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Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online
Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence
Table of Contents

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Responding to Extremist
Speech Online:

10 Frequently Asked Questions
Holocaust Denial:
Committee for Open Debate
on the Holocaust

Formerly the "Media Project Director" for IHR, longtime Holocaust denier Bradley Smith joined current IHR leader Mark Weber in founding the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) in 1987. On his Web site, Smith presents himself as an intellectually honest gadfly with no ax to grind.

Smith works hard to create the image of a man who wants to encourage reasonable debate among reasonable people. His admission that "the Hitlerian regime was antisemitic [sic] and persecuted Jews" seems meant to show that it is intellectual honesty, not anti-Semitism, that leads him to deny that "the German state pursued a plan to kill all Jews or used homicidal 'gassing chambers' for mass murder."32

For many years, Smith has been at the center of the deniers' college outreach program. He first drew public attention when about 70 college newspapers published his Holocaust denial ads, which he still regularly sends to campus editors, in the early and mid-1990s. All of these ads are reprinted at the CODOH Web site.

At first, Smith's ads featured long essays that outlined the deniers' position, such as Mark Weber's "The 'Jewish soap' myth." Smith's first widely published ad stated "the figure of 6 million Jewish deaths is an irresponsible exaggeration, and...no execution gas chambers existed in any camp in Europe which was under German control." This ad went on to note that the "purpose" of accounts of the Holocaust is "to drum up world sympathy and political and financial support for Jewish causes, especially for the formation of the State of Israel." Another early CODOH ad claimed "The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum displays no convincing proof whatsoever of homicidal gas chambers."

Upset about the high cost of these lengthy ads, Smith soon realized the power of the Internet. He began to place brief, inexpensive ads in school papers that merely listed his Web site and E-mail addresses. Not only did these ads cost less money, they also hid Smith's agenda. In addition, Smith tried to draw his readers' attention with misleading slogans such as "Ignore the Thought Police" and "Judge for yourself."

Smith's savvy marketing technique was tailor-made for students, many of whom are comfortable with the Internet, predisposed against authority, and willing to challenge received wisdom. Students responding favorably to these deceptive ads would realize Smith's intention to deny the Holocaust only after visiting the CODOH Web site, where they would receive his message without mediation.

Smith's latest ad hooks readers with a promise of a $250,000 reward to whoever can arrange a 90-minute, prime-time nationally televised debate about the Holocaust between Smith and ADL. Smith readily admits he doesn't "really expect a TV debate to take place." This ad, like Smith's previous efforts, is a "bait and switch," a deceptive enticement spouting hollow promises designed to encourage students to visit his "vast Internet archive of revisionist scholarship and comment."

Once at the CODOH site, students are targeted further. They are urged to distribute CODOH leaflets on their campuses and fight what Smith calls the "Campus Thought Police" (that is, legitimate Holocaust historians). Also, students are offered a set of links and asked to "choose a major" such as "Mathematics," "Science," or "Politics." By clicking on a "major," they are linked to Holocaust denial articles specially tailored to their areas of interest. Also presented is an innocuous-sounding section titled "Hot Links to Higher Learning," which contains links to a variety of Holocaust denial sites; Smith classifies such sites as "Social, Political and Historical Activism & Commentary."

On June 1, 1998, Smith added to his site another feature aimed at students: "AnswerMan!" Using what he believes is "hip" language that will appeal to young Web users, "AnswerMan!" writes:

From a fleet of virtual time-travel and data storage vehicles, referred to collectively as his Crystal Balls, AnswerMan! ranges the breadth and depth of the 20th Century, copping knowledge shamelessly to bring it to you...Which could mean helping you out with a term paper, if you think about it.33

Though he seeks to appear stylish, in his answers to visitors' questions "AnswerMan!" simply reiterates the same old lies, including the claim that Jews deported from Polish ghettos were simply sent to settlements "further East," not death camps.

The CODOH Web site today contains a vast amount of Holocaust-denial information. Visitors to the site can look for any one of over 1,000 separate documents using one of the site's eight search tools, such as its index of articles by subject and its chronological list of additions.

Particularly troublesome are the sections titled "War Crimes Trials" and "The Tangled Web: Zionism, Stalinism, and the Holocaust Story." "War Crimes Trials" offers articles that attack the objectivity and legal validity of the post-war Nuremberg Trials, where much information about the Holocaust first became public, and where the basic history of the genocide was first established. "The Tangled Web" suggests that Jews were responsible for Bolshevism in the Soviet Union while linking Zionism to Fascism. CODOH manages to present Jews as both International Communist conspirators and ultra-nationalist bigots who willingly cooperated with violent anti-Semites.

Smith also posts excerpts from his monthly print newsletter, "Smith's Report," and urges visitors to subscribe. Additionally, he offers the full text of his autobiographical book, Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, as well as the works of more than 50 other Holocaust deniers, including a group of "New Revisionist Voices." One "revisionist" author who receives special attention is David Irving.

Next: David Irving


32 "What I Believe, What I Don't, and Why," by Bradley Smith, from the CODOH Web site, retrieved November 1998

33 "AnswerMan!" from the CODOH Web site, retrieved November 1998


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2001 Anti-Defamation League