Crimson Red-Faced Over Holocaust Flap

This summer it’s been easy to laugh at our friends in Cambridge. First Professor Gates did his best Bill Cole impersonation and now this (scan credit: Ivy Gate, who have had a field day with it).

An advertisement was placed on the bottom left corner of page A7 in the Tuesday, September 9 edition of the Crimson by one Bradley Smith, the founder of Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. Yes, you read that right. The Crimson ran an ad that questioned the Holocaust with bulletproof reasoning we’ll paraphrase: “Eisenhower didn’t mention gas chambers in his 582 page book, Crusade in Europe; you think a future president and Allied commander would just forget?”

Yes, the whole argument in the advertisement is based on that.

The ad, located opposite the one for the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum titled “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” asks readers if they can, “provide, with proof, the name of one person killed in a gas chamber in Auschwitz?”(emphasis in the original) His real goal appears to simply be to re-write history, having said things like, “I don’t want to spend time with adults anymore. I want to go to students. They are superficial. They are empty vessels to be filled.”

In other words, he thinks Harvard students are dumb enough to think the Holocaust never happened. I hate to burst Mr. Smith’s bubble (okay, that’s a lie), but it’s doubtful that anyone at Harvard is going to write their thesis on Holocaust denial like Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, did.

The Crimson has scrambled into damage control mode. A letter from the president states that the ad was received in the summer and wasn’t originally supposed to run and “fell through the cracks”; it saw the light of day as a result of “miscommunication” and any money taken for running the ad will be returned. Considering they would have had to cash a check and let this thing get through copy-editing, that’s one heck of a miscommunication.

For those Dartlog readers out there with a sense of history, this will no doubt strike you as slightly ironic. Back in the early 1990s, a disgruntled ex-staffer managed to slip a quote from Mein Kampf into the masthead of the Review as an extension of the usual Teddy Roosevelt quote. As Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Hart recalls here in a 1998 article, this was the infamous “Hitler quote incident” that led to the equally infamous “rally against hate” staged by Dartmouth’s then-President Freedman.

He invited the media and it didn’t play well. It’s probably the reason why Freedman was unable to become president of, ironically, Harvard in 1991 upon the retirement of Derek Bok. The Harvard Lampoon even created an 8-page parody issue that was distributed on Dartmouth’s campus in the spring of ’92. We’ll see if the Lampoon follows up on this gaffe, perhaps with a faux-issue of the Crimson that sports ads denying the existence of gravity and that the sky is blue.