Thursday, January 19, 2012

Follow-up on Mearsheimer et. al.

This is a follow-up to the previous post. Subsequent to writing that post, I did more research on the British anti-semite whose book was lauded by allegedly respectable political scientist John Mearsheimer and who was defended (in the course of defending Mearsheimer) by philosopher Brian Leiter. I am indebted to this post by Pejman Yousefzadeh for links to this additional information. I put this information into the comments on my earlier post, but I think it deserves more attention than that is likely to get there.

One of the questions that arose in the course of Mearsheimer's and Leiter's defense of Mearsheimer's blurb was whether or not Atzmon, the author of the bizarre book that Mearsheimer blurbed, is either a Holocaust denier or Holocaust revisionist. Mearsheimer, in the course of doubling down and refusing to budge, stated unequivocally:

I cannot find evidence in his book or in his other writings that indicate he 'traffics in Holocaust denial.

Notice that this concerns other things Atzmon has written, not just the book Mearsheimer blurbed. Like Leiter, who blandly declared Atzmon (on the basis of extremely brief research) a "cosmopolitan" rather than an anti-semite, Mearsheimer declares him no Holocaust denier at all.

In the very first comment on Mearsheimer's post defending himself (and Atzmon), a reader attempted to provide more data. The reader provided a partial quotation and a link. I am here providing a longer quotation with a different link to the same post. Here is Atzmon on the Holocaust (emphasis added).

It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense. Here is just one little anecdote to elaborate on:

If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein - free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war? I have been concerned with this simple question for more than a while.


I am left puzzled here; if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws.

If this is not "trafficking" in Holocaust denial, I'm not sure what would count. In my earlier post I pointed out that Atzmon plays the post-modernist and says that he "neither affirms nor denies" the Holocaust. That's bad enough. Oddly, the postmodern mask seems to have slipped here. He's talking about "historical sense" and saying in so many words that such Holocaust details as the desire of the Nazis to eradicate the Jews from the Reich and the existence of a death camp at Auschwitz do not make historical sense. Yet I have no evidence that Mearsheimer and Leiter have revised their opinion on the subject or on Mearsheimer's endorsement of Atzmon, despite the fact that this information was made available to Mearsheimer. If readers have evidence that either Mearsheimer or Leiter has done a 180 and repudiated Atzmon, do post that evidence in comments.


Aaron said...

Yep, I agree that's crackpot, anti-Semitic revisionism. So repudiate Atzmon, fine. But again, why repudiate everything he's written in the book? Why lump it all together instead of splitting it into the true and the false, the good and the bad? And if the good is enough to make the book worth reading, why not blurb it?

On lumping versus splitting I'll quote...a philosopher! Here's Hegel, from his feuilleton "Who Thinks Abstractly?":

A murderer is led to the place of execution. For the common populace he is nothing but a murderer. Ladies perhaps remark that he is a strong, handsome, interesting man. The populace finds this remark terrible: What? A murderer handsome? How can one think so wickedly and call a murderer handsome; no doubt, you yourselves are something not much better! This is the corruption of morals that is prevalent in the upper classes, a priest may add, knowing the bottom of things and human hearts.


This is abstract thinking: to see nothing in the murderer except the abstract fact that he is a murderer....

Lydia McGrew said...

Aaron, this is a tad tedious. First, on the previous post and thread, I provided evidence that Atzmon says that he neither "affirms nor denies" the Holocaust. You didn't even see this as significant at the time! Now that I've provided this additional evidence, this is the best you can do?

Second, you expressly said there that anti-semites have a lot of true things to say about the Jews, so you could well imagine positively blurbing a book by an anti-semite about the alleged badness of the Jews. That speaks for itself. I'm not sure any further comment of mine could add anything.

Third, as I said there, I find all this hypothetical stuff tedious. What in the world could be so incredibly stellar and important elsewhere in Atzmon's book that someone should blurb it? Why even talk about these hypotheticals? Actually, please don't answer that.

Fourth, plenty of commentators all over the web have given _additional_ information showing that the book is a piece of garbage. I suppose if you went and read all of that you would still be telling us that maybe they just left out the good parts. This reminds me of a scene in _The Wind in the Willows_ where Toad is trying to sell a horse to a gypsy. He tells the gypsy that the horse is part thoroughbred, then adds, "Not the parts you see, of course."

Fifth, actually, if someone is pushing this kind of vile stuff, no, you shouldn't blurb his book at all unless he finds a cure for cancer and writes about it in a book that has nothing to do with the Jews. Then you can blurb that book. There is such a thing as disassociating oneself from people who traffic in scumminess.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I stumbled across this blog and you seem to be very interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, so I just want to let you know about an event coming up at WMU. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and famous advocate for Palestinian rights, will be speaking at WMU on Jan 31 at 6:00 PM in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.
I realize that we do not see eye to eye on this issue, but I think dialogue is almost always good. Thanks

Lydia McGrew said...

If you've been browsing the blog, you already know what I think of Finkelstein the Odious.

I'm sure I can convince my dentist that I need to have a root canal that evening if that's necessary to get out of listening to that terrorist-lover. But we can stop talking about him now.