The Harvard Crimson: Innocent Mistake or Anti-Semitic Bias?

harvardcrimsonThe Harvard Crimson is the official student newspaper of Harvard University.  The paper has come under intense criticism as a result of an advertisement it ran questioning the reality of the Holocaust.  The paper claimed that that ad was rejected over the summer and run in error.

The advertisement, submitted by Bradley Smith, founder of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, challenged readers to “provide, with proof, the name of one person killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.”  The ad also raised questions about then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s account of World War II.

In a CNN article, Crimson President Maxwell L. Child stated that three weeks of summer vacation between the submission of the advertisement and the publication of the paper was the reason that the ad “fell through the cracks.”

Was the publication of the ad simple incompetence  injected into a fine tuned editorial review process? Was it something more?

On the most basic level I am willing to accept that the ad “could”  slip through the ‘cracks” of the Crimson editorial/ad review process.  If the SEC  can be incompetent enough to miss Bernie Madoff,  it is not a far stretch believing that the staff of the Harvard Crimson can achieve that same level  and miss the Holocaust Denial Ad.alan-dershowitz-1

I approached Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz for his input. He stated:

“If a newspaper eschews all substantive standards and publishes all adds,regardless of their content(the”taxicab”approach) then I would have no quarrel. But if it rejects some ads because they are patently false,offensive etc and did not exercise its freedom to reject this one,it has some explain to do. I think The Crimson is in the latter category unless it had dramatically changed its long time policies.”

When I asked if he accepted the University’s explanation that the ad simply “fell through the cracks” he stated:

Probably but this issue has recurred on many campuses”

I won’t tried to read the mind of Professor Dershowitz but I will read between the lines. That does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the Maxwell Child’s “oops statement”

Without a smoking gun, we will probably never know whether this was real or feigned incompetence on the part of The Crimson.  We do know however that in end there had to be a real person that put real eyes on that ad and made a conscious decision to let it run. Who is that person?  What is his/her explanation?  Where did the buck stop right before that ad went to print?  We may never know.

For guidance we can look to the tried and true axiom.  It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  Did someone at the Harvard Crimson go through that exact thought process?

Again, we may never know…

Copyright 2009.

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6 Responses

  1. We went through this whole thing on the facebook posts, but this is just a rank attempt to be a bullying censor of college students on your part now. “Be afraid to ask the question” What kind of attitude is that? The kid even had your number in the ad. Instead of berating the Harvard Crimson for printing an ad and throwing around accusations of anti-semitism, maybe you should email why his question is in your view immoral.

    Ignorant questions aren’t going to go away because you accuse the Harvard Crimson editors of hating on Jewish people. I can guarantee that. Some ignorant questions might go away if you email Brad. I kind of doubt it, but regardless of Brad you’re not gonna stop people from asking the question.

    Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’m surprised that you don’t see the futility of trying. So you get the Harvard Crimson in trouble or something, you’ve just become part of the “vast conspiracy” that I’m sure all holocaust deniers feel is suppressing “the obvious truth”.

  2. your comments have no feel for any context of anti-semitism or even how the editorial process works in media. They sound like you just read an article or a book and are spitting out what you read.

  3. I doubt the motivations were antisemitic. It’s far more likely they were financial. Most newspapers have been getting hit with a sharp downturn in advertising, and the Crimson is no exception.

  4. A short follow-up to the Bradley Smith ad, on the three war memoirs by Eisenhower, De Gaulle, and Churchill:

    Eisenhower’s book, Crusade in Europe (1948), is a single volume of some 550 pages—the smallest of the three. Reviewing the index, one finds no listing for ‘Auschwitz’, ‘Holocaust’, or ‘gas chambers’. The single entry for ‘Jews’ refers to the following paragraph:

    “Of all these displaced persons, the Jews were in the most deplorable condition. For years they had been beaten, starved, and tortured. Even food, clothes, and decent treatment could not immediately enable them to shake off their hopelessness and apathy. They huddled together—they seemingly derived a feeling of safety out of crowding together in a single room—and there passively awaited whatever might befall. To secure for them adequate shelter, to establish a system of food distribution and medical service, to say nothing of providing decent sanitary facilities, heat, and light was a most difficult task. They were, in many instances, no longer capable of helping themselves; everything had to be done for them.” (pp. 439-440)

    No mention of extermination, mass murder, gassing, crematoria—nothing. Only “beaten, starved, and tortured”—which, given the alternative, isn’t so bad.

    De Gaulle’s work, The Complete War Memoirs (1954/1964), consists of three volumes and a total of more than 2,000 pages. In the index we again find no reference whatsoever to ‘Auschwitz’, ‘Holocaust’, or ‘gas chambers’—nor this time even to ‘Jews.’ This being the last-written of the three works (French original in 1954), De Gaulle obviously had plenty of time to reflect on the Holocaust; evidently it merited no discussion at all.

    The largest memoir was written by Churchill. The Second World War (1948-1953) is a massive, six-volume account of the war. It consumes nearly 4,500 pages of text. Once again, the indexes (one per volume) have no entries at all for ‘Auschwitz’, ‘Holocaust’, or ‘gas chamber.’ There are a few references to Jews, but most are simple passing comments. Only one entry, out of six volumes, addresses Jewish persecution. In Volume 1, page 58, we find one single phrase: “brutalities towards the Jews were rampant.”

    These men all knew what transpired at Nuremberg. They saw the concentration camp photos, and actually visited some of the sites. They had access to the most confidential information available. And yet: no extermination camps, no ‘6 million’, no gas chambers, no Auschwitz—only beatings, starvation, and assorted brutalities. One could almost be forgiven for thinking there was no ‘Holocaust’ at all.

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