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ZGram: Where Truth is Destiny

May 24, 2001

Good Morning from the Zundelsite:

Part II of this ZGram series of Revisionist censorship persecution starts with what is going on in France - since that is where, true to intellectual tradition, Revisionism first started to sprout.

[START]

France has had perhaps the most colorful history of modern European censorship, perhaps because it has the longest history of Holocaust revisionism. The leftist Paul Rassinier cast doubt on accepted views as early as the 1950s, but it was in 1978 that revisionism came to the attention of a larger European public. In that and the following year Prof. Robert Faurisson of the University of Lyon published two articles in the newspaper Le Monde asserting that there were no execution gas chambers in the Nazi concentration camps. Mr. Faurisson, an expert at textual analysis who made his case from original documents, provoked a storm of opposition.

Nine anti-racist and concentration-camp survivor organizations brought civil and criminal suits against Prof. Faurisson for "falsification of history in the matter of the gas chambers," a curious charge brought under the French anti-racial-discrimination law of 1972. In April 1983, the Paris Court of Appeals found Prof. Faurisson innocent of "falsification of history" but found him guilty of the equally curious crime of "reducing his research to malevolent slogans," and made him pay a small fine. At the same time, the court upheld the right to express any opinion on the existence of Nazi gas chambers (presumably so long as it was not expressed "malevolently"), concluding that "the value of the conclusions defended by Faurisson rests therefore solely with the appraisal of experts, historians, and the public."

This was a setback to the suppressers of free speech, who responded with what is known as the Gayssot law - named for the Communist deputy who promoted it - signed into law in 1990 by President Fran�ois Mitterand. This law made it a crime punishable by up to 250,000 French francs (at that time approximately $50,000) or one year in prison or both to dispute the truth of any of the "crimes against humanity" for which Nazi leaders were charged at the Nuremberg trials. Prof. Faurisson, who had continued to publish views on the Holocaust, was the first to be convicted under this law, and was fined 100,000 francs in April, 1991, a penalty reduced on appeal to 30,000 francs. He has not given up his work and has been repeatedly found guilty of the same crime. At last count, he has also been physically assaulted ten times and on at least one occasion was nearly killed.

Although the Gayssot law was controversial when it was passed, the French are now happy with it. According to a 1998 Sofres poll, 79 percent think it necessary "because one does not have the right to say anything one likes about the extermination of the Jews."

The extent of this sentiment explains why there were other convictions for Holocaust-related comments before passage of the 1990 Gayssot law. In 1987 the leader of the French National Front Jean-Marie Le Pen was fined under anti-racism laws, not for denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers but merely for describing them as a "detail" or "minor point" in the history of the Second World War. Astonishingly enough, not only must a Frenchman affirm a certain historical fact, he must attribute to it a certain prescribed importance.

Another French celebrity-turned-thought criminal is Brigitte Bardot, the former actress. In retirement she has become an ardent animal-rights activist and has often denounced the ritual slaughter of sheep by French Muslims during the festival that marks the end of the Ramadan fast. She has also spoken in more general terms, lamenting that "my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims." Like Prof. Faurisson, she is impenitent and has been fined at least three times-in 1997, 1998 and 2000-under the 1972 anti-racism law. A judge concluded that Miss Bardot was guilty of inciting "discrimination, hatred or racial violence," and that her condemnation of Muslim practices went beyond any possible concern for animal rights. There has been a host of other less-well-known Frenchmen convicted under the censorship laws. In May, 1999, the editor of a small-circulation magazine Akribeia was fined 10,000 francs ($2,000) and given a suspended six-month sentence for writing favorably about Paul Rassinier, the founder of French revisionism. At his arrest, police strip-searched Jean Plantin and confiscated his two computers and a dozen computer disks, destroying the results of several years' research. In September 2000, a 53-year-old French high school teacher in Lemberg in the Moselle region was fined 40,000 Francs ($8,000) and given a one-year suspended sentence for telling his students that the Third Reich gas chambers were used for delousing clothes and that the concentration camps were not extermination centers.

Censorship cases now get little attention in France unless there are unusual circumstances or the defendant is a celebrity. In July 2000, a local National Front politician in the Rh�ne-Alpes region, Georges Theil, was charged with "disputing the existence of crimes against humanity." In what he thought was a private e-mail exchange and using a screen name, he had written, "Homicidal gas chambers never existed for the simple reason that they were simply and profoundly impossible." Mr. Theil had not counted on the diligence of the French police, who tracked him down through his Internet service provider, Wanadoo, and hauled him into court where prosecutors asked for a six-month suspended sentence. Cases of this kind, which show how deeply the French police are willing to burrow into what people think are their private lives, have been completely ignored in the United States.

Two recent censorship trials that did receive international attention were "the Garaudy affair" and the successful attempt to shut down certain activities by the American Internet portal Yahoo. The Garaudy scandal is particularly instructive because it shows how willingly the left will sacrifice its own to the gods of Third Reich orthodoxy. Roger Garaudy was born in 1913, served in the French army, joined the war-time Resistance, and sat in the French National Assembly as a Communist, first as a deputy and later as a senator. For 25 years he was a major theoretician for the Communist Party, but broke with the comrades over the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He continued to teach philosophy and promote anti-racism and socialism. He converted to Islam, and enjoyed great prestige as one of France's most influential public intellectuals.

Over the years he took an increasing interest in the Palestinian cause, and came to believe Jews were exaggerating the horrors of the Holocaust in order to squelch criticism of Israel. This and other views expressed in his 1995 book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel (published in English in 2000 by the California-based Institute for Historical Review) unleashed not only a flood of criticism but likewise brought the octogenarian into court for violation of the Gayssot law. Prof. Garaudy's impeccable credentials as a leftist and anti-racist were no defense. In February, 1998, he was duly fined the equivalent of $40,000 after a trial that caused a sensation in France and throughout the Islamic world. Probably no event has prompted more interest in Holocaust revisionism among Arabs than the trial of this French Muslim who defended Palestinians. Religious and political leaders from Egypt to Iran denounced France for putting him on trial, and the wife of the president of the United Arab Emirates contributed $50,000 to his defense. Egyptian Nobel laureate in literature Naguib Mahfouz wondered about the health of Western societies in which it is commonplace to deny God but a crime to doubt the Holocaust.

[END]

Tomorrow: Part III


This 9-part ZGram is brought to you, courtesy of American Renaissance, a print magazine that maintains a website at http://www.amren.com/


Thought for the Day:

"I am a pessimistic bird, but I still sing."

(Dr. Robert Faurisson at the 13th International Revisionist Conference, May 2000)


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