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SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).

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Solution for Ukraine?
May 3rd, 2014 by Syd Walker

“The world has enough for everyone’s need,
but not enough for everyone’s greed”

Gandhi is probably not the neocons’ favorite source of quotations, but for most of us the words of the Mahatma ring true.

There’s plenty for all on planet earth – yes, even for 7+ billion of us! But.. we do have to share.

Actually, sharing is a lot more fun anyway. Militarism, imperialism, war and occupation – these are the Devil’s distractions. If we want to call ourselves Homo sapiens we should learn wisdom. A little more humility would be a good start..

Gandhi and King

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King – what might they have suggested?

Humility? Huh?

Where’s the humility in someone (me), who lives half a world away from Eastern Europe, who speaks no Russian or Ukrainian, who can barely find five Ukrainian cities on the map – and who has no extensive background in the complex history of this amazing region of the earth – proposing a ‘solution’ to the Ukrainian crisis?!!

In my defense, I can only say that my advice is free; accusations of over-pricing would be unfair.

Moreover, from what I’ve seen, all the ‘professional’ politicians, leaders, talking heads, spooks, bankers, diplomats – and heaven knows who else is earning a living out of this dangerous affair – seem to be making a shocking hash out of things right now.

Maybe the opinion of one fool on a distant hill is just what’s needed? So here goes..

The first thing is a starting point. What are we trying to achieve?

A short-term answer might be “avert crisis, avoid war, reduce tensions”. All this is very necessary – but hardly sufficient. This problem needs medium and long-term answers too. But what’s the question?

Surely the right question to ask is something like this:

How can the people of the area of planet earth that’s currently called ‘Ukraine’ be rapidly set on course for a prosperous, sustainable and happy future?

It’s not quite the same question as “how can Ukraine be set up for a prosperous, sustainable and happy future?” I think it’s a more useful question, given recent events.

Since independence nearly 25 years ago, Ukrainians (with a few notorious exceptions) have not enjoyed the prosperity widespread in Europe throughout that period as a whole. In recent years, Ukraine’s economic and financial situation has got worse, not better. Ukraine has rich human and natural resources, but hasn’t performed well as a state. How can life for Ukrainians be turned around – so they face a better future?

Two main offers of assistance have been made in recent months.

Russia offered help – quite a  lot of it ($15 bn), actually.. until Putin’s proposal was rejected last December by Ukrainian President Yanukovych, under intense pressure from the West.

Odessa Trades Union Building in flames - more than 40 killed in this atrocity

Odessa Trades Union Building in flames – more than 40 killed in this atrocity on May 2nd

The other offer has come from the West. After the Kiev coup in February, the USA quickly found a billion dollars. The IMF more recently announced a $17 bn loan, conditional on some provisos. The EU also has funds it can deploy.

Yet so indebted is Ukraine, so looted by plutocrats, so badly in need of new investment – that the full cost of putting the society back on its feet may be more than either side has offered so far. A lot more.

Who has that kind of money?

In theory Russia does – and the West does too (at least, it seems to be able to write its own expenses claims, whenever necessary to keep its elites afloat).

But both Russia and the West may have problems expending such a large sum on Ukraine. After all, Greeks  and Spaniards have been told by the EU to tighten their belts for years to come. The West might have serious difficulties selling generosity to Ukraine to its own long-suffering public. Russia may be less constrained – but similar considerations must surely apply there, too.

Towering above the problem of “where’s the money coming from?” is the stark reality that without co-operation between Russia and the West, spending on Ukraine cannot be really effective. If one side “wins” in Ukraine, that type of co-operation is likely to unachievable.

So let’s have a win-win solution – for Russia and for the West, and above all for the Ukrainian people. Isn’t that a better way to go?

How about SHARING responsibility for Ukraine – with some provinces (oblasts) administered under Russian care, and others under EU care?

In this situation, some of Ukraine would be the financial, political and security responsibility of the West; the remaining part would be Russia’s responsibility.

Ukraine - Map of Russian-speaking population

Percentage of people with Russian as their native language according to 2001 census (in regions aka Oblasts) – via Wikipedia

After an agreed period of time – say five years, by agreement guaranteed via UN resolution in the Security Council and General Assembly, plebiscites could be held in each of the oblasts. These would give these regional electorates the choice between a continuing arrangement of some kind wither with Russia, or with the EU.

I think the options should be limited to those two broad outcomes. There’s no advantage to the people turning Ukraine into a plethora of micro-states. Nor can future states be like Swiss Cheese – so oblasts would have to be contiguous with Russian territories to separate from EU-Ukraine and join Russian-Ukraine (and vice versa).

A natural split is suggested by the language map, which shows the proportion of Russian-speakers in the different oblasts. Clearly, the east and south of the current state have a significantly different character from the north and west. There are 24 oblasts in Ukraine as a whole; nine (including Crimea) are in the S/E. Why not have the EU in charge of the N/W, Russia in charge of the S/E?

The great advantage of a plebiscite after a few years is that it provides a real incentive for BOTH the EU and Russia to behave well in their respective areas of influence – and thus encourage the populations of those areas to voluntarily remain within their respective orbits. This replaces the mutually corrosive E-W conflict of the last few months with a virtuous cycle, in which BOTH ‘sides’ would be encouraged to improve life for the long-suffering Ukrainians.

There should be a few more ground rules. Citizens of any part of Ukraine should be eligible to live and work in any other. Ukraine as a whole should be demilitarized; long-term membership of NATO must be ruled out for any part of Ukraine. Russian-Ukraine as well as EU-Ukraine should be free from offensive heavy weaponry.

In the event that, after the plebiscite, some oblasts elect to join Russia rather than the EU, they would then be tasked with negotiating a satisfactory long-term arrangement between themselves and Russia. One option would be complete union with Russia. Another might be some kind of associate status. Similarly, any non-Russian oblasts would need to work internally – and with the EU – to establish a long-term model for their state.

There’s one bit of tidying up.. Just across the south-western border of Ukraine is a sliver of land on the north-east of Moldova, known as Trans-Dniester. Since Moldovan independence, this region has never settled happily into life within Moldova; its people are strongly pro-Russian and as recently as March asked the Duma to absorb them into the Russian State.

Garden

A nice, peaceful vegetable garden

Under the proposal above, this area would be contiguous with what I propose becomes Russian-Ukraine for the next few years. It would make sense it joins Russian-Ukraine for that period – but when a plebiscite is held there, its choice should probably include Moldova.

So, Ms Merkel, Mr Putin and Mr Obama. Please do think about this.

If you have a better solution, fantastic! Go for it!

If not, this one is free. Feel free to take it!

Personally, I wouldn’t bother asking the Brits their opinion. What’s it got to do with them? And for God’s sake, don’t bother asking the Israelis. We all know what those recidivist war-mongers want: they want you guys to be at each others throats. That’s probably why this entire Ukrainian mess came about when it did – to punish Mr Putin (and thus Mr Obama) for resisting their sordid plan to destroy the independence of Syria.

Fix a deal, along these lines, and we can all get back to planting vegetables – and enjoying the scenery and finer things of life.

Talking of which..

 

Profiles in Courage: Robert A. Taft
May 1st, 2014 by Syd Walker

Chapter 9: Robert A. Taft

from

Profiles in Courage (published 1956)

by John F. Kennedy

The late Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio was never President of the United States. Therein lies his personal tragedy. And therein lies his national greatness.

Profiles in CourageFor the Presidency was a goal that Bob Taft pursued throughout his career in the Senate, an ambition that this son of a former President always dreamed of realizing. As the leading exponent of the Republican philosophy for more than a decade, “Mr. Republican” was bitterly disappointed by his failure on three different occasions even to receive the nomination.

But Robert A. Taft was also a man who stuck fast to the basic principles in which he believed–and when fundamental principles were at issue, not even the lure of the White House, or the possibilities of injuring his candidacy, could deter him from speaking out. He was an able politician, but on more than one occasion chose to speak out in defense of a position no politician with like ambitions would have endorsed. He was, moreover, a brilliant political analyst, who knew that during his lifetime the number of American voters who agreed with the fundamental tenets of his political philosophy was destined to be a permanent minority, and that only by flattering new blocs of support–while carefully refraining from alienating any group which contained potential Taft voters–could he ever hope attain his goal. Yet he frequently flung to the winds the very restraints his own analysis advised, refusing to bow to any group, refusing to keep silent on any issue.

It is not that Bob Taft’s career in the Senate was a constant battle between popularity and principle as was John Quincy Adams'; he did not have to struggle to maintain his integrity like Thomas Hart Benton. His principles usually led him to conclusions which a substantial percentage of his constituents and political associates were willing to support. Although on occasions his political conduct reflected his political ambitions, popularity was not his guide on most fundamental matters. The Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act could not have gained him many votes in industrialized Ohio, for those who endorsed its curbs on union activity were already Taft supporters; but it brought furious anti-Taft reprisals during the 1950 Senate campaign by the unions in Ohio, and it nourished the belief that Taft could not win a Presidential contest, a belief which affected his chances for the nomination in 1952. Simultaneously, however, he was antagonizing the friends of Taft-Hartley, and endangering his own leadership in the Republican party, by his support of education, housing, health and other welfare measures.

Robert TaftThose who were shocked at these apparent departures from his traditional position did not comprehend that Taft’s conservatism contained a strong strain of pragmatism, which caused him to support intensive Federal activity in those areas that he believed not adequately served by the private enterprise system. Taft did not believe that this was inconsistent with the conservative doctrine; conservatism in his opinion was not irresponsibility. Thus he gave new dimensions to the conservative philosophy: he stuck to that faith when it reached its lowest depth of prestige and power and led it back to the level of responsibility and respectability. He was an unusual leader, for he lacked the fine arts of oratory and phrasemaking, he lacked blind devotion to the party line (unless he dictated it), and he lacked the politician’s natural instinct to avoid controversial positions and issues.

But he was more than a political leader, more than “Mr. Republican.” He was also a Taft–and thus “Mr. Integrity.” The Senator’s grandfather, Alphonso Taft, had moved West to practice law in 1830, writing his father that “The notorious selfishness and dishonesty of the great mass of men you find in New York is to my mind a serious obstacle to settling there.” And the Senator’s father was William Howard Taft, who knew well the meaning of political courage and political abuse when he stood by his Secretary of Interior, Ballinger, against the overwhelming opposition of Pinchot, Roosevelt and the progressive elements of his own party.

So Bob Taft, as his biographer has described it, was “born to integrity.” He was known in the Senate as a man who never broke an agreement, who never compromised his deeply felt Republican principles, who never practiced political deception. His bitter political enemy, Harry Truman, would say when the Senator died: “He and I did not agree on public policy, but he knew where I stood and I knew where he stood. We need intellectually honest men like Senator Taft.” Examples of his candor are endless and startling. The Ohioan once told a group in the heart of Republican farm territory that farm prices were too high; and he told still another farm group that “he was tired of seeing all these people riding in Cadillacs.” His support of an extensive Federal housing program caused a colleague to remark: “I hear the Socialists have gotten to Bob Taft.” He informed an important political associate who cherished a commendatory message signed by Taft that his assistant “sent those things out by the dozen” without the Senator even seeing, much less signing them. And a colleague recalls that he did not reject the ideas of his friends by gentle indirection, but by coldly and unhesitatingly terming them “nonsense.” “He had’,” as William S. White has written, “a luminous candor of purpose that was extraordinarily refreshing in a chamber not altogether devoted to candor.”

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude from this that Senator Taft was cold and abrupt in his personal relationships. I recall, from my own very brief service with him in the Senate and on the Senate Labor Committee in the last months of his life, my strong impression of a surprising and unusual personal charm, and a disarming simplicity of manner. It was these qualities, combined with an unflinching courage which he exhibited throughout his-entire life and most especially in his last days, that bound his adherents to him with unbreakable ties.

Perhaps we are as yet too close in time to the controversial elements in the career of Senator Taft to be able to measure his life with historical perspective. A man who can inspire intensely bitter enemies as well as intensely devoted followers is best judged after many years pass, enough years to permit the sediment of political and legislative battles to settle, so that we can assess our times more clearly.

But sufficient time has passed since 1946 to enable something of a detached view of Senator Taft’s act of courage in that year. Unlike the acts of Daniel Webster or Edmund Ross, it did not change history. Unlike those of John Quincy Adams, or Thomas Benton, it did not bring about his retirement from the Senate. Unlike most of those deeds of courage previously described, it did not even take place on the Senate floor. But as a piece of sheer candor in a period when candor was out of favor, as a bold plea for justice in a time of intolerance and hostility, it is worth remembering here.

In October of 1946, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio was the chief spokesman for the Republicans in Washington, the champion of his party in the national political arena and the likely Republican nominee for the Presidency in 1948. It was a time when even a Senator with such an established reputation for speaking his mind would have guarded his tongue, and particularly a Senator with so much at stake as Bob Taft. The party which had been his whole life, the Republicans of the Congress for whom he spoke, now once again were nearing the brink of success in the fall elections. Capturing for his party control of both Houses of Congress would enhance Bob Tafts prestige, reinforce his right to the Republican Presidential nomination and pave the way for his triumphant return to the White House from which his father had been somewhat ingloriously ousted in 1912. Or so it seemed to most political observers at the time, who assumed the Republican leader would say nothing to upset the applecart. With Congress out of session, with the tide running strongly against the incumbent Democrats, there appeared to be no necessity for the Senator to make more than the usual campaign utterances on the usual issues.

But Senator Taft was disturbed–and when he was disturbed it was his habit to speak out. He was disturbed by the War Crimes Trials of Axis leaders, then concluding in Germany and about to commence in Japan. The Nuremberg Trials, in which eleven notorious Nazis had been found guilty under an impressively documented indictment for “waging an aggressive war,” had been popular throughout the world and particularly in the United States. Equally popular was the sentence already announced. by the high tribunal: death.

But what kind of trial was this? “No matter how many books are written or briefs filed,” Supreme Court justice William 0. Douglas has recently written, “no matter how finely the lawyers analyzed it, the crime for which the Nazis were tried had never been formalized as a crime with the definiteness required by our legal standards, nor outlawed with a death penalty by the international community. By our standards that crime arose under an ex post facto law. Goering et al. deserved severe punishment. But their guilt did not justify us in substituting power for principle.”

These conclusions are shared, I believe, by a substantial number of American citizens today. And they were shared, at least privately, by a goodly number in 1946. But no politician of consequence would speak out-certainly not after the verdict had already been announced and preparations for the executions were already under way-none, that is, but Senator Taft.

The Constitution of the United States was the gospel which guided the policy decisions of the Senator from Ohio. It was his source, his weapon and his salvation. And when the Constitution commanded no “ex post facto laws,” Bob Taft accepted this precept as permanently wise and universally applicable. The Constitution was not a collection of loosely given political promises subject to broad interpretation. It was not a list of pleasing platitudes to be set lightly aside when expediency required it. It was the foundation of the American system of law and justice and he was repelled by the picture of his country discarding those Constitutional precepts in order to punish a vanquished enemy.

Still, why should he say anything? The Nuremberg Trials were at no time before the Congress for consideration. They were not in any sense an issue in the campaign. There was no Republican or Democratic position on a matter enthusiastically applauded by the entire nation. And no speech by any United States Senator, however powerful, could prevent the death sentence from being carried out. To speak out unnecessarily would be politically costly and clearly futile.

But Bob Taft spoke out.

On October 6, 1946, Senator Taft appeared before a conference on our Anglo-American heritage, sponsored by Kenyon College in Ohio. The war crimes trial was not an issue upon which conference speakers were expected to comment. But titling his address “Equal justice Under Law,” Taft cast aside his general reluctance to embark upon startlingly novel and dramatic approaches. “The trial of the vanquished by the victors,” he told an attentive if somewhat astonished audience, “cannot be impartial no matter how it is hedged about with the forms of justice.”

I question whether the hanging of those, who, however despicable, were the leaders of the German people, will ever discourage the making of aggressive war, for no one makes aggressive war unless he expects to win. About this whole judgment there is the spirit of vengeance, and vengeance is seldom justice. The hanging of the eleven men convicted will be a blot on the American record which we shall long regret.In these trials we have accepted the Russian idea of the purpose of trials—government policy and not justice-with little relation to Anglo-Saxon heritage. By clothing policy in the forms of legal procedure, we may discredit the whole idea of justice in Europe for years to come. In the last analysis, even at the end of a frightful war, we should view the future with mom hope if even our enemies believed that we had treated them justly in our English-speaking concept of law, in the provision of relief and in the final disposal of territory.

In ten days the Nazi leaders were to be hanged. But Bob Taft, speaking in cold, clipped matter-of-fact tones, deplored that sentence, and suggested that involuntary exile-similar to that imposed upon Napoleon -might be wiser. But even more deplorable, he said were the trials themselves, which “violate the fundamental principle of American law that a man cannot be tried under an ex post facto statute.” Nuremberg, the Ohio Senator insisted, was a blot on American Constitutional history, and a serious departure from our Anglo-Saxon heritage of fair and equal treatment, a heritage which had rightly made this country respected throughout the world. “We can’t even teach our own people the sound principles of liberty and justice,” he concluded. “We cannot teach them government in Germany by suppressing liberty and justice. As I see it, the English-speaking peoples have one great responsibility. That is to restore to the minds of men a devotion to equal justice under law.”

The speech exploded in the midst of a heated election campaign; and throughout the nation Republican candidates scurried for shelter while Democrats seized the opportunity to advance. Many, many people were outraged at Tafts remarks. Those who had fought, or whose men had fought and possibly died, to beat back the German aggressors were contemptuous of these fine phrases by a politician who had never seen battle. Those whose kinsmen or former, countrymen had been among the Jews, Poles, Czechs and other nationality groups terrorized by Hitler and his cohorts were shocked. The memories of the gas chambers at Buchenwald and other Nazi concentration camps, the stories of hideous atrocities which had been refreshed with new illustrations at Nuremberg, and the anguish and suffering which each new military casualty list had brought to thousands of American homes-these were among the immeasurable influences which caused many to react with pain and indignation when a United States Senator deplored the trials and sentences of these merely “despicable” men.

In New York, the most important state in any Presidential race, and a state where politics were particularly sensitive to the views of various nationality and minority groups, Democrats were joyous and Republicans angry and gloomy. The 1944 Republican Presidential nominee, and Taft’s bitter rival for party control and the 1948 nomination, New York’s Governor Thomas E. Dewey, declared that the verdicts were justified; and in a statement in which the New York Republican nominee for the Senate, Irving Ives, joined, he stated: “The defendants at Nuremberg had a fair and extensive trial. No one can have any sympathy for these Nazi leaders who brought such agony upon the world.” The Democratic State Campaign Manager in New York challenged Taft “to come into this state and repeat his plea for the lives of the Nazi war criminals.”

The Democratic Party has a perfect right to ask if the public wants the type of national administration, or state administration, favored by Senator Taft, who indicated he wants the lives of the convicted Nazis spared and who may very well be preparing the way for a Republican propaganda campaign to commute the death sentences of the Nazi murderers.

New York Republican Congressional candidate Jacob K. Javits sent a telegram to Taft calling his statement “a disservice to all we fought for and to the cause of future peace.” The Democratic nominee for United States Senator in New York expressed his deep shock at the Taft statement and his certainty it would be repudiated by “right-thinking and fair-minded Americans.” And the Democratic nominee for Governor told his audiences. that if Senator Taft had ever seen the victims of Nazi concentration camps, he never would have been able to make such a statement.

Even in the nation’s Capital, where Taft was greatly admired and his blunt candor was more or less expected, the reaction was no different. G.O.P. leaders generally declined official comment, but privately expressed their fears over the consequences for their Congressional candidates. At a press conference, the Chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee refused to comment on the subject, stating that he had “his own ideas” on the Nuremberg trials but did not “wish to enter into a controversy with Senator Taft.”

The Democrats, however, were jubilant—although concealing their glee behind a façade of shocked indignation. At his weekly press conference, President Truman smilingly suggested he would be glad to let Senator Taft and Governor Dewey fight the matter out. Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate (and later Vice President) Alben Barkely of Kentucky told a campaign audience that Taft “never experienced a crescendo of heart about the soup kitchens of 1932, but his heart bled anguishedly for the criminals at Nuremberg.” Typical of Democratic reaction was the statement of Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois, who called Tafts speech “a classical example of his muddled and confused thinking” and predicted it would “boomerang on his aspirations for the Presidential nomination of 1948.”

11,000,000 fighting veterans of World War 11 will answer Mr. Taft…. I doubt that the Republican National Chairman will permit the Senator to make any more speeches now that Taft has called the trials a blot on the American record….Neither the American people nor history will agree….Senator Taft, whether he believed it or not, was defending these culprits who were responsible for the murder of ten million people.

Even in Taft’s home bailiwick of Ohio, where his strict constitutionalism had won him immense popularity, the Senator’s speech brought anger, confusion and political reverberations. The Republican Senatorial candidate, former Governor John Bricker, was not only a close ally of Taft but had been the Vice Presidential nominee in 1944 as running mate to Governor Dewey. His Democratic opponent, incumbent Senator James Huffman, challenged Bricker to stand with either Taft or Dewey, declaring:

A country that has suffered the scourge of modern war, lost more than 300,000 of its finest men, and spent $300,000,000,000 of its resources because of the acts of these convicted gangsters can never feel that the sentences meted out have been too severe…. This is not the time to weaken in the punishment of international crimes, Such criticism, even if justified, should have been offered when the international tribunals were being set up.

The Toledo Blade told its readers that “on this issue, as on so many others, Senator ‘raft shows that he has a wonderful mind which knows practically everything and understands practically, nothing. . . .”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorialized that Taft “may be technically correct,” but turning “loose on the world the worst gang of cutthroats in all history … would have failed to give the world that great principle which humanity needs so desperately to have established: the principle that planning and waging aggressive war is definitely a crime against humanity.”

Senator Taft was disheartened by the voracity of his critics-and extremely uncomfortable when one of the acquitted Nazi leaders, Franz Von Papen, told interviewers upon his release from prison that he agreed with Tafts speech. A spokesman for Taft issued only one terse statement: “He has stated his feeling on the matter and feels that if others want to criticize him, let them go ahead.” But the Ohio Senator could not understand why even his old supporter, newspaper columnist David Lawrence, called his position nothing more than a “technical quibble.” And he must have been particularly distressed when respected Constitutional authorities such as the President of the American Bar Association, the Chairman of its Executive Committee and other leading members of the legal profession all deplored his statement and defended the trials as being in accordance with international law.

For Robert Taft had spoken, not in “defense of the Nazi murderers” (as a labor leader charged), not in defense of isolationism (as most observers assumed), but in defense of what he regarded to be the traditional American concepts of law and justice. As the apostle of strict constitutionalism, as the chief defense attorney for the conservative way of life and government, Robert Alphonso Taft was undeterred by the possibilities of injury to his party’s precarious position or his own Presidential prospects. To him, justice was at stake, and all other concerns were trivial. “It illustrates at once,” a columnist observed at that time, “the extreme stubbornness, integrity and political strongheadedness of Senator Taft.”

The fact that thousands disagree with him, and that it is politically embarrassing to other Republicans, probably did not bother Taft at all. He has for years been accustomed to making up his mind, regardless of whether it hurts him or anyone else. Taft surely must have known that his remarks would be twisted and misconstrued and that his timing would raise the devil in the current campaign. But it is characteristic of him that he went ahead anyway.

The storm raised by his speech eventually died down. It did not, after all the uproar, appear to affect the Republican sweep in 1946, nor was it-at least openly-an issue in Taft’s drive for the Presidential nomination in 1948. The Nazi leaders were hanged, and Taft and the country went on to other matters. But we are not concerned today with the question of whether Taft was right or wrong in his condemnation of the Nuremberg trials. What is noteworthy is the illustration furnished by this speech of Tafts unhesitating courage in standing against the flow of public opinion for a cause he believed to be right. His action was characteristic of the man who was labeled a reactionary, who was proud to be a conservative and who authored these lasting definitions of liberalism and liberty:

Liberalism implies particularly freedom of thought, freedom from orthodox dogma, the right of others to think differently from ones self. it implies a free mind, open to new ideas and willing to give attentive consideration….When I say liberty, I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and live.

This was the creed by which Senator Taft lived, and he sought in his own fashion and in his own way to provide an atmosphere in America in which others could do likewise.

(Profiles in Courage, JFK, 1956, Chapter 9, Robert A. Taft, pages 221 – 235)

- extracted from https://web.archive.org/web/20130204175817/http://www.jfkmontreal.com/profiles_in_courage.htm

Querying historical orthodoxy is NOT vilification!
Apr 30th, 2014 by Syd Walker

Submission to the Australian Federal Government re possible amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

In October 2011, I made a submission to an inquiry called by the Gillard Government – see 40 points for Australia’s Independent Inquiry into Media.

I mention this earlier effort partly because its content has some relevance to this new submission to the Abbott Government’s deliberations over Amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act.

But in addition, I mention it to note, as the postscript explains, that not only was my submission to that inquiry ignored by the Commissioners in their report. It was studiously ignored throughout the entire process. Indeed, bureaucrats in the Department of Communications declined to even list my submission on the Department’s website, alongside other submissions received and noted.

I hope this current submission has more success penetrating through to “decision-makers” in Government. However, for similar reasons to the earlier case, I doubt it. I suspect my input will once again find as much favour in the corridors of power as a bottle labelled ‘anthrax’. This is not because it is incoherent, vulgar or libelous. It’s because it is heretical.

Once again, in this new submission, I intend to fall foul of a comfortable, unspoken agreement within mainstream Australian discourse never to discuss certain “issues” – at least from unorthodox, ill-favoured perspectives. My input is therefore akin to a stink-bomb in the boudoir, or Holy Water before vampires (depending on one’s point of view..)

Therein lies the problem for anyone sharing my opinion on certain key issues. We face a culture in which ignoring our perspectives is the norm – and it is de rigeur to ridicule and vilify these views and those who hold them. The possibility of rational public debate on the matters we raise is close to zero, because the prevalent culture deems that debate itself – on these ‘sensitive’ topics – is an outrageous, unreasonable act.

THAT is the free speech disgrace – and the vilification disgrace – which would be a focus of debate right now in a truly rational society – a society in which discourse had not been warped by partisan interests for unfair advantage. Instead, I have yet to see this mentioned once in mainstream discourse.

Which “issues”?

In point 30 of my 40 points submission, which discussed bias in Australia’s national broadcaster (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), I listed four:

  • World War Two and what is commonly labelled ‘The Holocaust’
  • Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty
  • the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre
  • the London bombings of July 7th 2005

As I wrote back then:

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In each case, many ‘inconvenient facts’ flatly contradict the official government narratives. In each case, ABC coverage is entirely one-sided (in the case of the USS Liberty attack, there’s no mention at all of the topic on the ABC website – except in comments from the public to articles that don’t mention it!)”

Each of these four topics provides an example of a distorted official narrative that’s rather obviously adrift from the truth, yet which is subject to a stifling mass media consensus that helps suppress debate and obscure the truth.

Media suppression is largely achieved by ignoring dissidents, failing to allow them any voice in the mainstream media – and/or vilifying them in their absence, without any fair right of reply.

Of these four, the issue most relevant to the current submission is ‘The Holocaust’. This is the matter that’s been the subject of several court cases under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act since the mid 1990s. Those proceedings – notably the Scully and Töben prosecutions – are typically mentioned as cases that demonstrate Section 18C has generally functioned well (by contrast, it’s widely acknowledged the more famous ‘Bolt case’ had a messy and somewhat unsatisfactory outcome).

I beg to differ. In my opinion, the Scully and Töben prosecutions are cases at the heart of why the 1975 RDA was amended – under strong Zionist pressure back in 1995 – to include sections 18C and D, which weren’t part of the original 1975 legislation.

Far from being a triumph of jurisprudence, the Töben case exemplifies what’s really wrong with the 1995 amendments to the RDA. Its outcome cast a chill over free historical debate in this country – and it’s the reason why, in 2013, I wrote in support of repealing Section 18C of the RDA – see Abbott is right – 18C must go!

I’ll quote at some length from that 2013 article [minor changes have been made to the original for clarity]:

Töben’s key ‘thought-crime’ appears to be his rejection of the mainstream narrative of the history of World War Two. The judgement against Töben makes it clear that it was that specific issue – a matter of historical debate – that was the nub of the case brought against him.

The judgement handed down against Dr Töben by Justice Branson on 17th September 2002 sought to restrain him from “further publishing information which conveyed the following imputations:

(A) there is serious doubt that the Holocaust occurred; (B) it is unlikely that there were homicidal gas chambers Auschwitz; (C) Jewish people who are offended by and challenge Holocaust denial are of limited intelligence; (D) some Jewish people, for improper purposes, including financial gain, have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed.”

It was an extraordinarily illiberal judgement.

I’ll take the four points one by one:

(A) is meaningless without a precise definition of ‘The Holocaust’ which, as far as I can see, the judgement lacked. This term ‘The Holocaust’ was rarely used to signify events pertaining to the fate of Jews in World War Two until the 1970s. In previous decades – the 1950s/60s – ‘holocaust’ was used mainly to signify the much-feared prospect of a “nuclear holocaust”. The prevalent contemporary usage is actually quite recent.

“The Holocaust” is therefore quite different from historical events that were identified as such by protagonists at the time - such as the 1940 ‘Battle of Britain’ or the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Without a precise and generally agreed definition of what is meant by the term, statements such as “The Holocaust happened” or “the Holocaust didn’t happen” are so devoid of precise content that they are, effectively, meaningless.

(B) is a matter of historical debate. Judge Branson may not like the fact that numerous serious scholars have expressed doubts that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were ever used to kill human beings, as opposed to their overt function which was to de-louse clothing and bedding and hence help arrest the spread of typhus. But like it or not, it’s a fact that serious doubts have been expressed by numerous serious scholars. The debate over what really occurred at that time is ongoing.

In effect, Judge Branson arrogated to himself the right to determine historical fact. That’s a disgraceful thing for a judge to do. Courts of law are neither equipped to act as the arbiters of historical truth, nor should they ever attempt the task. In the Enlightenment tradition, history is for historians and the general public to debate – not for judges to specify.

(C) is a curiosity. I can find no evidence that Dr Töben ever made such a claim. Perhaps someone can point me to the exact quotation/s which formed the basis of Justice Branson’s decision on this? However, even if Tobin did make such a silly comment, its hard to see how that was not a legitimate part of public discourse. If you want to hear people insulting each other for being ‘stupid’, listen to Parliament, read the newspapers, get on Twitter or go the the pub. It happens all the time. If’s is a criminal offence to say people are of limited intelligence few indeed in our society are not guilty of it.

(D) the notion that some Jewish people “have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed” may cause offense to some people, but it’s extremely easy to prove that it’s a factual statement. The key word is “some”. There are numerous cases of demonstrably false claims made by some Jewish people on the events of World War Two. Some have been exposed in court; some have been openly acknowledged as false by the individuals who originally made them. If Justice Branson wished to restrain free speech on this point, he was clearly seeking to restrain people from telling (a part of) the truth. Judges have no business to do this in a civilized society that takes honesty seriously.

In short the judgement made by Justice Branson in 2002 was an extremely poor judgement that – in my opinion – should never have been made. It would surely have caused a major media outcry at the time were it not that the great majority of journalists and public commentators such as Jonathan Holmes live in fear that their careers will be jeopardised if they fall foul of the Jewish/Israel Lobby. They may also regard Töben as a distasteful character  – but I suspect that’s of secondary importance. After all, Mr Holmes is clearly no fan of Andrew Bolt, yet he felt able and compelled to speak in Bolt’s defence when the latter was on trial for breaching 18C of the RDA. Yet very few public commentators had the guts to criticise the earlier judgement against Dr Töben, which in certain key respects was an even more outrageous and sinister judgement.

Defending Töben’s right to make public statements about the (so-called) ‘Holocaust’ is not simply a matter of defending an eccentric’s right to express a unorthodox opinion. It’s not equivalent to saying that people should be free to express the view that the earth is flat. The events of World War Two have remained a dominant theme in public discourse to this day. They are mentioned incessantly in ongoing political debates. If nobody could discuss them openly at all, that would be bizarre, but at least it would be symmetrical and ‘fair’ in a silly kind of way. But what the likes of Justice Branson appear to believe is that the subject matter commonly described as ‘The Holocaust’ can and should be discussed – as long as the content of discussion is within court-approved boundaries. That’s outrageous!

For what it’s worth, I no longer believe the mainstream narrative about the events of the 1930s and 1940s. Some people might call me a “Holocaust Denier” because of my views. I repudiate the term and never use it myself except within inverted commas, regarding it as a deliberately nonsensical and misleading meme, invented decades after the end of World War Two as a sneaky way to police opinion.

I used to share the now-orthodox view of what happened in German concentration camps during World War Two – indeed, until a decade ago, I never really questioned it. Then came 9/11 and my gradual realisaton that the official 9/11 narrative is a pack of lies. After that, I began to take a deeper look at historical controversies such as the JFK assassination and the (so-called) “Holocaust”. I spent some considerable time looking at different sides of these debates – reviewing for the first time perspectives and analyses that barely ever get aired in the mainstream Western media. Now I’m deeply sceptical.

If that expression of my opinions causes offence, I regret it. I try not to cause offence unnecessarily to anyone – but history matters and more generally, the truth matters. I’m offended almost every time I watch the History Channel or open one of Mr Murdoch’s newspapers. But that’s life. I don’t seek to censor people whose views offend me or ban the expression of their opinions. What I do demand is that evidence-based contrary views are not excluded from mainstream discourse. I want them expressed more freely than at present and without fear of persecution. I argue for that publicly. Oh.. and I don’t want one-sided, distorted history that may not be debated openly made compulsory in schools. In fact, when I was a boy, I was often told that was the kind of reason why Britain fought World War Two!

This article began on the theme of ‘exceptions’ – so maybe it’s appropriate to end it on the same note.

It’s not quite true that no ‘mainstream’ commentators had the guts to stand up for Töben’s right to free speech. An exception was Janet Albrechtsen. Like Andrew Bolt, she writes for the Murdoch media. Like Bolt’s output, I usually find her articles irritating, crass and well off the mark. But in 2009 she penned an opinion piece entitled “The Freedom to be Offensive” with specific reference to Fred Töben and his tangle with the RDA. She said a number of things in the article with which I disagree, but did express the view that Töben should not be jailed for his views.

However, Ms Albrechtsen used the long-established formula that makes the opinion that so-called “Holocaust Deniers” should be allowed to speak acceptable in the mainstream Western media.  It’s the same formula used, for instance, by philosopher Peter Singer when he defended David Irving‘s right not be be jailed for his historical views.

Janet Albrechtsen’s trick was to thoroughly rubbish Töben’s beliefs in the same breath as defending his “free speech”. She did this prominently in her third paragraph:

‘I detest Frederick Töben’s views about the Holocaust. They are wrong. They are stupid. They are offensive. But using laws to censor his views does not enhance our democracy. It diminishes our democratic fibre by suggesting that we are too precious, or too lacking in confidence, to confront wrong words with right words. Let the man speak. These foolish views will be defeated by facts in the end.’

Without that sort of proviso, Ms Albrechtsen’s article would doubtless never have been published in The Australian. Without it, she’d probably never have wished to write it..

Janet Albrechtsen is quite entitled to her view – and to express it. But note she didn’t attempt to justify it in any way – not even by providing supporting references. She states it as a fact – something that her her readers are expected to take as given.

In its own way, that style of argument is another way of shrinking, rather than expanding, the domain of free speech. In general, it’s easier to police opinion by ridicule than via the courts. The key – and positive – difference is that the Albrechtsen/Singer approach does not land “offenders” in jail – although it does create an intellectual climate conducive to the marginalisation of the views they disparage.

What we really need – in my opinion – is full, respectful, polemic-free debate about the complexities of our history, especially about the thorny subject of World War Two that seems to get even more emotion-laden and propaganda-ridden as time goes by (not less, as is usual with historical events). We need to look back at the catastrophic major conflicts of recent history and try to understand what really happened, free from propaganda and bias. Only then can we learn the real lessons from our past.

Preventing that from happening seems to be the over-riding priority of all these “acceptable” commentators, whatever their posture on the topic of free speech.

The Töben case – and the issue of so-called ‘Holocaust denial’ – has been mentioned on numerous occasions during the extended debate over the last few weeks about changing the Racial Discrimination Act.

I’ve followed much of this debate via mainstream media and the internet, but not once – so far – have I seen a single politician, journalist or other ‘talking head’ express unequivocally the need for freedom to openly debate history without fear of legal sanction. That’s remarkable, tragic and not in the least ‘balanced’.

There are really two quite separate rights at stake

  • the right (or lack thereof) to make offensive comments and statements about other people with reference to their ethnicity
  • the right (or lack thereof) to debate history freely

The Zionist Lobby, with great cunning, has managed to conflate the two. It has put around the idea that anyone and everyone who queries its own preferred narrative about the events of World War Two must necessarily be motivated by bigotry and hatred. It labels all such people “fascists” (or worse!) and demands their exclusion from mainstream debate.

That is a great falsehood – and it’s obviously a falsehood to anyone cursorily familiar with the literature of what’s commonly known as ‘Holocaust revisionism’.

The first prominent intellectual to question the official’ Holocaust’ narrative (back in the 1950s, before the term ‘Holocaust’ was widely used for its current principal purpose), was the French left-wing wartime resistance fighter Roger Garaudy. Today, the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative is disputed by many on the left, right and centre of the political spectrum. Those who remain ignorant about this must surely rely only on mainstream discourse for information on the subject, because anyone who makes independent investigations can easily perceive the crude mis-characterization of opponents of ‘Holocaust orthodoxy”.

I have mixed views about the advisability of legislating against “racial abuse”. I would prefer complete abolition of 18C, in line with the clear, classical liberal principles espoused by John Stuart Mill in ‘On Liberty‘. But I also recognize the concern within many ethnic communities – and in any case, freedom to engage in vulgar vilification on the basis of ethnicity is not a “right” I seek or need.

The issue of freedom to debate history is an entirely different matter. In that case, I INSIST on an unequivocal right to free speech, in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is what I wrote in response to a recent article by Guy Rundle in New Matilda, to make the point that the desire to use the RDA to censor historical opinion and debate is not a broad-based aspiration – but rather the demand of ONE wealthy and self-interested Lobby:

An array of organisations representing different ethnic groups in Australia have lined up to oppose changes to 18C, as is their right. All of them say they’re concerned that bigoted and xenophobic speech should not be encouraged by government policy. 

They have a point. 

On the other hand, others argue that free speech better protects minority rights in the long run, that bigotry and xenophobia cannot be legislated away and that the attempt to do so may be counter-productive. 

I put myself in the latter category – siding with John Stuart Mill rather than Lenin on that particular issue. However, it’s a debate reasonable people can have. In our imperfect world, we probably should be having it. It’s a debate in which there can be plenty of common ground; left to run with mutual respect and goodwill, a reasonable and fair outcome should be achievable.

Then there’s another debate – the debate about whether people who have unorthodox opinions about history should be permitted to air them in public – or not. 

It is, needless to say, an entirely different controversy about a quite different issue. Asked whether historical debate should be subject to censorship, most people DON’T believe censorship is appropriate. I gather from his remarks in this article that Guy agrees – so that he and I are on the same side in that particular debate. 

So how is it that anyone spends a moment defending the part of 18C that I find most objectionable: its use to persecute unorthodox historical opinions, as in the Töben case?

This is especially puzzling given that – as far as I know – only ONE of the ethnic lobbies supporting 18C has ever sought to use it to stifle historical debate. 

That lobby is “the Jewish lobby” as Guy describes it. Of course, not every person in Australia of Jewish heritage necessarily agree with the peak Jewish lobby groups on this – but it is the position of the major Jewish organisations who have expressed a view on 18C, to date. They want a law in Australia to suppress historical opinions which they dislike – and have used 18C for this purpose in the past.

By contrast, Aboriginal groups have never been so unwise as to suggest that any particular perspectives on their own history should be protected by law. Henry Reynolds is free to publish his views about the extent of massacres on “The Frontier” as Aboriginals were brutally evicted from their ancestral lands. Keith Windshuttle is free to disagree. The ABC is free to report the debate, giving both sides an airing.

That’s how history should be discussed in a free society. Under weight of evidence and by strength of argument, prevailing opinions change over time. Under this process, we’re more likely to establish the truth – although it may take time and hard work to bring crucial facts and perspectives to light.

This approach has pitfalls, but they are less serious than the pitfalls of legislating for historical truth. It’s true some folk – such as people in complete denial about the violent behaviour of Europeans as they colonized Australia – might claim there were no massacres at all. It would be a foolish claim to make – easy to refute with solid historical evidence. Yes, in theory, extreme and highly improbable claims can be made – and sometimes are. Yet to their great credit, the Aboriginal people of this country seem comfortable leaving the truth about our past to open debate. 

The question that should be asked of the Jewish lobby is why – uniquely – it wants legislation to defend its own preferred view of history?

If, as Rundle asserts, “Holocaust denial” is “based on no evidence at all” it should not be hard to refute decisively in open debate. 

One might think that’s especially the case in a society, such as ours, where it’s considered normal to exclude “Holocaust deniers” from any opportunity to present their case in the mass media – or to debate opponents in open forums.

But no, the Jewish lobby seems to want historical views it dislikes actually criminalized by law. This either indicates a unique certainty that they alone know the truth about history, deep insecurity that open debate may not support their version of the truth – or both. 

The Roman historian Cassius Dio, writing about the Kitos War in 115-117AD, stated that no less than 240,000 Roman citizens and others were massacred by Jewish rebels in Cyprus alone in that bloody era.

Personally, I’m sceptical about that figure. It may be accurate – but I’d like more evidence before accepting it. After all, there have been many cases in history when victors have misreported conflicts – typically by downplaying their own atrocities and super-sizing the alleged misdeeds of the vanquished.

If the same principle was applied to the Kitos War as is applied to the Second World War, I would be labelled a “Kitos Denier” or some such term of abuse. I would never be given the opportunity to present my arguments in public. I would be publicly vilified, repeatedly and without right of reply. 

There might also be a public debate about just how much I – as a Kitos War denier – should be persecuted. In this debate, my friends would argue that I should not be subject to jailing for my “malign and demented” views; those less friendly would push for criminal sanctions.

It is possible for societies to treat all history in this way – as a subject area to be affirmed or “denied”, with the latter subject to persecution. It is not possible for a society in the Enlightenment tradition to treat history in this way. 

We can persecute “deniers” or we can uphold the Socratic tradition. We can’t do both.

In terms of the Government’s exposure draft of its proposed amendments to the RDA, I have a hierarchy of preference.

My first preference is complete abolition of 18C and D, without replacement.

My second preference is that the current proposed amendments are enacted, in full – in particular with the inclusion of the amended version of 18D which appear to provide a robust defense/exclusion for anyone engaged in serious discussion.

My third preference is that the RDA is left exactly as it is.

My last preference – and my greatest fear – is that the RDA will be amended by Government and/or the Parliament in a way that’s even more restrictive than now of the right to openly debate history and articulate heterodox historical opinions and analysis.

I expressed this concern in another comment that I made to another New Matilda article, in this case by Ben Eltham on the Bolt case and 18c:

While I think Brandis – and possible Abbott – may have genuinely held libertarian views about free speech, I don’t trust the Coalition on this issue (although sadly, I trust Labor and the Greens even less.. on this one issue).

The net result of 18C on the thorny topic of judicially-enforced historical ‘truth’ has been a handful of show trials (eg Scully and Töben), while more-carefully worded querying of 1930s/40s history has not, so far, been persecuted.

But there has been a more important effect. That has been to give the mass media a rationalization for why they report and discuss “The Holocaust” with such egregious bias.

Roughly a decade ago, I emailed Phillip Adams to ask why, after an hour-long, utterly one-sided interview he gave to one of David Irving’s most prominent critics on Late Night Live, in which Irving was repeatedly vilified, he didn’t invite Irving to reply. Adams responded that he didn’t think Irving would dare accept. I emailed David Irving (for the first time) to ask him directly if he was willing to be interviewed on Australian radio. He said he most certainly was – but doubted the offer would come to anything. He was right. When I emailed Adams again to say Irving accepted, he ignored my correspondence.

When I re-read Adams’ emails, he did at one time mention there might be ‘legal issues’. I presume he had in mind the Töben case. As long as 18C is on the statute books, it facilitates wholly one-sided coverage of this important history in mass media, schools, academia and public discourse in general. Someone like Adams or his producer can avoid accusations of bias by claiming they are compliant with the law.

So what could be worse than 18C to someone of my views? That’s easy. We could have laws as strict as Germany, France or Israel – laws specifically and purposefully outlawing heterodox historical opinion. This often leads to extreme nuttiness. In France, for instance, it’s illegal to challenge the verdict of the Nuremberg Trials. Those trials, inter alia, found the Germans guilty of the Katyn Massacre. Yet over 20 years ago Gorbachev admitted that the Soviet Union was responsible for that massacre and apologized to the Polish Government!

My fear is that, when the dust settles on this debate, Australia may end up with more – not less – irrational laws on the judicial enforcement of historical fact, with all “sides of politics’ cheering loudly.

If my worst fears are realized, Australian jails will probably start to house more and more dissidents who openly dispute judicially-enforced historical orthodoxy.

This would not be pleasant for those involved – but ultimately it may come back to haunt the ‘enforcers’. Indeed, I believe the Zionist Lobby, epitomized by AIPAC, may rue the day it ever pushed for such an unjustifiable legal advantage.

One pleasant surprise, for me, over the last month, was the publication in full of a comment I posted on the Castan Centre website, in response to an article re amending the RDA by Sarah Joseph. I was surprised because my comment was somewhat combative in tone – although I sincerely believed what I wrote.

It may be a suitable way to conclude this submission:

Freedom to debate history without fear is the key freedom that concerns me.

I’ve summarized my views about this most recently here.

Prior to the 2013 Federal election, I wrote in support of abolishing 18C here.

The Zionist Lobby – uniquely among Australia’s ethnic/religious lobbies – has used the RDA to censor historical views it doesn’t like – and to get judges to determine what constitute acceptable (and legal!) historical opinions. I fear it may now be flexing its muscles to obtain even more legal support for its efforts to silence critics of its actions, views and above all of its historical orthodoxies.

This would be very imprudent over-reach – as it would necessarily throw the spotlight to the very opinions which Zionists are most keen to enforce as orthodoxies, without any fair and open debate.

It has been at least two decades since Australians experienced anything resembling genuine debate in ANY of our mass media on the veracity of the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative. That, one might think, represents quite a success for those who most care about protecting that narrative.

Have AIJAC and its allies never heard of the expression “Quit while you’re ahead”?”

__________________________________

See also

 

 

Socrates wept! The megalomania of an anonymous Zionist
Apr 2nd, 2014 by Syd Walker

Yesterday I posted an article on this blog about the controversy in Australia over amending the Racial Discrimination Act.

My particular concern is to regain and strengthen the freedom to discuss human history – publicly and without fear of persecution – within Australia (and elsewhere).

My blog post consisted of a few comments I’d posted to other blogs on this topic, woven together with some commentary. The main source of material for my post were comments I’d posted in New Matilda, a left-of-centre, green-leaning Australian blog. 

One of these was an article by Guy Rundle. I want to discuss, in this post, the asymmetry in this often misunderstood debate about free speech and what’s been called, since the 1970s, ‘Holocaust denial’.

To re-cap, this is the comment I posted below Rundle’s article

An array of organisations representing different ethnic groups in Australia have lined up to oppose changes to 18C, as is their right. All of them say they’re concerned that bigoted and xenophobic speech should not be encouraged by government policy. 

They have a point. 

On the other hand, others argue that free speech better protects minority rights in the long run, that bigotry and xenophobia cannot be legislated away and that the attempt to do so may be counter-productive. 

I put myself in the latter category – siding with John Stuart Mill rather than Lenin on that particular issue. However, it’s a debate reasonable people can have. In our imperfect world, we probably should be having it. It’s a debate in which there can be plenty of common ground; left to run with mutual respect and goodwill, a reasonable and fair outcome should be achievable.

Then there’s another debate – the debate about whether people who have unorthodox opinions about history should be permitted to air them in public – or not. 

It is, needless to say, an entirely different controversy about a quite different issue. Asked whether historical debate should be subject to censorship, most people DON’T believe censorship is appropriate. I gather from his remarks in this article that Guy agrees – so that he and I are on the same side in that particular debate. 

So how is it that anyone spends a moment defending the part of 18C that I find most objectionable: its use to persecute unorthdox historical opinions, as in the Töben case?

This is especially puzzling given that – as far as I know – only ONE of the ethnic lobbies supporting 18C has ever sought to use it to stifle historical debate. 

That lobby is “the Jewish lobby” as Guy describes it. Of course, not every person in Australia of Jewish heritage necessarily agree with the peak Jewish lobby groups on this – but it is the position of the major Jewish organisations who have expressed a view on 18C, to date. They want a law in Australia to suppress historical opinions which they dislike – and have used 18C for this purpose in the past.

By contrast, Aboriginal groups have never been so boorish and unwise as to suggest that any particular perspectives on their own history should be protected by law. Henry Reynolds is free to publish his views about the extent of massacres on “The Frontier” as Aboriginals were brutally evicted from their ancestral lands. Keith Windshuttle is free to disagree. The ABC is free to report the debate, giving both sides an airing.

That’s how history should be discussed in a free society. Under weight of evidence and by strength of argument, prevailing opinions change over time. Under this process, we’re more likely to establish the truth – although it may take time and hard work to bring crucial facts and perspectives to light.

This approach has pitfalls, but they are less serious than the pitfalls of legislating for historical truth. It’s true some folk – such as people in complete denial about the violent behaviour of Europeans as they colonized Australia – might claim there were no massacres at all. It would be a foolish claim to make – easy to refute with solid historical evidence. Yes, in theory, extreme and highly improbable claims can be made – and sometimes are. Yet to their great credit, the Aboriginal people of this country seem comfortable leaving the truth about our past to open debate. 

The question that should be asked of the Jewish lobby is why – uniquely – it wants legislation to defend its own preferred view of history?

If, as Rundle asserts, “Holocaust denial” is “based on no evidence at all” it should not be hard to refute decisively in open debate. 

One might think that the mainstream view is especially in a society, such as ours, where it’s considered normal to exclude “Holocaust deniers” from any opportunity to present their case in the mass media – or to debate opponents in open forums.

But no, the Jewish lobby seems to want historical views it dislikes actually criminalized by law. This either indicates a unique certainty that they alone know the truth about history, a unique insecurity that open debate may not support their version of the truth – or both. 

The Roman historian Cassius Dio, writing about the Kitos War in 115-117AD, stated that no less than 240,000 Roman citizens and others were massacred by Jewish rebels in Cyprus alone in that bloody era.

Personally, I’m sceptical about that figure. It may be acurrate – but I’d like more evidence before accepting it. After all, there have been many cases in history when victors have misreported conflicts – typically by downplaying their own atrocities and supersizing the alleged misdeeds of the vanquished.

If the same principle was applied to the Kitos War as is applied to the Second World War, I would be labelled a “Kitos Denier” or some such term of abuse. I would never be given the opportunity to present my arguments in public. I would be publicly vilified, repeatedly and without right of reply. 

There might also be a public debate about just how much I – as a Kitos War denier – should be persecuted. In this debate, my friends would argue that I should not be subject to jailing for my “malign and demented” views; those less friendly would push for criminal sanctions.

It is possible for societies to treat all history in this way – as a subject area to be affirmed or “denied”, with the latter subject to persecution. It is not possible for a society in the Enlightenment tradition to treat history in this way. 

We can persecute “deniers” or we can uphold the Socratic tradition. We can’t do both.

This comment attracted a few responses, some favourable.

However, one of the New Matilda regulars took strong exception to my post. This is someone who posts under the pseudonym “O Puhleeze”, who often takes a passionate pro-Israel position when Israel/Palestine is the topic under under discussion.

I’d usually be disinclined to reproduce comments from another source here, but in this case I’m making an exception. The person in question posts anonymously so his/her privacy is in no way affected, while her/her posts are of more general interest.

This was the ensuring dialogue between ‘O Puhleeze” and myself. I’ve made minimal corrections for typos and added my emphasis to a few of my protagonist’s remarks:

O Puhleeze: 

SW: We can persecute “deniers” or we can uphold the Socratic tradition. We can’t do both.

I beg to differ. We can. There are laws upholding free speech, and there are laws criminalising assault.

Trouble is, the Holocaust deniers, like say, GF Toben and deniers of the Aboriginal holocaust, like K Windschuttle, are generally fond of getting attention, and such denial is an excellent way to get it. Moreover, if their claims are not answered to the level of detail they demand, their next claim is that said claims are unanswerable. Checkmate. The deniers run the game.

For survivors of either holocaust and for their relatives, this is an understandably intolerable situation, and to my limited knowledge, they favour criminalising such denial.

To deny either holocaust to a survivor, who went through it, or to one close to that survivor who has to live with the consequences of both the holocaust and the denial of it, the choice is to enter into endless debate with the denier, or to see the denier claim victory.

If there was any justice, a denier could be charged at least with assault, or better still, with being an accomplice to murder. Not manslaughter, murder. Because that is what they are. For the charge to stick, a court would simply have to become satisfied that such murder of Jews, Aborigines… had taken place.

Rather than face a stretch of porridge, the convicted defendant should be heavily fined, and the money used under the court’s direction in buying publicity for the victim’s case. In a just world, what goes around comes around. If you are a passionate enough believer, you should put your money where your mouth is.

Holocaust deniers can not be laughed off the way flat Earthers can be laughed off. It is assult on the victims.

Syd Walker:

@O. Puhleez: My parents did not fight in World War Two so there would be laws in years to come against the open discussion of that event. At least they didn’t think they did. Their narrative as conveyed to me was the exact opposite.

Tens of millions of deaths were directly attributable to World War Two. How do we honour any those folk by refusing to discuss that history openly and without censorship?

Why does the Jewish lobby feel it can police human history? What gives it that right? Why is it so keen to do so?

O Puhleeze:

SW: Your parents fought the Nazi regime that gave the world the Jewish holocaust. I do not think they would welcome people mouthing off that their cause was all an illusion. Racial superiority was the basis of the whole Nazi regime; its invasion of the East, and of the death camps.

If I go around the place saying that Syd Walker should be exterminated, I am guilty of a crime already as far as I understand the law. Yet that is a restriction on my ‘free speech’.

I just suggest that Holocaust deniers should have to justify themselves before a court of law. That’s all.

 Syd Walker:

O. Puhleez: Your argument is utterly spurious. I’m not inciting anyone to violence. I’m arguing that we must be free to discuss history.

The essentials of “The Holocaust” narrative that you now find such a need to defend were given to the British Parliament in a speech by Lord Victor Rothschild to the House of Lords in 1946, a few days after the Zionist atrocity of the King David Hotel bombing. They are not, however, to be found in the memoirs of Winston Churchill, De Gaulle or Eisenhower. In the current publishing environment, that would probably make Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower “deniers”.

Your notion of charging people you label “deniers” as accessories to murder highlights just how nutty elements of the Israel Lobby are in this country – and what awaits us in the future if the rest of us just roll over and let bullies impose their agenda.

 O Puhleeze:

SW: The essentials of “The Holocaust” narrative that you now find such a need to defend were given to the British Parliament in a speech by Lord Victor Rothschild to the House of Lords in 1946, a few days after the Zionist atrocity of the King David Hotel bombing.

Say no more, Syd. Just a mention of the name of Rothschild in this connection proves that the alleged ‘Holocaust’ was all a Zionist conspiracy; probably hatched in some smoke-filled back room of a Rothschild bank. (Mind you, there is nothing in what you wrote above to prove that the alleged bombing of the alleged King David Hotel in whatever alleged location and in whatever alleged year, actually took place.)

They are not, however, to be found in the memoirs of Winston Churchill, De Gaulle or Eisenhower.

What more evidence does one need? It was therefore all a fiendish concoction!

In the current publishing environment, that would probably make Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower “deniers”.

Well actually, no. If I go into print saying that Syd Walker has got naturally green hair, I may be right and I may (more likely) be wrong. But if I go into print about Syd Walker and fail to mention his hair at all, it does not mean that he has not got any, neither does it mean that his hair is colourless, nor for that matter, that it has any particular colour. And, by the way, it could just be that it is green. Naturally green. That possibility is still wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open.

If Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower fail to mention the Holocaust in their memoirs, all that proves is that Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower have failed to mention the Holocaust in their memoirs. Nothing else follows from that. Nothing at all. Repeat: nothing.

I’ll conclude with few comments on this dialogue.

First, my reference to the 1946 House of Lords speech by Victor Rothschild is not fantasy. In Re-reading the Fifth Man I cite the entire Hansard transcript. It’s well worth reading.

Second, anyone curious about the absence of reference to homicidal gas chambers and other core components of “The Holocaust” narrative in the written histories of Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower, will find more information in an article called ‘The Detail’ by French academic Robert Faurisson.

Third, O Puhleeze demonstrates extraordinary vulgarity in purporting to know what views my parents would have now on the subject of World War Two and free speech, if alive today. I wouldn’t claim to know that with certainty – and I knew them personally.

Now to deal with “O Puhleeze’s” highlighted remarks:

“The deniers run the game”

It takes gall to stand the truth on its head and this choice little extract does precisely that, in trumps.

Let me make it plain; I don’t embrace the term “Holocaust denier”. I think its a loaded term that deliberately mis-frames the issues at stake. I can understand why others occasionally choose to accept the label – and doubtless to someone of “O Puhleeze’s” opinions, all this nuance is bunkum anyway. He/she presumably has us all branded as “Holocaust deniers” without further discussion. After all, it’s hard to argue his/her crass case without using the label.

In any event, to state “the deniers run the game” is such a ludicrous inversion of reality the mind reels.

Over the last decade, to my knowledge, Australia’s mass media has NOT ONCE given favourable coverage to ANYONE espousing sceptical views about “The Holocaust”. By contrast, barely a day has gone by without one mention or another to “The Holocaust”, often on ways that bolster the “official” narrative (Six million dead Jews, via massive use of homicidal gas chambers under the direct orders by Hitler).

I’m not aware of a single interview in the Australian mass media in which someone branded as a “Holocaust denier” was even allowed to explain their position in their own words. Short, edited sound-bites wrapped in negative commentary is the most I’ve ever seen.

To complain that “deniers rule the game” is a case of an elephant made paranoid by a flee. Just how dominant does the Jewish/Zionist Lobby want its preferred historical narratives to be?

The answer seems to be: totally dominant.

Anyhow who thinks that’s hyperbole might consider the second highlighted remark by “O Pleeze”: “If there was any justice, a denier could be charged at least with assault, or better still, with being an accomplice to murder.”

I think I’ll not trouble to deconstruct that nasty little example of megalomaniac authoritarian fantasy. This is like the daydream of a tinpot dictator. It speaks for itself.

Here he/she goes again.. more twisted megalomania: “the convicted defendant should be heavily fined, and the money used under the court’s direction in buying publicity for the victim’s case”

Last but not least: “If I go around the place saying that Syd Walker should be exterminated, I am guilty of a crime already as far as I understand the law. Yet that is a restriction on my ‘free speech’.”

Yes, “O Puhleeze”. My regrets for any limitation on your free speech, but I would indeed prefer that you refrain from incitement to murder.

Your comment could be read as subtly-worded intimidation, but presumably that wasn’t your intention. No-one with the facts on their side would ever need to stoop so low, would they?

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