Monday, December 18, 2006

Holocaust Denial: Typical Conspiracist Quackery

As I write, there is a huge conference of holocaust-deniers in full swing in (not too surprisingly) Iran. David Duke, formerly of the KKK, is "representing" the United States. I wouldn't normally think a gaggle of Jew-baiting "researchers" and admirers of Hitler is worthy of comment, but I want to take this opportunity to quote from an excellent statement about the conference made my Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (and, by the way, a holocaust survivor):
Holocaust denial is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that posits that Jews, for their own selfish purposes, created a monstrous tale of their own destruction and deliberately inflicted the hoax on the entire world, It presumes that Jews control the international media and all other forms of information, for how else could such a 'fantasy' flourish the way it has.
This is worth bearing in mind: Holocaust denial is not only a conspiracy theory, it has to a remarkable degree a quality that I have identified, in earlier posts, as definitive of conspiracism: the attribution of miraculous powers to the alleged conspirators. Those who think that conspiracism is freedom-friendly (because it is often anti-government) should think again. With the possible exception of the Communists, the Nazis were the champion conspiracists of all time. As I've argued earlier, this is no coincidence. These guys were only anti-government when they were not in charge of the government.

Mr. Foxman's point here is to explain, as briefly as possible, why Holocaust denial is not just another "theory," but actually a form of anti-semitism. I maintain a thesis that is a generalization of this: that conspiracist writing is always (or virtually always) a form of hate literature, because it ascribes horrific, hate-worthy Powers to the Evil Other.

One reason we don't usually think of Holocaust-denial as a conspiracy theory: the Holocaust was itself a conspiracy. It was a real conspiracy, and like any large-scale real conspiracy, it was impossible to keep secret. It was known about in the West while it was going on. The first reports of it reach the World Jewish Congress in Switzerland in mid-1942, weeks after it began. American Jews held public rallies about it. They begged FDR to allow more Jewish refugees into the US so that they could escape the genocide. Chaim Weizmann asked Roosevelt to bomb the rail routes to the death mills. Can a conspiracy theory take the form of denying a(nother) conspiracy? Sure. In fact, 9/11 conspiracism does exactly that: it denies a conspiracy of 19 religious nutcases to destroy various American landmarks. Being a real conspiracy, unlike the fabulous ones hatched by conspiracists, it came unraveled even while it was being executed (the fourth plane crashed in the Pennsylvania courtryside). Evil, real evil, does not have any special Powers.

[To see my earlier posts on conspiracism, look here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

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