I Am a Revisionist Historian

News Abroad

Lynd is a former history professor, retired attorney, lifelong activist and author of numerous books, including Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising. Mirra teaches American Studies at SUNY College at Old Westbury and is the editor of Enduring Freedom or Enduring War? Prospects and Costs of the New American 21st Century. Both authors are on the Steering Committee of Historians against the War. Institutional affiliation is for identification only. The following article was prepared in connection with a conference sponsored by Historians Against the War in February at the University of Texas, Austin.

One hundred years ago, three officers of the Western Federation of Miners were indicted for murder. President Theodore Roosevelt declared that they were “undesirable citizens.” Working people and radicals all over the country responded with insignia stating, “I am an undesirable citizen.”

According to popular legend, during World War II the Nazis occupied Denmark and ordered all Jews to wear the Star of David. King Christian thereupon appeared in public wearing the six-pointed symbol.

Something similar is now required of historians in the United States. In June 2003, President Bush told a group of business leaders that “This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq,” but “now there are some who would like to rewrite history—revisionist historians is what I like to call them.”1 Following Bush’s Veteran’s Day speech in November 2005, the BBC news featured a story, “Bush slams Iraq War revisionism.” Bush’s sanctimonious posturing compels the responsible historian to declare: I AM A REVISIONIST HISTORIAN.

The president’s critique of revisionism needs to be rejected both as a specific comment on the origins of the Iraq War, and as a general proposition.I

In the Veterans Day speech, Bush declared that, “Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.”2 The whitewash panel that Bush is likely referring to is the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. On the one hand, it noted that analysts working on the WMD issue did not experience pressure. On the other, the report noted, “It is hard to deny that the intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom.”3 It is difficult to explain this discrepancy; perhaps the commission was, well, under pressure. Elsewhere, former Chief United Nations weapons inspector, Hans Blix, bemoaned that “the [Bush] administration leaned on us.”4

Bush believes that “it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how [the Iraq] war began.”5 Of course, it is the Bush administration that is trying to rewrite the history of how the war began. Responsible observers are now forced to revise Bush’s rewritten version so that it is closer to the facts. Four well-know examples should suffice to show that the Bush administration deceived the U.S. public, and that “Revisionists” are those who simply want to keep the record accurate for future historians of the Iraq War:

1. Bush (in a March 2003 speech on the eve of invasion): There is “no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”6

Revisionist correction: The International Atomic Energy (IAEA) Update for the Security Council Pursuant to Iraq Resolution 1441 stated that: “In the first eight weeks of the IAEA inspections, the IAEA has visited all sites identified by it or States as significant. No evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities at those locations has been detected.”7

In early March 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, reported that “there was no evidence Iraq had a nuclear development program,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.8

In February 2001, Colin Powell acknowledged that Iraq “has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.”9

Demonstrators and “revisionists” across the globe also challenged this now fully discredited claim. Recall that the administration’s own inspection team confirmed that Iraq did not possess WMD.

2. Bush (State of the Union 2003): “ Iraq recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”10

Revisionist correction: UN inspectors almost immediately disputed the allegation. One letter used to prove the purchase was signed by someone who last served in the Nigerian government in 1989.11 One would hope that the Bush administration was capable of detecting such obvious errors. Bush shifted blame to George Tenet, then head of the CIA, who allegedly allowed the statement to enter the State of the Union Address. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the CIA sent a memo to Condoleezza Rice that “challenged the African uranium sale” before the speech. Rice accepted responsibility for the “error,” the article notes.12 Rice was not reprimanded; instead she was promoted to Secretary of State in 2005. Of course, Joseph Wilson also disputed the uranium claim and now Cheney’s Chief of Staff is under indictment surrounding the outing of Wilson’s wife who worked in the CIA. 

3.Bush in October 2002: “I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary.”13

Revisionist correction: In July 2002, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain’s M16, reported that, “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”14

4.Dick Cheney: Iraq constitutes “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”15

Revisionist Correction: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, which even Bush and Rumsfeld admitted. Al Qaeda operatives in custody spoke of the conflict between Hussein and the organization.16

This last piece of propaganda is especially disconcerting. A Zogby Poll has found that 85% of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq stated that the U.S. mission is “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks.” Cheney’s propaganda has infiltrated the minds of our long-suffering troops. Despite the administration’s attempts to mislead its own troops, they are not simply vassals of administration propaganda. The same Zogby Poll has found that 72% of U.S. troops in Iraq believe that the U.S. should withdraw from the country within a year. In fact, 29% of these soldiers felt that the U.S. should leave immediately, adopting a position once reserved for the so-called “radical left.”17 Are U.S. troops becoming “revisionists”?

The Iraqi people also feel that the U.S. forces should leave. A poll by the British Ministry of Defence revealed that 82% of Iraqis are “strongly opposed” to the U.S. led occupation and 45 % of Iraqis felt that the attacks on U.S./U.K troops were justified.18 In 2003, a Gallup Poll, once cited by the Bush administration to illustrate that Iraqis welcomed the U.S. forces, showed instead that 94% of Iraqis felt Baghdad was more dangerous since the U.S. “liberation.”19 Even if we allow for a wide margin of error, these polls reveal that U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi people oppose the occupation.

In the buildup to the Iraq War, most of the world’s citizens and governments disputed the administration’s WMD claims. Bush, a so-called champion of democracy, dismissed world opinion. It was the revisionists who said Iraq did not have the WMD in March 2003. Revisionists of the world unite and declare: I am a revisionist historian!


There is a second, more general reason to resist the president’s attack on “revisionism.”

History is revisionist. It is precisely the task of the historian to correct, that is, to revise, the popular misconceptions of the moment. Every responsible historian is perpetually in the position of the little child who sees that the emperor has no clothes, or, to take an example from the life of the mind, of Galileo when he muttered, “E pur se muove” (yet it does move).

The responsibility to revise falls especially on the historian of foreign policy. United States history is replete with controversy over reasons initially offered for going to war. Congressman Abraham Lincoln challenged President Polk as to the “spot” where the armies of Mexico and the United States first fired on each other in the 1840s. The circumstances causing the battleship Maine and the steamship Lusitania to be sunk are still debated. Within living memory, it now seems, the Johnson Administration deliberately falsified the alleged events that occasioned the so-called Tonkin Bay Resolution in August 1964.

And it is not only official explanations of the reasons for going to war that require revision. The underlying assumptions of policy makers are often enough, from an historian’s vantage point, simply false. One of the authors, after a trip to Hanoi in the mid-1960s, had the opportunity to meet Robert Kennedy. If memory serves, Kennedy said that “everybody knows” that Communists can’t win democratic elections. But in fact, former President Eisenhower’s memoirs prove that ten years earlier the United States had sabotaged the Geneva agreements which ended the French war in Indo-China because American policymakers knew that if nationwide democratic elections were held in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would win. The same fallacy – that the “bad guys” are bound to lose in a fair election -- now plagues United States foreign policy in Iran, Palestine, Venezuela, Haiti, and elsewhere.

A debate that has no obvious “politically correct” answer but that desperately requires to be joined concerns the question, How new is the Bush administration policy of “preventive” or “preemptive” war? Writing in The New York Review of Books, Professor Arthur Schlesinger opines that preemption represents a “fatal change in the foreign policy of the United States.” During the long years of the Cold War, Schlesinger assures the reader, “preventative war was unmentionable. Its advocates were regarded as loonies.”20 Yet some of Schlesinger’s colleagues in the administration of John F. Kennedy explicitly advocated attacking Communism in Vietnam while it was still relatively weak: McGeorge Bundy “concluded that a preemptive strike was desirable.”21

On the one hand, commentators point to the brazen way in which policymakers in the Bush administration destroy multinational agreements that have been painful decades in the making, and blithely leap from rationale to rationale in seeking to justify United States aggression. This, it is suggested, is something new under the sun. On the other hand, any one viewing the history of treaties with Native Americans might conclude that both in style and substance, neo-conservatism began with the extermination of the Pequot Indians.

Most fundamentally and grievously of all: Radical historians, anxious to prove the meticulous character of their scholarship, have too often confined the scope of their research to small, “manageable” topics. Creation of the master narrative is defaulted to professors who view the world broadly, but from the parochial perspective of Ivy League departments whose tenured members – think of the Bundys, the Rostows, Professor Wolfowitz – in even years make the policy that in odd years their scholarship grandly justifies.

For example, Tony Judt finds such parochialism and “triumphalism” in the sweeping Cold War history of Yale Professor John Lewis Gaddis.22 Among the topics he finds lacking substantial treatment in Gaddis’ work are: the sources and psychology of Soviet strategy; the degree to which United States diplomats like Harriman, Acheson, Kennan and Bohlen brought to the table a “worldly, cosmopolitan” outlook just as cold and hard as that of their Marxist counterparts; the Third World, including the overthrow of elected governments in Iran, Guatemala and Chile; Polish Solidarity and Hungary in 1956; Soviet intelligence; the fact that McCarthyism did not occur in Western Europe despite spying in those countries at least as serious as that charged to the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss; DeGaulle; Eurocommunism; the international New Left; the prehistory of the Cold War from 1917 to 1945; and its posthistory, including the invasion of Iraq. One might pardonably conclude that this master narrative is not just Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark, but Hamlet without the entire court at Elsinore.

To revise is more than to criticize. Revisionist historians must take risks that will expose them, in turn, to criticism. Revisionist historians have a responsibility to reconstruct the master narrative as well as to polish particular tiles in the mosaic. Since William Appleman Williams, few if any historians on the Left have had the chutzpah to try to tell the whole story of United States foreign policy, or even the whole story of United States foreign policy since World War II. That should be next on our agenda.

1 Bush quoted in “Bush raps ‘revisionist historians’ on Iraq,” CNN.com, posted 16 June 2003.

2  “President Commemorates Veterans Day, Discusses War on Terror.” Tobyhanna Army Depot,
Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, 11 November 2005, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/print/20051111-1.html

3  Scott Shane and Daniel Sanger, “Bush Panel Finds Big Flaws Remain in U.S. Spy Efforts,” New York Times, 1 April 2005, p. A10.

4 “Blix: U.S. Leaned on Us,” Newsday, 12 June 2003, p. A48

5  “President Commemorates Veterans Day, Discusses War on Terror.” Tobyhanna Army Depot,
Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, 11 November 2005, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/print/20051111-1.html

6  “President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation” ( Washington, DC: Office of the Press Secretary), 17 March 2003.

7 IAEA Update Report for the Security Council Pursuant to Resolution 1441 (2002).

8 “No Evidence of Nuclear Weapons Program: ElBaradei,” Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 2003.

9 Secretary Colin L. Powell, “Press Remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa,” U.S. Department of State, 24 February 2001, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/933.htm

10 “ President Delivers State of the Union,” 28 January 2003, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

11  Dana Priest and Karen DeYoung, “CIA Questioned Documents Linking Iraq, Uranium Ore,” Washington Post, 22 March 2003. See also “Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq,” Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate, 7 July 2004. The report finds numerous agencies challenging the documents regarding the Nigerian uranium sale to Iraq. Among the responses were that it was “highly suspect”; “lacks crucial details”; and was “completely implausible.”

12 Jeanne Cummings, ‘Security Advisers Now Share Blame In Intelligence Row,” Wall Street Journal, 23 July 2003, p. A4. Note that the CIA’s initial challenge led to the removal of the uranium claim from an October speech. See Ken Fireman, ‘Warning Unheeded,” Newsday, 23 July 2003.

13  Mark Danner, “The Secret Way to War,” The New York Review of Books, 9 June 2005.

14 Ibid. This quotation is from the infamous Downing Street memo. For more details and responses to Bush supporters, visit http:www.downingstreet.org, which explains that, “The Downing Street Memo is actually meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002. Published by The Sunday Times on May 1, 2005 it was the first hard evidence from within the UK or US governments that exposed the truth behind how the Iraq war began.” 

15  See Stephen Shalom, “Iraq White Paper,” for reference and more details in Enduring Freedom or Enduring War? Prospects and Costs of the New American 21 st Century (Maisonneuve Press, 2005), Carl Mirra, ed., pp. 173-6.

16  Ibid, p. 174.

17  “U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End the War in 2006,” Zogby International, 28 February 2006, http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075. To be sure, withdrawal does not mean abandonment. UN consultant, Johan Galtung, suggests a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East, chaired by Jordan or a party in the region: Ongoing concerns such as the Israel-Palestine crisis, Kurdish independence, and a Middle East common market should be part of this dialogue. A U.S. aid package to rebuild the infrastructure along with a pledge that Iraqi resources belong to the Iraqis are also in order. The presence of U.S. soldiers is not necessary to begin repairing Iraq; a multinational force coupled with significant aid is more desirable than a U.S. occupation that is opposed by the Iraqis themselves. See Johan Galtung, “Human Needs, Humanitarian Intervention, Human Security and the War in Iraq,” (February 2004), posted at http://www.transcend.org

18  Sean Rayment, “Secret MoD poll: Iraqis support attacks on British Troops,” Sunday Telegraph, 23 October 2005.

19 “Iraqis Not So Happy,” Newsday, 29 September 2003, p. A12. Furthermore, the Brooklings Institute identifies a February 2005 poll in which 71% of Iraqis “oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq.” For this poll and several others with similar data, see Abigail Fuller and Neil Wollman, “Should the U.S. Withdraw? Let the Iraqi People Decide,” Professors for Peace, 13 October 2005.

20  Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “Eyeless in Iraq,” The New York Review of Books, 23 October 2003.

21  Ralph Stavins, Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin, Washington Plans an Aggressive War (New York: Random House, 1971), pp. 34, 39, 194, 252.

22  Tony Judt, “A Story Still to be Told,” The New York Review of Books, 23 March 2006.

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Mr. ROdriguez:

OK. There's not much that can be said about your post, other than that it's interesting biographical stuff. I happen to like that kind of stuff. I am not a historian or academic.

Nevertheless, we are left with the issue that you encourage a university in its slander of an academic for what he has written, without having read what he has written. I guess if there is anything I can say here, it would be that we do not have to have an opinion on everything, it isn't really necessary, and we do not have to have an opinion particularly on those matters that we do not know very much about.

The academics at Northwestern should do their work on Butz's work, and then you would have at least a little something on which to base your enthusiam for a great university slandering one of its own to protect a taboo.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Mr. Rodriguez:
I agree with your observations about the lack of revisionist or dissident historians in North Korea and other lands.

But over-simplifiy the issue in America. The rewards and penalties of being a "dissident" (revisionist) historian in America depends considerably on what you want to dissent from, on what you believe there is a need to "revise."

Not one of the rewards you speak of for being a dissident historian applies to Northwestern professor Arthur Butz, author of The Hoax of the 20th Century. To the contrary. He is routinely condemned, slandered, and many of the otherwise "brave" academics at Northwestern work actively to destroy Butz's career, his livelihood, and his "good" name.

It can take considerable bravery to stand up before your peers and argue that they are evading the responsibilities of their own profession, and the ideal of the university itself, be evading a taboo historical question.

When I was a young guy I thought such taboos were the coin of cargo cults, not Western culture. They may still be. But how do cargo cult taboos differ from the taboo against arguing that the Holocaust question should be examined in the routine way that all other historical questions are examined?

There's always an exception, eh?

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Mr. Rodriguez:
Your post here ties in nicely with the taboo against an open examination of the Holocaust cult addressed in another response.

It was Josef Stalin and Harry Truman (the hero of Hiroshima) who were primarily responsible for institutionalizing the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans at Nuremburg.

What did they gain? Exactly as you have it: the "moral high ground." They have never "lost" it, in their own eyes. It was the unique monstrosity of the Germans, based on the "gas-chamber" charge, that morally legitimated U.S. relationships with the rest of the world.

Still does. See the comic/tragic pro-Israel, anti-Arab voting record of the U.S. at the U.N.

It is not an easy thing for your average academic, who is no braver than you average politician, to address such questions publicly.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008


Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Mr. Rodriguez:

What stands out for me in your message here is that you approve of of the "routine" condmenation of those who write dissident books on the Holocaust question.

In the case of Butz and his Hoax, you give no hint that you have read the book. Nothing in the rest of your post suggests that you have any familiarity with revisionist arguments.

This leaves me wondering why you think you should pronounce on this specific matter. I'm willing to listen.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Re Castle Hill Publishers:

Germar Rudolf, the primary figure behind Castle Hills Publishers, has been extradited from the U.S., where he was living legally and married to an American woman, and is now in prison in Germany for having committed "thought crimes."

Not very many people care, because they approve of the "routine" condemnation of those who question the orthodox Holocaust story. Such "heresy" is always backed by the power of the State. There was a time when Mr. Rudolf would have risked prison if he had questioned religious orthdoxy.

The more thins change. . . .

Arnold Shcherban - 3/21/2006

Tell us Mr. Gonzales, what was worse
the sudden "antiwar" trend of American communists (if it has actually happened when, how and why
you relayed to us) and division of Poland by Hitler and Stalin(that Stalin, regardless of how monstrous he's been, decided to go for not out of "sweet life", but out of desperate strategic situation under deadly and imminent threat of German invasion) or the full-scale WWII with the magnitude of destruction, death and human suffering falling on Soviet Russia and other countries that dwarfed respective ones over division of Poland?
Yes, Stalin (as earlier leaders of Britain and France) hugely miscalculated Hitler's agressiveness and determination, and on the way made Soviets committing war crimes in Poland, along with Germans, but thre is overwhelming number of historic precedents to believe that the leaders of this country would not act much differently, just based on moral standards and international laws, being placed in the similar situation.
Is there someone out there who does not know that this country (USA) committed acts of agressions and war crimes on multiple occasions, and in fact doing it as we exchange with these posts?

Arnold Shcherban - 3/21/2006

Those contemporary Holocaust deniers
are actually more revolting than the executioners themselves when they denied participation in the genocide against Jews, since in the latter case
they, at least, were trying to save their hides, while in the former the others just do it out of either zoological anti-semitism, or, at the best, to make Judas' profit through sensational "revelations".
It is particularly characteristic of them to use wide-scale hatred against former communist/left regimes (which cannot defend themselves nowadays) to
shift the blame for every evil happened in this world on them that is very easy to do since those actually did do a lot of evil things, but not only did not do many other ones, but in all objectivity have to share that blame with some major capitalist countries.
This revisionism, however, has lately
been receiving a big stimulus from the
American neo-conservative history revisionism, revitalising the old trend that despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary
are trying nowadays to write strictly one-dimensional history of the Cold War period, eliminating any shread of responsibility of the Western reactioners for some of its worst periods and ascribing themselves
credits for every single success and
to the others - criminal guilt - for every single failure during that era.

Glenn Scott Rodden - 3/16/2006

No, the author does not think that writing the history of US foreign policy is just a "Left issue." He is arguing that it is important to do more than criticize the standard conservative history of US foreign policy. Those on the Left, according to the author, need to produce their own version of history because the last Left historian to make that attempt was W.A. Williams and he was writing 40 years ago.

Douglas M. Charles - 3/15/2006

Wow! Ok, then. Is this 2006?

Frederick Thomas - 3/15/2006

Mr. Schoenberg,

Thank you for your comments but I believe that "the Holocaust," orthodox version, is not something you hold up as something to be proud of or rely upon.

The "evidence" comes from torture of Nazis by Russians and Brits. Thus Hoess, twisted and in pain at the hands of British torturers, is threatened with the death of his entire family, and asked what they wanted. They gave him the numbers. He had the last laugh before his death by confessing to commanding a concentration camp which was imaginary. The tribunal, which was packed with KGB types, did not care.

Then there were the "survivors" provided by the Soviets, all with fresh-looking tatoos, which told stories which all contradicted one another.

Nuremberg was a Kangaroo court, and "deniers" deny the non-evidence which was presented by the Commies who ran that court.

Out of this the Poles recently revised the Auschwitz numbers from 4 million by gas to 1.1 million by typhus, which matches the records.

The fight to keep the old numbers, no matter how stupid, is so that Israel will have something to excuse its ongoing human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Not very honorable.

I am sorry for all the victims of WW II, including any relatives you may have had, particularly those who really suffered and died.

Mike Schoenberg - 3/15/2006

Never said that Jewish suffering was better, but the Hollocaust deniers whether they are the Horowitz's of the world or crazy Iranian leaders are still liers.

Rob Willis - 3/15/2006

Mr. Rodriguez-
Bless your heart. After running through this board for a time, I thought that your philosophy (and mine) were long dead and buried. Your point about outside vs. inside views is well put. The absurd notions of so many entrenched Leftist "historians" have taken on the complexity of the Gordian Knot; it is my hope that you will cut through it and help bring historiography back to its proper arena: fact, causality, and result. The personal politics needs to be weeded out.

Good luck with your career, let me know if I can be of assistance.

Rob Willis

Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/15/2006

Mr. Smith, of course, you are right that I haven't read the book, and I had never heard of Mr. Butz until you mentioned him in your first comment.

But if you'll notice, I am not challenging anything that he has written in his books. I am questioning the reliability of ANY intellectual production coming from a publishing house whose mission statement is not the search for truth, but the advancement of an ideology and political agenda. That, by itself, is reason enough for skepticism; I do the same for the pseudo-intellectual Marxist publishing houses bereft of peer reviewing that pad the curricula vitae of unoriginal and mediocre leftist academics such as Ward Churchill (see AK Press). But beyond that, I also find Castle House publishing insidious because its ideology is based on a weird 19th-century attachment to the defense of "Germanic peoples," a sensibility that did not lead humanity into any good directions over the past 100 years.

I am fully aware that I am exposing my attachment to old, outdated notions of "truth" and "historicism." And yes, I am aware that no system of inquiry can possibly be "objective," and that there is no such thing as "a view from nowhere." Yet, as a 27-year-old PhD student, I feel like I have somewhat of an "outsider's" perspective, in which I can look at the silly, incoherent, and morally tangled mess into which postmodernist intellectuals have lead the practice of history over the past 40 years. And in a spate of youthful rebellion, after being indoctrinated in moral relativism my entire educated life, I firmly reject it, and cast my lot with the serious historians who still maintained their silly and superstitious attachment to such phantoms as "facts" and "truth." Just because truth is fluid and conditional doesn't mean that some things aren't more or less "true" than others.

The growing trendiness of Holocaust "revisionism" is, in my mind, a product of the squishy world-as-text theorizing of the past 40 years in academia, which allows historians to make up their own facts by denying the reality of "factualism" itself.

Nobody should be silenced, but I'm quite alarmed at the number of quasi-Holocaust deniers (or apologists for Holocaust denial such as Dagmar Barnow) who have passed their work off as legitimate scholarship in this forum lately.

Thank you for listening, Mr. Smith. I do not pretend to be an expert in this matter; nevertheless I have pronounced my piece. You don't have to listen if you don't want to.

Scott L. Smith - 3/14/2006

"You people are sick."

I'm not sure if I'm a "you people," but playing along, what makes you think that Jewish suffering is better than anyone else's?


Scott L. Smith - 3/14/2006

"You people are sick."

I'm not sure if I'm a "you people," but playing along, what makes you think that Jewish suffering is better than anyone else's?


Mike Schoenberg - 3/14/2006

I'm a Jew and my mother was in Holland during the war. For centuries the Jews have been presecuted for whatever-killing Christ, being hook-nosed smary guys-you name we have gotten it. Christ was 2,000 years ago. Does anyone think that the Germans will still be hounded in 200 years. You people are sick.

Scott L. Smith - 3/14/2006

No, "these people" do not produce "reliable history" because they provide a viewpoint like everybody else.

What gets historiography into trouble, however, is when the viewpoints cannot freely compete in the marketplace of ideas because of consensus mythology and group pressures, thus preventing history from being "brought into accord with facts."

Historiography is an ongoing process of revision that is never wholly complete. Revisionism is not a dirty word, in spite of the politically correct to say otherwise.

PS: Germar Rudolf is not based out of Hastings. He was deported by the U.S. government in November of last year to go to prison in Germany for writing a book.

The <em>Rudolf Report</em> was written as a project while Rudolf was a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate with the Max Planck Institute, whereupon he had the audacity to subject various infamous buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau to chemical testing.

Rudolf's findings did not support the mass-gassing claims, which powerful interest groups therefore do not like. Rudolf was forced to flee Germany to escape prison for defiling the German (and Austrian) state religion, the Holocaust, as mandated by the victors of the war at Nuremberg.

The truth of Rudolf's assertions is no defense, nor was heresy in the Middle Ages.


Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/14/2006

Geez, Mr. Smith, I'm looking some more on the people behind the publication of Butz's work. It just gets creepier and creepier.

They're actually still upset about the Battle of Hastings (1066AD), because it was the beginning of the end of the Germanic Saxon era in England, and WWII is referred to as "The German/English (Saxon/Anglo-Saxon) self-destruction." A photo of the ruins of the castle at Hastings is their logo, and Germar Rudolf, the founder, is based at Hastings.

Do you think these kinds of people can produce reliable history?

Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/14/2006

And furthermore, just so anyone reading this message board will know, this is the "mission statement" of Castle Hill Publishers, who publish Butz's work. This illustrates my point about Holocaust denial rarely being anything more than polemics or agendas -- and is certainly not "history" as it should be understood.

"It is also Castle Hill Publishers' goal to defend human rights and to combat discrimination, especially when it is directed against the German people....

It is also Castle Hill Publishers' goal to correct unjust reporting or accounts of events of the 20th century. It is also the Foundation's goal to further public debate about the subject generally described as 'Holocaust'.

It is also the Foundation's goal to oppose, with all available legal means, those persons, institutions and organizations who denounce, charge, convict or otherwise inflict harm on Revisionists for not believing in the existence of gas chambers...."

A legitimate publisher of histories would just be interested in the truth. This particular one is interested in redeeming the reputation of "the German people" and those who don't believe in the existence of gas chambers. Not particularly a good recipe for good social science.


Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/14/2006

Mr. Smith,

I agree that there should be no restrictions on free speech, even insane and creepy Holocaust denial of various stripes, from Butz's to Irving's. And I think that European countries that have laws against Holocaust denial are infringing upon free speech, and as such are complete hypocrites when they defend, for example, their right to publish Mohammed cartoons while at the same time jailing "revisionist" historians who question the prevailing wisdom on the Holocaust.

However, my belief in free speech in no way makes me more amenable to the kinds of dangerous agenda-driven polemics-disguised-as-history represented by the Holocaust deniers. They should not be silenced, but they absolutely should be "routinely condemned," as you say. Kudos to Northwestern, I say. Not once have I ever encountered a Holocaust denier that did not arrive at his/her positions without an ulterior motive -- such as condemning the US and Israel, for example, or an attempt to revive the old anti-Semitism.

And let me just say that I take it as a source of pride to be challenged in this forum by an apologist for Holocaust "revisionism" like yourself. Every moral compass, after all, needs a butt end (although I suppose I could do much to learn from and emulate your admirable decorum and politeness). And nothing could better prove my point that there is nothing necessarily "courageous" or good about being a "revisionist." And when that label is self-applied, it is usually self-promotion more than anything else.

Rowan Arthur Berkeley - 3/14/2006

"Since William Appleman Williams, few if any historians on the Left have had the chutzpah to try to tell the whole story of United States foreign policy, or even the whole story of United States foreign policy since World War II. That should be next on our agenda."

-- oh, this is just a "Left issue", is it?

Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/13/2006

"You KNOW they're lying right now about Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions."

How do you know they're lying? And who is doing the lying? Bush? Or the United Nations, the IAEA, Russia, Israel, the European Union, and Iranian exiles and dissidents all over the world?

"prior behavior is the best indicator of future behavior."

I agree: I can predict that a significant portion of the free world will do all it can to close its eyes and apologize for the world's worst tyrannies and human rights abuses if it gives them the opportunity to smugly occupy the moral high ground in any conflict involving the United States. How do I know? Because they've been doing it for about 70 years now, ever since Hitler and Stalin became best friends and divided up Poland -- at which point American Communists suddenly became "antiwar" and formed a "peace movement."

Gonzalo Rodriguez - 3/13/2006

The authors stand strong and proudly and courageously declare: I am a revisionist historian. What bravery! Somebody please give these two an award!

SNNNOORRRREEE...huh? Oh, I'm sorry, did I fall asleep? Please excuse me.

For another example of real courage, try being a "revisionist historian" in North Korea or Iran, arguing that the Holocaust did, in fact, happen, or pointing out that Communist collectivization policies have led to mass starvation wherever they've been implemented over the past 100 years.

What bravery it takes to paint oneself as a "dissident" in the USA! You get speaking engagements, academic awards, and all the residual virtue and praise that "dissidents" receive all over the world, but with none of the imprisonments of Castro's Cuba, hangings of Iran, or gulags of North Korea or the USSR! What a racket! Where can I sign up?

PS: The authors only include 9 of the 16 famous "sixteen words" of Bush's speech. I dislike Bush and hate to defend him, but this kind of dishonesty requires rebuttal. Why not include the other 7 words?: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought..."

Could it be the authors do not include those words because then Bush's statement becomes absolutely factual? And that British intelligence still stands by its findings?

Glenn Scott Rodden - 3/13/2006

"Sir, I mean the obvious. These so-called points have been soundly crushed as pure manipulation of sets of barely-connected facts."

Again, what points are you referring to. The author claims that historians are by nature revisionist. Is that true or not?

"Any 11th-grader can do a net search and utterly disprove the revisions this lemming has put forward."

It appears that we found that lemming.

"This article is not even a particulary clever way to recycle this old stuff."

I did not think that the author was attempting to be "clever." He was arguing with the president who believes that we should not attemp to revise history written by his administration.

R. Willis

John H. Kimbol - 3/13/2006

What is the point of revising history a few years after the fact? You've painstakingly documented a few lies from 2002 and 2003, but where is your effort to expose the lies of 2005-2006 that very soon will result in war at Iran?

To refresh your memories, here's what Ron Suskind said in a 10/17/04 New York Times Magazine article quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' ... 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

If the bad actors of history are acting in real time, then historians need to pick up the pace. One of the fundamental rules of psychology is that prior behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. You KNOW they're lying right now about Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions. In the battle for the truth, Iran is the front line. If you want to make a difference, then please write about Iran.

Rob Willis - 3/13/2006

Sir, I mean the obvious. These so-called points have been soundly crushed as pure manipulation of sets of barely-connected facts.

Any 11th-grader can do a net search and utterly disprove the revisions this lemming has put forward.

This article is not even a particulary clever way to recycle this old stuff.

R. Willis

John R. Maass - 3/13/2006

It is the height of sanctimony, so typical of the academy, for the authors to equate their feelings of somehow being persecuted with that of Jews duringthe Holocaust and miners facing potential jail sentences. This is indicative of the narcisism academics suffer from in epidemic proportions.

Glenn Scott Rodden - 3/13/2006

Mr. Willis:

If you are attempting to make a point, go ahead and make it.

Rob Willis - 3/13/2006

But utterly incorrect. Why are obviously educated folks so sure that we, the unwashed, will never see through blatent misrepresentations of events and contexts? You insult us.

Pesky little questions:

What does WMD stand for and what does the catagory include?

When did Joe Wilson get his Niger job, and from whom? And what was his most recent public statement about the affair?

When was his wife no longer considered covert?

Did Iraq ever aid in Islamic terrorism in any way (extra points for this one).

I could go on, but it would be pointless. Besides, you would simply revise my points to suit your own agenda.