is cleared of Confederate statues, it’s easy to forget that Confederate statues once blanketed the countryside. They serve as stark reminders of the bad old days. He worries, though, that there is a good argument for removing them after Charlottesville. When a monument serves as a contemporary rallying point, then we need to remove them, I suspect.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Censor white supremacy – The Week Magazine

Sign Up for Our free email newsletters One of the most welcome political developments of my lifetime is the growing suspicion with which attempts to cloak even the most detestable utterances under the mantle of “free speech” is regarded. From the misogynistic obscurantism of #GamerGate (years later I still can’t find anyone who can tell me what the “-gate” was) and the painfully unfunny parody of stand-up comedy performed on college campuses by the expatriate employer of ghostwriters known as Milo Yiannopoulos to the latter-day phrenology of the so-called alt-right and the unabashed Holocaust denial of Stormfront, there are expressions that most of us consider on their face unacceptable and undeserving of a platform. The difference is that now increasingly it looks as if people have concluded that it is our duty to make sure they are denied one. Thank God for SJWs! This was not always the case. There is a long history in this country of making grandiose blanket defenses of freedom of speech that extend to bigots, frauds, pornographers, genocidal enthusiasts, propagators of terrorism and sedition, and kooks emotionally invested in nonsense and villainy of every conceivable variety. People who make arguments defending, say, the rights of pseudo-historians to argue that the Nazis did not murder millions of European Jews or the ancient liberty of perverts to create simulations of child pornography call themselves “free speech absolutists.” Their position has never been tenable, but it has long enjoyed a mainstream currency in the United States, in classrooms, and in the pages of newspapers and magazines and even on the bench of the Supreme Court. This is because freedom of speech in the way that is usually discussed in this country is a cartoonish fantasy. There has never been a community in which certain ideas have not been considered open for discussion or debate. As Stanley Fish argued in his famous essay “There is no such thing as free speech, and it’s a good thing, too,” the liberal concept of freedom of speech is not some kind of immutable principle woven into the fabric of reality; it is an idea and a very new, albeit frequently misunderstood one. As Fish points out, the ur-text for what we think of as freedom of expression, quoted on a monument familiar to those who visited the Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library, is John Milton’s 1642 treatise Aeropagitica. There the Puritan poet and pamphleteer makes many arguments that will sound familiar to Americans in the 21st century: Allowing the largest possible number of viewpoints to be expressed publicly means that we have access to more good ideas; the task of sifting through a wide range of opinions sharpens our intellects and forces us to refine our own arguments; moreover, actively proscribing certain expressions may lend them a certain kind of romantic credibility, whereas simply ignoring them will result in their being mostly ignored. What almost no one acknowledges, except in the act of attempting to explain it away, is the following qualification, which was absolutely crucial for Milton: I mean not tolerated Popery, and open superstition, which as it extirpats all religions and civill supremacies, so it self should be extirpat, provided first that all charitable and compassionat means be us’d to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or maners no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw it self. [Aeropagitica] In other words, Milton argues, all free speech is acceptable except any speech that promotes the teachings of the Catholic Church or paganism or atheism. Brushing this off as mere prejudice or oversight would be a gross anachronism. Milton makes this qualification precisely because Catholicism and atheism are incompatible with the kind of society for which he is arguing. Giving Catholics or atheists a hearing would be an act of violence tearing away at the foundations of the Christian commonwealth he hoped to establish. Very few Americans today are interested in setting up a community based on 17th-century Protestant notions of biblical morality. But Milton’s pamphlet remains relevant. All societies have certain organizing principles. Freedom of speech is not a first-order good; it exists only to facilitate the flourishing of the society along the lines established by those principles. In America today one of those principles is that discrimination based on race is immoral; people who disagree with this have only one goal creating a society in which it is not one of those principles. If we do not want to allow this to happen, we should not permit anyone to argue in favor of it. To pretend otherwise and posture on behalf of the abstract rights of racist crank is not, as “absolutists” pretend, to defend speech but to demean it, to diminish it to the level of undifferentiated random noise. This is because every act of expression takes place against the invisible backdrop of all the expressions not taking place; an argument in the pages of The Washington Post about a murder assumes that murder is a crime, and it would not occur to the reporter that, when seeking comment from the police department and the suspect’s attorney, he should also solicit the opinions of a hypothetical man in Arkansas who thinks that murder should not be a crime. To fail to see how any given act of speech only makes sense in the absence of other possible but absolutely inadmissible expressions is childish. Assuming that a new scholarly biography of Hitler and Holocaust-denying memes traded by basement dwellers on the internet are both “speech,” expressions of potentially equal value whose worth is ultimate determined by what readers decide to make of them, is not an exercise in tolerance; it is nihilism. Which brings us to the recent decisions by Go Daddy and Google to deny the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, a home on their web hosting platforms. I have yet to see anyone find fault with this decision even though realistically speaking it amounts to censorship. This is in itself a good thing, though few people have acknowledged it as such. At present it is easy to ignore the elephant in the room by saying that these are private companies free to make their own decisions about what viewpoints can be expressed on web servers that they own and control. But there are only so many web hosting services. Suppose no one was willing to offer these Hitler fanboys room to air their grievances with African-Americans and Jews on the internet suppose that they could find no publisher willing to reproduce their pamphlets and no one willing to sell them a Xerox machine and paper to distribute them on their own? Would it still be okay? Why is it reasonable to pretend that an action that is licit and even commendable when taken by a corporation that will soon be worth $1 trillion would be unjust if an ill-defined entity called “the state” undertook it? The world in which the government enjoys a monopoly on coercion and corporations are not state entities whose actions would not be possible without a vast infrastructure and legal apparatus in which they operate is a fantasy. The procedural question of who is responsible for the censorship is beside the point. The only relevant one is whether it is laudable. I for one am happy that the Daily Stormer is gone. People who agree with me need to ask themselves why they would have found it upsetting if the Department of Justice had shut it down.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Death of a Holocaust denier: With Zundel’s passing, what can we take away? – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, counsels the book of Proverbs. That may have been a hard sell when news of Ernst Zundels death in Germany reached Canada earlier this month. Zundel, whos been described as the worlds foremost purveyor of Holocaust denial literature, wrote titles such as, The Hitler We Loved and Why, and distributed hate literature, including Richard Harwoods 1974 booklet, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth At Last. Zundel delighted in his notoriety and needled the Jewish community with glee. From his infamous bunker in Torontos Cabbagetown neighbourhood, he continued to publish viciously anti-Semitic tracts and courted publicity relentlessly, even running for the federal Liberal leadership in 1968. In the days before the Internet, media exposure was his oxygen. In time, serious debate arose in Jewish circles over whether legal action should be taken. Hardly anyone said Zundel shouldnt be punished. The issue was whether going public would provide him with the platform he craved and embolden his fellow neo-Nazis, and whether, in the long run, it would hurt the community. Was it better to let him and his dark ideas shrivel in the light of truth, or to try to bring the full extent of the law down upon him? Numerous prominent voices, including civil libertarian Alan Borovoy and high-profile criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan, spoke out against prosecution. In the end, Zundel faced two trials that resulted in convictions and an ultimate acquittal when the Supreme Court of Canada narrowly struck down the false news section of the Criminal Code, under which he was charged. It was his native Germany that finally jailed him for inciting racial hatred. READ: WHITE SUPREMACY SEXUALIZED: THE YOUNG, FEMALE FACES OF HATE But those who recall the Toronto trials, in 1985 and 1988, will also remember the blaring newspaper headlines of swimming pools at Auschwitz and no evidence of gas chambers. That hurt many in the Jewish community and seemed to vindicate those who had warned against using open courts. With Zundels demise comes questions that have had the benefit of 30 years consideration: Was it, in the end, a good idea to prosecute him? Did his hatred help raise awareness of the Holocaust for the better? And just what is his legacy? Zundels lifework of denying the Holocaust was an abject failure, stated Sidney Zoltak, co-president of Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. Prosecuting Zundel under the false news prohibition, rather than hate laws, may have been unwise Today, Holocaust education is firmly entrenched in school curricula around the world and Holocaust remembrance is ingrained in Western culture, Zoltak told The CJN in an email. The memory of the Holocaust will long outlast Zundels legacy of anti-Semitism, hatred and evil. In Zundels heyday, Prof. Michael Marrus, a historian at the University of Toronto, was one of the people who advised against prosecution. The legal route left a bad taste among civil libertarians and others who feared it handed Zundel and his acolytes the publicity they craved, Marrus recalled. Arguably, the better path was to instil consciousness of the Holocaust through the weapons of history and memory: survivors testimony, research, writing and education, he added. As he did in the 1980s, Marrus argued that putting hatemongers in jail, or banning them from speaking, are among the least successful strategies for dealing with them. Even so, knowledge of the Holocaust is now powerfully anchored in the collective consciousness, Marrus said. Zundels name, he conceded, is on the road to a justified oblivion. Prosecuting Zundel under the false news prohibition, rather than hate laws, may have been unwise, said McGill University sociologist Morton Weinfeld. On the other hand, there is evidence that media coverage of Zundel and, contemporaneously, of the trial of Holocaust-denying Alberta schoolteacher James Keegstra, did not increase anti-Semitism, and in fact helped raise awareness of the threat of Holocaust denial in the Canadian Jewish and general public, Weinfeld said. READ: ZUNDELS GONE, BUT WE MUST NEVER STOP FIGHTING PURVEYORS OF HATE Zundel changed Canadian law, but was it for the better? Section 181 of the Criminal Code, under which he was charged, stated that anyone who wilfully publishes a statement, tale or news that he knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the section infringed on freedom of expression as outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court could not have foreseen that 25 years later, false news would morph into fake news. The courts ruling pretty well cemented in place the concept that its hard under the Criminal Code to get a conviction on the falseness of words written or spoken. Its not impossible, but its hard, said lawyer Mark Freiman, a former deputy attorney-general of Ontario and the last president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Zundels actions led people to re-discover the Canadian Human Rights Act On the other hand, Zundel awakened people to the need to do something about language, the kind of activity he was engaged in and the demonstrable harm this kind of propaganda can have, Freiman said. In 2013, there were two legal milestones related to issues seen in Zundels case. The Supreme Court ruled that hate speech provisions in Canadian human rights legislation is a constitutionally valid limit on freedom of expression. The court upheld the controversial legal concept of speech that is likely to expose certain groups to hatred. That summer, free speech advocates claimed victory when a private members bill calling for the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act the so-called hate speech provision passed and became law. Its passage meant that Canadians could no longer bring complaints to the federal Human Rights Commission over the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet. It was under Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act that Zundel was taken to the Canadian Human Rights Commission over his website, but he fled to the United States before the commission could wrap up its work. Zundels actions led people to re-discover the Canadian Human Rights Act, Freiman said. He narrowed whats available under criminal law, but expanded whats available under other administrative areas but only if governments enact them, he noted. What would happen if Zundel were charged under todays hate laws? It would be very difficult to get a conviction under hate speech laws, said Freiman. I dont think that much has changed. For Torontos Max Eisen, an Auschwitz survivor who has accompanied March of the Living groups back to the death camp more than 20 times, Zundels legacy is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Zundel got Eisen and other survivors out on the speaking circuit. He was a wake-up call for me, Eisen said. I got involved and started to talk in the early 1990s. But today, we have many Zundels around, and how we get used to these things, it just frightens me, he lamented. Im shocked every day when the lies become truth. We need to stand up and speak out. In the end, Zundels legacy may not amount to much. I dont think Zundel left a legacy, unless it was just for the skinheads and people who believed the Holocaust never happened. But for the public in general, I think hes a nobody, said well-known Toronto Holocaust survivor and educator Gerda Frieberg. That sentiment seemed to be echoed by Prof. Marrus, who said he suspects the first question his students will ask is: Ernst who?

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed


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