The Mars Review of Books - Volume 1, Issue 3

Endnotes to Issue 3

Mar 16, 2023 • ~bidbel

Norman Finkelstein
"Who’s Afraid of Holocaust Denial?"

  1. The A.A.U.P.’s stated mission is to
  2. Compare John Stuart Mill: “the end of education is not to teach, but to fit the mind for learning from its own consciousness and observation.” (“On Genius” (1832); emphasis in original)
  3. Akeel Bilgrami, “Truth, Balance, and Freedom,” in Akeel Bilgrami and Jonathan Cole (eds.), Who’s Afraid of Academic Freedom? (New York: 2015), pp. 16, 23.
  4. I am not qualified to comment on mathematical truths, which apparently differ in nature. Mill, for example, asserts that
  5. A concrete analysis would have to differentiate between introductory and upper-level courses; between departments that do and don’t offer multiple courses on a given topic taught from ideologically opposed perspectives; and so on.
  6. Stanley Fish, Save the World on Your Own Time (Oxford: 2008), pp. 116-24.
  7. Bertrand Russell, “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” (1922).
  8. Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian, and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, edited, with an appendix on the “Bertrand Russell Case,” by Paul Edwards (New York: 1957), p. 184.
  9. One obvious objection, to which there is no obvious answer, is that, on many, perhaps most, topics of academic inquiry, there are more than two combatants (points of view). The question then becomes: How many roles must the professor play in the name of impartiality?
  10. Yosef Gorny, Zionism and the Palestinians, 1882-1948 (Oxford: 1987), pp. 166-69, 268.
  11. Matthew W. Finkin and Robert C. Post, For the Common Good: Principles of American academic freedom (New Haven: 2009), p. 100.
  12. The dual functions of teaching in higher education are said to be:
  13. If invited to deliver a public lecture on a college campus, contrariwise, I see my principal task as to persuade by offering the results of my own process of weighing and balancing. That, after all, is why I was invited: to present my viewpoint; others are invited to present theirs. This distinction between my duties in a classroom versus as a guest lecturer might be analogized to the news pages versus the editorial pages of a newspaper.
  14. Scott, “Knowledge, Power, and Academic Freedom,” in Bilgrami and Cole, p. 78. Other respected contributors to the Bilgrami and Cole volume are equally dismissive of the notion of balance; see the essays by Cole, p. 53 (“we should remember that the proper goal of higher education is enlightenment—not some abstract ideal of ‘balance’”), and Moody-Adams, p. 111 (“it is impossible to teach . . . unless one advocates something”—emphasis in original). Isn’t encouraging students to use their own mind to think through a controverted question on their own advocating something?
  15. Neither of Scott’s argumentative premises withstands scrutiny. What makes for a “compelling and inspiring” teacher is not her having “taken positions,” but her love of the subject matter she’s teaching and her desire to convey the thrill of these ideas to her students. Further, is it correct that, as one’s deepest “political or ethical” convictions maturate, “balancing all sides” plays no part? Coming as it does from a respected left academic, this is a most odd assertion. It’s certain that V. I. Lenin was deeply committed to Marxism. But, according to Isaac Deutscher, he “weighed the pros and cons before he committed himself” to Marxism, or, as Leon Trotsky put it, if Lenin embraced the Marxist creed, it was only “after weighing and thinking through each term from every angle.” One of the hallmarks of the left tradition used to be that it prized rational conviction. (Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed (New York: 1965), p. 26; Leon Trotsky, The Young Lenin (New York: 1972), p. 211)
  16. Fully a quarter were just lined up and shot dead in killing fields.
  17. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, third edition (New Haven: 2003), vol. 3, pp. 1294-96.
  19. “Netanyahu: Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews,” Haaretz (21 October 2015).
  20. The other two scenarios are: A professor in our biology department wants to devote one class of her course in Genetics to the proposition that people of color are intellectually inferior to white people; A professor in our anthropology department wants to devote one class of his course in Comparative Culture to the proposition that in some cultures women enjoy being beaten and raped. While teaching in Turkey, I replaced the Holocaust denier scenario with: A teacher in the religion department wants to devote one class of his course on Comparative Religion to the proposition that Islam is a terrorist religion.
  21. On Liberty
  22. Ibid. I would make the simple analogy with a customer telling a Baskin-Robbins employee that vanilla is his favorite flavor:
  23. I would playfully query the student proclaiming certainty: “Are you God?”
  24. On Liberty
  25. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens, Bowers v. Hardwick (1986).
  26. Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering, second edition (New York: 2003), pp. 41-55.
  27. On Liberty
  28. Finkelstein, Holocaust Industry, pp. 55-78. A fuller explanation would take account of the ideological utility that gives this nonsense currency (see footnote 26.).
  29. Ibid., pp. 158-61, 236-39.
  30. On Liberty
  31. Ibid. I would liken Mill’s point in class to the aesthetic incompleteness of a mosaic when one tile is missing, a jigsaw puzzle when one piece is missing, or a crossword puzzle when one letter is missing. Just as mathematicians speak of an “elegant” proof, so truth has its own aesthetic that is its flawlessness.
  32. Christopher Hitchens, “Hitler’s Ghost,” Vanity Fair (June 1996). It was Holocaust deniers, according to Hilberg, who demonstrated that Zyklon-B in its pure form was not sufficiently lethal to have been used in the gas chambers. Of the suppression of speech opposing U.S. entry in World War I, eminent jurist Zechariah Chafee observed:
  33. “The silencing of an opponent,” a modern-day disciple of Mill noted, “sounds alarmingly like an admission that we cannot answer him.” (Conrad Russell, Academic Freedom (New York: 1993), p. 44)
  34. “Is There a New Anti-Semitism? A conversation with Raul Hilberg,” Logos (Winter-Spring 2007; ). I vividly recall my own frustration upon reading Holocaust-denier Arthur Butz’ The Hoax of the 20th Century. He correctly observed, for example, that it was originally alleged that three million Jews were killed at Auschwitz and that six million Jews altogether were killed. But the figure for the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz was subsequently scaled down to one million, yet the total figure was still put at six million. How can this be?, Butz rhetorically asked. I had no answer.