Trachtenberg: As Jewish community faces challenges, Holocaust-denying professor has no place at NU
original posting site; https://dailynorthwestern.com/2017/04/28/opinion/trachtenberg-as-jewish-community-faces-challenges-holocaust-denying-professor-has-no-place-at-nu/
Ben Trachtenberg, Op-Ed Contributor
April 28, 2017
Monday marked an occasion called Yom HaShoah, a Holocaust Remembrance Day for communities throughout the world to honor the 11 million innocent Jews, Roma, Poles, mentally disabled and LGBTQ people — among others — who died at the hands of the Nazis. Here on Northwestern’s campus, however, student tuition contributes toward the salary of a professor who would rather we forget.
Arthur Butz, a professor of electrical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, is a Holocaust denier. He’s not just a skeptic or someone who made an insensitive Holocaust joke. He is a consistent denier of one of the most destructive, well-documented events of the 20th century.
In 1976, two years after receiving a tenured professorship at Northwestern, and 10 years after joining the University’s faculty, Butz published a book called “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry.” In over 500 pages, Butz attempts to disprove the commonly-accepted knowledge that the Holocaust was meant to exterminate Jews, that Nazi camps were responsible for the deaths of six million Jews and that the gas chambers and crematoria even existed.
In response to this, University administration did nothing at the time. It’s hard to blame them; in 1976, memories of World War II were not so distant and the concept of Holocaust denial — now burgeoning across the internet — was new, often prompting bemusement rather than revulsion as a result. In 1977, then-University Provost Raymond Mack said Butz had “the same right as any person to get published,” lauding the administration as “great First Amendment people.”
Butz’s book was one of the first U.S. works of Holocaust denial and has served as a basis for much of the writing that has followed in that supposed field of study. The administration’s initial response can be excused, but its further inaction is unacceptable.
Butz’s actions have dragged NU’s name through the mud along with his own, as he slings the so-called “Holocaust revisionism.” Until 2006, Butz promoted “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century” on his Northwestern Pubweb page and even congratulated former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his bravery for calling the Holocaust a “myth.” The extent of Northwestern’s major sanctions against Butz have been to offer duplicates of his electrical engineering classes, so students who disagree with Butz’s ideas can avoid his classroom.
That is not enough. In a day and age when White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to use the term “holocaust center” to refer to concentration camps and claimed Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons, hiding behind defenses of tenure and free speech is unacceptable. It’s not sufficient when a leading French presidential candidate has claimed France has no culpability in the mass roundup of Jews during World War II.
As far as tenure goes, there are restrictions to what professors may do before they are fired. Butz’s actions have gone far above and beyond these limitations; his continued presence on this campus is embarrassing.
The American Association of University Professors identifies moral turpitude, “behavior that would evoke condemnation by the academic community generally,” as grounds for denying professors their pay. AAUP’s Statement on Professional Ethics also establishes ethical misconduct and the “exploitation, harassment or discriminatory treatment of students” as potential grounds for dismissal. Butz’s book is blatantly false and has done so much harm as a leading source of Holocaust denial that his continued status as an NU professor is therefore a form of passive harassment that uses tenure as a front for academically dishonest work.
Butz’s work has played a role in the growth of Holocaust denial, a field rife with fabrication and falsification. Some may say Butz will soon likely retire on his own due to age. That may be true, but allowing a professor who has done such damage to academic integrity, offended so many people and hurt the reputation of NU to leave on his own terms would be a huge embarrassment to this university.
These are exceptional times. Members of the worldwide Jewish community are scared about their future and the future of their allies. In the first three months of 2017, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 86 percent compared to the same period last year. NU must show its commitment to Jewish students and faculty, as well as to those who value academic integrity, and initiate review and dismissal proceedings against Butz.
Ben Trachtenberg is a Medill sophomore. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to email@example.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.
Now, I am posting this because of a GREAT Comment that was on the comment section. I have copied the whole comment and am also providing a screen image of it because I am sure it will be removed.
This personal attack on a man, an academic, with sound moral and intellectual integrity indicates to me how low some individuals will stoop to begin the process of ritual defamation.
What Mr Trachtenberg is doing here is akin to what individuals suffered during the Middle Ages’ witch trials where critical dissenting individuals of a prevailing orthodoxy were defamed in their local community, their place of work, and within their larger society.
A trial would be held where individuals would speak out against such an accused. For example, a witness would swear he saw the accused with a broom stick, a second witness would swear he saw the accused consorting with the Devil, then a third would swear the accused had sex with the Devil. Then to top it off, a final witness would swear that the Devil’s semen is ice-cold.
Notice that such an absurd ascending exaggeration has often been followed by so-called Holocaust witnesses when it comes to recounting the cruelty the Germans allegedly perpetrated in the various concentration camps.
Actual physical proof is not offered but just verbiage that supports a certain narrative of events. Arthur Butz points out that two narratives exist concerning the Jewish Holocaust-Shoah narrative: one that depicts the concentration camps in their true nature – places of constraints as were operated not only by the Axis powers but also by the Allies themselves – and that a long time before World War Two, or even before World War One began, i.e. during the Boer War; the other narrative depicts unimaginable horror, which is also found in the writings of Talmud and Tanakah, among others.
Professor Butz has been advocating in-depth research in this field since his book was published in 1976 – and what have we experienced? Censorship to the extreme, which has its genesis in the recent past during the IMT war crimes trials of 1946-7 where accused war criminals were not permitted to produce physical/factual evidence that would exonerate them of fabricated accusations.
I think Mr Trachtenberg is fully aware of this fact and must know that to this day legal constraints are ruthlessly enforced on those who refuse to go along with the official Holocaust narrative, as just recently expounded by the US President Donald Trump – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6vqP3vDKdU
What I would like Mr Trachtenberg to do is to become civilized in his language and embrace ideals such as truth, honour, justice and beauty, and then to realize that since 1985 during the Zundel Toronto “false news” trial, there has not been an open investigation into any of the grotesque allegations levelled against the Germans about homicidal gas chambers and specifics of the ever changing Holocaust narratives and contradictions.
It does not help to write an article that essentially character assassinates Professor Arthur Butz. Shame on you, Mr Trachtenberg, shame on you!
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