We would be lying if we said that we didn’t think we’d get much of a reaction to our New York Times op-ed page ad of April 23. We knew we would, which is precisely why we ran it. But never did we think that we’d be answered with an op-ed page by one of our critics.
On May 12, Jack P. Eisner, founder of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, ran an ad entitled, “A Warsaw Ghetto Survivor”; it was subtitled, “Responds to ‘Remembering the Holocaust’s 5 Million Others.’” Below this it said, “Catholic League N.Y. Times, April 23, 1999 advertisement.”
The point of the ad was that Jews have an exclusive monopoly on suffering. Here is how it ended: “I hope and pray that we [Jews] will remain unique forever and that no other nation or religion will ever be ‘fortunate’ to join our exclusive club.”
The ad will also be remembered for its bigotry. “It [the Holocaust] was unique because it was perpetrated and organized not by an ignorant tribe in Uganda or Afghanistan, but by a leading Western Christian nation, a direct consequence of more than 1000 years of religious persecution.” Here’s another example: “We [Jews] were not as lucky as today’s Albanians and Croatians whose fathers were notorious Jew-killers.”
We’re not sure who was behind this ad but one thing is for sure: it proves that we succeeded in triggering a discussion. That’s why we call our journal Catalyst—our goal is to change the culture.
We will not be dragged into a tit-for-tat with anyone, but neither will we stop doing what we’re doing. We will continue to challenge the conventional wisdom on the Holocaust and we will take our message directly to the op-ed page of the New York Times: there is simply no better vehicle available—it provides us with the target audience, the educated men and women who shape our culture.
Much of the reaction to our ad was motivated by sheer hate, and it came from both extremes. On one side, we heard from Hans Schmidt, chairman of the German American National Political Affairs Committee. He ended his diatribe to us with this: “Once the ‘six million’ claim; the gas chambers’ story; Hitler’s order to kill all the Jews; his plans to conquer the world, and the alleged misuse of Zyklon-B are exposed as a hoax, no Christian needs to feel guilty.”
On the other extreme, we have Dr. Otward Mueller. After he takes issue with many of the points made in our ad, he closes with this: “No documentation exists proving the ‘5 Million Others.’”
So there we have it: the Holocaust deniers are located in the camps of anti-Semitic Christians and anti-Christian Jews.
No amount of evidence will ever convince these people of the suffering that Jews and Catholics endured in the Holocaust. Or that it was Nazis—not Christians—who killed Jews. Similarly, when we hear from anonymous sources that European Catholics are “barbaric animals,” we are reminded once again that reason has its limits. And this says nothing of the vulgarities that the Catholic League staff has had to put up with in fielding the hate calls.
Turn to the middle section of this issue for a sample of the response. Some of the worst responses are not suitable for print, but you’ll get the point.
At least it can be said that we weren’t ignored. This issue will return–bet on it.