In June 1949, LIFE magazine ran a piece about the forced confession of Nazi propagandist Hans Fritzsche at the hands of Soviet interrogators. Written by anti-Nazi author Konrad Heiden, “Why They Confess“ compared Fritzsche’s treatment by his Soviet captors to his treatment by the Western Allies. Whereas the Soviets used a complex system of rewards and punishments in order to turn their prisoners into grateful converts, the West used only brutality. Heiden wrote:
Fritzsche says he could count on the fingers of one hand the Soviet guards who ever overstepped their limits, and on the fingers of one hand the Western guards in the NÃ¼rnberg jail who did not. …
No “Gestapo methods” had been applied (by the Soviets), no hypnotism, no drugs. This is one of the several explanations Fritzsche later gave for his collapse: “Western psychologists don”t see the simple fact that hope is stronger than fear. Therefore hope is more willing to make concessions.”
I was reflecting on Heiden’s piece last week, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, when Taki’s contributor Daniel Acheampong asked me a good question: “From your experience, which would you deem more dangerous: Holocaust revisionism, or slagging off the Prophet?”
Acheampong knows my backstory: From 1989 through 1995, I was public enemy number one to Jewish organizations like the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Branded the “Jewish Holocaust denier,” I was called “powerful and dangerous” by Hebrew University’s Yehuda Bauer, and “the Antichrist” by the always-subtle Phil Donahue.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jerusalem Report in 1993, “I can”t think of any other Jew who has gone so far in aiding and abetting the enemies of the Jewish people.” The editor of the Detroit Jewish News prepared a list of the top threats to the Jewish people, which read: “Hitler, Hussein, Arafat, and Cole.”
For the record, I never denied the Holocaust. My position was that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp, and the buildings displayed there as gas chambers are Soviet fakes. I never denied mass exterminations of Jews at camps like Treblinka and SobibÃ³r.
I was beaten up on three separate occasions, but every time it was by the same group of thugs from an organization called the Jewish Defense League, run by a golem named Irv Rubin. When the beatings didn”t sway me, the JDL put a $25,000 bounty on my head in 1998. I changed my name and spent the next 18 years living as David Stein, making mainstream Holocaust films. I eventually became a conservative blogger whose work was carried by sites like FrontPageMag, the Daily Caller, and Fox News.
So considering my history, the question intrigued me. What’s more dangerous these days”Holocaust revisionism, or public displays of disrespect to Mohammed?
The Jew in me wants to plaintively wail about my suffering and persecution (because Jews like to whine), and the horny man in me wants to inflate the forces I fought against in my youth (because chicks dig bravery). But the reality is more nuanced.
Irv Rubin and the JDL were genuine threats. They were implicated in murders, numerous beatings, and they burned the Institute for Historical Review to the ground in 1984, destroying tens of thousands of books. The JDL was tolerated”just barely”by the mainstream Jewish establishment. But after Rubin and his lieutenant Earl Krugel were sent to prison (where both died), there’s been no heir to the throne. Even when Rubin was alive, there were no real competitors. The violence came from him. Mainstream Jewish organizations operate differently. They”ll slam you in the press, not in the face.
It hurt a lot more when I was attacked in a completely one-sided piece on 60 Minutes in 1994 than it did when I got punched on the nose. My nose healed quickly, but the family rift caused by Mike Wallace creatively editing footage to make it appear as though I said the Holocaust was a “myth” has still not entirely healed.
Having said that, during my revisionist years, I lived in the most Jewish part of Los Angeles. Rabbi Hier of the Wiesenthal Center was a neighbor. The Friday evening walkathon to shul was a weekly Rose Parade of black hats and beards. Yet with every TV show I did, with all the hatred stirred up against me in the press, no one ever did a thing. No hate mail, no graffiti, no pipe bombs, no flaming poo bags. Irv Rubin aside, the hatred had boundaries.
And not just for me (lest you be thinking they were soft on me because I”m a Jew). Bradley Smith. Mark Weber. Willis Carto. Ted O”Keefe. All the major movers and shakers in the revisionist/denier community in the U.S. were spared violence. We were all easy to get to. And we were fine. I just happened to attract the extra special attention of Irv Rubin, so perhaps I had it a bit worse.
The people involved in the various “Mohammed” controversies in countries like Denmark, Sweden, and France live Rushdie-esque existences filled with personal bodyguards and panic rooms. Things like that never even crossed my mind when I was an active revisionist, and they still don”t.
After I was “exposed“ as David Cole in 2013, the “punishment and reward” thing showed itself in full force. Some members of Gary Sinise’s Hollywood conservative “Friends of Abe” group offered “rehabilitation” if I denounced my revisionist views. Back in 1994, my then-friend Dr. Michael Shermer, the weak-willed “skeptic,” was given a similar choice. After appearing with me on the Donahue show, Shermer was publicly vilified by anti-revisionist maven Deborah Lipstadt. But he was also approached by the Wiesenthal Center’s Alex Grobman to write a book together.
Shermer swore he”d reject the offer, in part because it was conditional on calling me a “denier” instead of a revisionist. But he about-faced and took Grobman up on the offer. I got defamed, and Shermer got a major book deal under his belt.
In Europe, revisionists and deniers are routinely imprisoned due to a series of draconian laws pushed through by Jewish groups. This is an affront to the supposed values of Western civilization, and I have spoken out against it tirelessly. Yes, there’s been some violence”denier Robert Faurisson took a very bad beating at the hands of a gang of young Jews in 1989. The fact that this is still the number one instance of violence that revisionists can point to is rather like PBS still citing Firing Line in defense of claims it has a liberal bias.
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