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Erick A. Bovik

JFK Conspiracy Deniers vs Holocaust Deniers

2 posts in this topic

In a separate thread, some forum members compared Holocaust deniers to those who deny a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. See:

FROM FRED LEUCHTER to VINCENT BUGLIOSI, "Science" and the Denial of Truth

Rather than respond on that thread, I felt that comparison was so erroneous that I should begin a new thread on that subject.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Virginia v. Black, a case involving the question of a First Amendment right, i.e. whether it is “protected speech,” to burn crosses with intent to intimidate. Since 1866 the Ku Klux Clan has used cross burning as a method of intimidating and terrorizing black citizens. During arguments, Justice Clarence Thomas said that cross-burning has no other purpose than to cause fear and terror (meaning that it is not protected speech). It is thought that Justice Thomas’s comment heavily influenced the Court’s final opinion. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the majority opinion which held that a state may, without offending the First Amendment, outlaw cross-burning done with intent to intimidate because burning a cross is a particularly virulent form of intimidation.

The Holocaust--which was the systematic extermination of six million human beings, primarily Jews, but also Gypsies, homosexuals, and other so-called “undesirables”--like cross-burning, has a special meaning in history. The most important element of its meaning is that we must carefully preserve the evidence of what occurred and continue teaching it to future generations, so that it will be remembered, and it never happens again, to any group of people. Even one generation removed, we have too quickly forgotten the lesson of the Holocaust. The Cambodian killing fields, Rwanda, Kosovo and Darfur are reminders that genocide and ethnic cleansing can happen again.

The evidence for the Holocaust is overwhelming. The Nazis kept meticulous records which were preserved, and there were thousands of survivors who gave first-hand accounts of the horrors. The gas chambers, crematoria and silent remains of millions in the concentration camps shout the truth of what occurred.

For these reasons, and especially because we must preserve history for the coming millennia, I believe that Holocaust denial for the purpose of revising history, like cross-burning with intent to intimidate, is not “protected speech.” I do not believe there should be a right of free speech to cast doubt on the Holocaust.

As for comparing Holocaust deniers to those who deny a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, that is a false comparison.

The Holocaust was open and notorious, the Nazi government kept records of it, and some of the perpetrators were tried and convicted in trials which were open to international scrutiny.

The assassination of JFK was carried out by unknown men firing rifles from shadows. The other conspirators kept virtually no records of the plot, and the guilty were never brought to justice.

Comparing Holocaust deniers to conspiracy deniers, elevates JFK’s assassination to the same historical significance as the Holocaust.

I do not mean to diminish the importance of JFK’s assassination. It was a coup d’État which subverted the foundations of our democracy, and led to a decade of war that killed millions of Vietnamese and thousands of Americans. Our freedoms and democracy in the United States survived the 1960's and remain largely intact, the Patriot Act notwithstanding; if it were not so we wouldn’t have the freedom to debate on the Education Forum. We cannot, however, compare the casualties of war, even an unjust war, to the victims of the Holocaust. The truth of the Holocaust must remain unchanged and preserved forever in history so that future generations do not allow its repetition.

Erick A. Bovik

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Mr. Bovik,

I must respectfully register my extreme disagreement with the overwhelming majority of the points of view expressed in your thought-provoking post.

You wrote: "The Holocaust ... has a special meaning in history."

Who determines the definition of "special" in this context? Who decides when to apply it to historical events?

You wrote: "The most important element of [the Holocaust's] meaning is that we must carefully preserve the evidence of what occurred and continue teaching it to future generations, so that it will be remembered, and it never happens again, to any group of people."

Agreed. But how does criminalizing the written and spoken expression of disagreement with our shared acceptance of the historical truth of the Holocaust aid in these efforts -- especially when to do so is to embrace some of the most despicable tactics used by the executioners themselves: criminalization of thought, denial of free expression, and the annexation of history by violent means?

You wrote: "Comparing Holocaust deniers to conspiracy deniers, elevates JFK’s assassination to the same historical significance as the Holocaust."

[An aside: Should we begin to use the upper case "C" when writing of the JFK Conspiracy?]

I do not wish to play the Holocaust envy game. On what basis would you draw the distinction? Are we talking numbers? If so, and if the prime sponsors of the JFK assassination were powerful elites for whom the preservation of the Cold War was the sine qua non for the preservation of their positions, then add every post-11/22/63 Cold War fatality to JFK's column.

As you so powerfully and accurately note, "[JFK's assassination] was a coup d’État which subverted the foundations of our democracy, and led to a decade of war that killed millions of Vietnamese and thousands of Americans." (emphasis added)

Are you seriously arguing that the murder of millions of Asians does not rise to the world historic level of criminality inherent in the earlier murder of millions of "Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other so-called 'undesirables'"?

I stand to object to the Supreme Court's decision in Virginia v. Black. (If you are aware of majority/minority numbers, please advise.) I decry it as a major assault on free speech as strongly as I decry the motives of the cross burners. But I have no choice but to defend to the death their right to burn away -- on private property and with no physical harm resulting.

Finally, you wrote: "ecause we must preserve history for the coming millennia ... I do not believe there should be a right of free speech to cast doubt on the Holocaust."

We must solemnly and forcefully protect the right to cast doubt on the Holocaust in every imaginable media precisely because to do so gives the most powerful voice to the truth and ensures the ongoing victory of freedom over tyranny.

I shall not, sir, allow you to decide what I can say, what I can write, what I can think.

Charles

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