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Holocaust Denial A Libertarian Legacy

Alex Constantine - August 9, 2014


JULY 30, 2014

Mark Ames pulled a hell of a skeleton out of the Libertarian closet last week – but the real spectacle is the mob of partisans trying to shut it back in.

“I’m waiting for Mark Ames to get his teeth kicked in,” one critic commented on Libertarian flagship publication Reason’s website.

That’s how Libertarians are responding to an explosive article published Thursday by Ames on Pando.com which uncovered a 1974 issue of Reason filled with notorious Holocaust deniers doing what they do best: denying the Holocaust.

That revelation is damning evidence of what historian Andrew Seal describes  as the “intertwined history of libertarian WWII revisionism and Holocaust denial”. And that history, Libertarians are demonstrating, is still with them today.

Damning Evidence

One can take whatever one likes from Ames’ article, but the substantive allegation is undeniable: Reason, in 1974, published multiple instances of Holocaust denial by notorious Holocaust deniers.

For instance, one passage refers to “the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler” and concludes that the first English language book to deny the Holocaust, David Hoggan’s The Myth of Six Million, “presented a solid case against the Establishment’s favorite horror story – the supposed moral justification of our entry into the War.”

The issue also featured the third of three consecutive articles by Holocaust denier James J. Martin – following up on his claim in the second issue that, “I don’t believe that the evidence of a planned extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe is holding up.”

There’s more where that came from – Mark Ames recounts it at length, and Pando includes a copy of the entire issue in its coverage.

Arguments of Convenience

To the extent that Libertarians are willing to acknowledge the problem at all, they have predictably relegated it to the past.

Editor Elizabeth Brown, for example, tweeted Saturday , “I think Reason ran some stupid shit in its day, as have many longstanding political pubs. Not a reflection of us now.”

Editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie : “Much of the material from the issue doesn’t hold up, which is hardly surprising for a magazine issue published almost 40 years ago.”

But have Libertarians really moved past their Holocaust problem? Obviously, explicit denial has become untenable in the modern era. But return to the point Ames makes:

“There is a politics to all of this, a politics that’s barely budged … The goal is to discredit the New Deal and FDR, which can’t be done effectively without discrediting FDR’s most popular cause, the victory over fascist Germany and Japan.”

The Libertarian Holocaust problem has always been something even more sinister than simple denial: it’s the disregard of six million lives for the sake of political expedience. Libertarians don’t have Hitler’s agenda in mind, but they aren’t about to let truth-telling about the Holocaust get in the way of their political agenda.

That’s why Gillespie decries the Ames article as “ideological mudslinging” against “libertarianism” though he doesn’t get around to actually disputing it . That’s why guys like William Gillis “joke ” that “Mark Ames’ crusade against libertarians started when a sex worker refused to sleep with him”. That’s why DC Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors dismisses his article  as “leftist smear merchantry”.

What all of these attacks have in common: political angst. Libertarians aren’t worried about the truth of what Mark Ames said – they’re worried about what they truth might do to their agenda.

That kind of cynicism may seem common enough, but it has a dark history. Fantasies about a critic getting his teeth kicked in are just the start.