What exactly is "holocaust denial"? Why do so many seemingly well-informed people doubt the canonical narrative of the Nazi holocaust? Or perhaps we should ask: Why do so many people who know little or nothing about the historical questions involved express such fervent belief in that canonical narrative? And why has such faith become legally mandated—to the point that in most of Europe one can actually be imprisoned for professing one's good-faith interpretations of a historical event?
In his new essay "American Pravda: Holocaust Denial," Ron Unz traces the bizarre history of "the Holocaust." The picture Unz paints is certainly not the usual one: The alleged Nazi murder of six million Jews and several million non-Jews, mostly in gas chambers, plotted as an official effort to murder all Jews within reach of the Third Reich, is unquestionable and even sacred...today, anyway. But during World War II and for about 15 to 20 years thereafter, it seems that relatively few people actually believed it. As late as 1976, nobody blinked when the highly respected Reason magazine published a revisionism issue featuring key authors and historians who would soon figure as the core of the Institute for Historical Review. But gradually, primarily through Hollywood films, popular novels, and the questionable scholarship of people like Raul Hilberg (and excruciatingly bad pseudo-scholarship of people like Deborah Lipstadt) the narrative snowballed. Then after a highly-publicized series of incidents in which skeptical authors and scholars were witch hunted and scapegoated, their careers destroyed and their property and persons subjected to violent attacks, the narrative became sacred and unquestionable. In other words, belief in "the Holocaust" has been established through a mixture of propaganda and terrorism.
Is Unz right? Raising good questions? Or getting things wrong? Read, listen, and consider.
Note: I am extending invitations to potential radio guests who may wish to join me to argue against Unz's position. So stay tuned for further debate!