Blog: Through Testimony

Make a clear choice: Deny all Holocaust deniers

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 9:09am -- josh.grossberg

Contributor: Stephen Smith

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 9:09am

Dear Mark Zuckerberg

I am delighted that at Recode you promised to rid Facebook of rampant misinformation; that is a step of real leadership that we need at this time. While I was initially disappointed that you did not include Holocaust Deniers in the category of those purposefully providing misinformation, as you thought perhaps they are not “intentionally getting it wrong", your clarifications that you "find Holocaust denial deeply offensive" and that you "didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” are welcome.

Just to be clear, outright Holocaust deniers know exactly what they’re doing. Their entire premise is built on a foundation of misinformation. Those who openly deny the Holocaust are either apologists for the Nazis, right wing radicals, religious extremists, and all are antisemites, even if they deny that too. If they are posting Holocaust denial on Facebook it is almost a certainty they fit into a combination of theses categories. Whether they are espousing the ideas, liking them or reposting them, their sympathies likely lie with scurrilous obfuscation and deception.

Deniers are not interested in correcting historical inaccuracies. Their only purpose is to spread the very kind of antisemisim that led to the Holocaust in the first place.

Mark, I would like to extend a warm invitation to visit USC Shoah Foundation. We have common goals in some key areas. Among the 50,000 Holocaust survivors that gave their testimony to our archive, we will doubtless find tens of thousands who warn us to be vigilant because hatred is a battle of ideas and attitudes, which when left unchecked can cause irreparable damage.

We need your platform for good. It is not your job to police the internet, or to oversee the ill intention of manipulative people, but some things are clear and unambiguous and cause great harm. I do hope we can all find a way to limit the purposeful harm caused by denial, whilst amplifying the good.

Please do come visit, it would be a pleasure to figure this out together.

Posts are contributed by individual authors. The opinions are solely the authors’ and are not necessarily a reflection of the views of USC Shoah Foundation.

About Stephen Smith

Stephen D Smith is the Andrew J. and Erna Finci Viterbi Executive Director Chair of the USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, whose Visual History Archive holds 53,000 testimonies of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides. He also holds the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education and is an Adjunct Professor of Religion. He founded the UK Holocaust Centre, The Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He was Project Director of the Kigali Genocide Centre, Rwanda. Smith, who trained as a Christian theologian, is an author, educator and researcher interested in memory of the Holocaust, and the causes and consequences of human conflict.

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