Saturday, November 12, 2011

An interview with «"Mike Smith" -- aka "Denier," aka "Bud"»

Yesterday, when I was looking up the list of columnists writing for the "Inconvenient History" journal, the name Michael K. Smith caught my attention.



Smith is a writer who currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area, like our old acquaintance Denierbud. I also remembered having read somewhere that Denierbud is a certain Mike Smith. So I asked my fellow bloggers what they thought of the idea that Denierbud and Michael K. Smith might be the same person.

Sergey Romanov thereupon did some googling and came upon an interview that Denierbud had given on 14 September 2008 to "The Hoover Hog", in which the interviewer referred to him as «"Mike Smith" -- aka "Denier," aka "Bud"».

Although the interview took place more than three years ago, and independently of whether or not Denierbud and Michael K. Smith are identical (which we consider unlikely for various reasons, despite the surprising coincidence of places of residence and apparently also names), Denierbud’s statements in the interview require some comments, insofar as he tried to justify his not linking or responding to HC’s deconstruction of his productions by, among other things, accusing HC bloggers (or at least the authors of those rebuttals) of making straw-man arguments.

The part of the interview I’m referring to is the following:

The folks over at Holocaust Controversies have chided you repeatedly for dodging tough questions, for failing to link to their blog, and for ducking their challenges to debate. What say you? Do they present arguments and evidence that threaten the credibility of your views? Are you chicken?

Yes, I remember the "chicken challenge" when Holocaust Controversies displayed a chicken on their main page along with a counter of the days that I STILL hadn't linked to them.
I've never linked to anybody. I don't even link to CODOH.
I think people should watch my videos, and then read their rebuttals, and make their own decision.
I tried to solicit rebuttals to my chapters at UC Berkeley and Harvard University, but they wouldn't let me place a newspaper ad asking for rebuttals.

I read all the Holocaust Controversies rebuttals. Occasionally I find a good point. Often I find a "straw man argument." It's important to know what a straw man argument is. It took me awhile to grasp the concept. I'll give an example: Muehlenkamp wrote in his Stroop Report rebuttal essay that I believe that the famous holocaust photo of the Jewish boy with his hands up, is staged, and then he writes all the reasons why that notion is absurd. I don't think the photo is staged though. I think it's at Hotel Polski. The Stroop Report forger cobbled photos from various places. Muehlenkamp presented my supposed position, and then knocked it down (like a straw man.) I find a lot of that at Holocaust Controversies, and like my writing right here, it's tedious to point it out. A rebuttal to a rebuttal tends to make confusing and non-gripping writing.


It should be said in fairness that Denierbud has in the meantime found the courage to link to our rebuttals of his videos, though in a manner that is as self-serving as it is silly - both the "not tenured professors" part (who does Denierbud think he is for his rubbish to receive replies from "tenured professors"?) and the thing about "ad hominem put-downs" (which brings to mind an appropriate comment made by one of our readers). In his section called "Rebuttals and Censorship" (presumably in order to create in the reader's mind an association between rebuttals and censorship, as if both were essentially the same thing), Denierbud presents our rebuttals to his videos (which are all collected in this blog) as follows:

Currently there are rebuttals written to episodes of One Third of the Holocaust. They are written by people who are knowledgable but not tenured professors in history departments, and the writers do engage in ad hominem put-downs. Nevertheless they can be found here. Read them and make your own decision.


Now to the accusation in the aforementioned interview that we engage in straw-man arguments. The blog that Denierbud obviously refers to is the one headed “The Stroop Report is a Forgery” (Part 3), and the part of this blog where Denierbud claims to have found a straw-man argument is apparently the following:

Against the reality of Nazi ideology stands the fantasy of denierbud’s manipulation scenario, which would have his female Jewish forger directing a large team of actors and photographers, some dressed up as SS-men and others as poor Jews, elaborately staging more than four dozen photographs against a background of burning buildings and/or urban ruins chosen or created for that sinister purpose, all of that at a time when Warsaw and all of Poland was under Nazi control, and furthermore without leaving any evidence to this large outdoor photo session (which even included a shot of the C.O. of the large-scale action himself) other than the “bully” effect discussed above and the claim of one Tsvi Nussbaum that he was the boy with his hands in the air, and that the photo had been taken not inside but outside the Warsaw ghetto and on a date after the completion of the Stroop Report.


So it’s true that I understood Denierbud’s comments about the photo in question as claiming or implying that the same had been staged.

Should I have understood them differently?

Indeed the current version of Denierbud's Stroop article ("Originally posted in September 2007. Rewritten in Oct. 2008 through Jan. 2009.") tells the reader that Denierbud doesn’t consider the photo to have been staged:

In the report the photo has the caption "Pulled from the bunkers by force." Yet the boy appears way too dressed up for that. As Richard Raskin writes in his book "A Child At Gunpoint"

"There is no sign of any kind – such as disheveled or dust-covered clothing – to indicate that the captives in the photo of the boy with his hands raised were 'pulled by force' from anything that might rightfully be called a 'bunker.'" (pg. 17)

Yet it's not a staged photo. The forger who created the Stroop Report couldn't have predicted this photo becoming the world's most famous holocaust photo. Thus it was problematic when New York doctor, Tsvi Nussbaum, recognized himself as the little boy and said that he had never been in the Warsaw ghetto, but just outside of it, a few months after the uprising, at the Hotel Polski. This would have been the time the forger was working on creating the Stroop Report forgery. Nussbaum said that the people there weren't taken to their deaths. The Nazis allowing the evacuation of some Jews from the Hotel Polski is a known wartime event.


However, as my aforementioned blog was written on 21.09.2007, what matters is what was in Denierbud’s article at that time. So I asked the wayback machine what Denierbud's Stroop article had looked like when I commented it.

This is what the article said about the "little boy" photo on 11.09.2007:

1) An unlikely photo for a commemorative book.

The most famous photo of the holocaust comes from the Stroop Report. It is the photo of the little boy with his hands raised up, with a soldier behind him holding a gun. Would a German general choose to include such an un-chivalric photo in a commemorative book? Any person in any culture is going to be turned off by the "bully" implication of the photo: a nice little boy scared into putting his hands up by a grown man with a gun. Who, below, is more likely to put this into a photo album:

A) A Jew trying to vilify the Nazis

B) A Nazi General

As a means to grasp the absurdity, try to imagine General Patton sending General Eisenhower a commemorative photo of an American soldier herding 5 year old Japanese children at gunpoint into some enclosure.

The forger who created the Stroop Report couldn't have predicted this photo becoming the world's most famous holocaust photo. Thus it was problematic when New York doctor, Tsvi Nussbaum, recognized himself as the little boy, and mentioning that he had never been in the Warsaw ghetto, but just outside of it, just after the uprising, at the Hotel Polski. This would have been the time the forger was working on creating the book. See how Nussbaum's account fits with the Stroop Report being a forgery and the photo being taken after the uprising, at the time the forger would have been working on creating it.
http://www.deathcamps.org/occupation/gunpoint.html


This is what the article said about the photo as late as 19.09.2008, almost a year after my blog had been published and five days after Denierbud gave his interview to "The Hoover Hog":

The most famous photo of the holocaust comes from the Stroop Report. It is the photo of the little boy with his hands raised up, with a soldier behind him holding a gun. Would a German general choose to include such an un-chivalric photo in a commemorative book? Any person in any culture is going to be turned off by the "bully" implication of the photo: a nice little boy scared into putting his hands up
by a grown man with a gun. Who, below, is more likely to put this into a photo album:

A) A Jew trying to vilify the Nazis

B) A Nazi General

As a means to grasp the absurdity, try to imagine General Patton sending General Eisenhower a commemorative photo of an American soldier herding 5 year old Japanese children at gunpoint into some enclosure.

The forger who created the Stroop Report couldn't have predicted this photo becoming the world's most famous holocaust photo. Thus it was problematic when New York doctor, Tsvi Nussbaum, recognized himself as the little boy, and mentioning that he had never been in the Warsaw ghetto, but just outside of it, just after the uprising, at the Hotel Polski. This would have been the time the forger was working on creating the book. See how Nussbaum's account fits with the Stroop Report being a forgery and the photo being taken after the uprising, at the time the forger would have been working on creating it.


The article’s first version whereby the author doesn’t consider the photograph to have been staged seems to have been the one of 19.12.2008.

So, what was there in any of the above-quoted texts (the one of 11.09.2007, ten days before my article was published, and the one online on 19.09.2008, almost a year after my article) to require assuming that Denierbud didn’t consider the photo to have been staged?

One might argue that his reference to Tsvi Nussbaum’s having recognized himself as the little boy and "mentioning that he had never been in the Warsaw ghetto, but just outside of it, just after the uprising, at the Hotel Polski", and his claim that Nussbaum’s account "fits with the Stroop Report being a forgery and the photo being taken after the uprising", point to Denierbud’s considering Nussbaum’s version of what the photo shows to be accurate.

However, the subsequent claim that the photo was taken "at the time the forger would have been working on creating" the supposedly fake Stroop Report speaks against this understanding. For unless Denierbud's forger is supposed to have had access to a photograph obviously shot by a photographer on the captors' side (and that shortly after the photo had been taken), how is the forger supposed to have had a photo depicting such a scene at his or her disposal, for placing it into the forged Stroop Report of Denierbud's fantasies, unless the photo had been staged by persons connected with the forger?

Thus Denierbud's claim that the photo was made at the time his forger was working on the supposed Stroop Report forgery at least suggested that a staged photo was, in Denierbud's opinion, the likeliest of possibilities. Nussbaum may not have stated that it was, but was there anything in Denierbud's text to rule out the understanding that he considered Nussbaum to have knowingly or unknowingly been involved in a staging?

Quite the contrary, if you look at the preceding paragraphs of Denierbud’s text, which are identical in the versions of 11.09.2007 and 19.09.2008 (emphases added):

1) The most famous photo of the holocaust comes from the Stroop Report. It is the photo of the little boy with his hands raised up, with a soldier behind him holding a gun. Would a German general choose to include such an un-chivalric photo in a commemorative book? Any person in any culture is going to be turned off by the "bully" implication of the photo: a nice little boy scared into putting his hands up by a grown man with a gun. Who, below, is more likely to put this into a photo album:

A) A Jew trying to vilify the Nazis


B) A Nazi General

As a means to grasp the absurdity, try to imagine General Patton sending General Eisenhower a commemorative photo of an American soldier herding 5 year old Japanese children at gunpoint into some enclosure.


Denierbud's claim is that the photo has a vilifying effect and was put into Stroop’s photo album by "a Jew trying to vilify the Nazis". This claim implies that in Denierbud's mind the Nazis didn't do such vile and "un-chivalric" things as herding children somewhere at gunpoint, and that a photo depicting them as doing such things could therefore not be authentic. If the photo was not authentic, then it was either the result of some technical manipulation or a staged photo, in either case meant to falsely accuse the Nazis of vile and "un-chivalric" behavior. I understood Denierbud’s claim as implying the latter alternative, i.e. that of a staged photo.

So the worst thing that Denierbud can accuse me of in connection with my above-quoted comments about his original Stroop article is that I misunderstood an argument of his that he didn't exactly express very clearly (as he seems to have realized himself, judging by his having considered it necessary to add in the current version, made after the interview, that the photo was not a staged photo and that "The Nazis allowing the evacuation of some Jews from the Hotel Polski is a known wartime event.").

There’s no room, on the other hand, for the accusation that I made a straw-man argument, i.e. misrepresented Denierbud’s argument in order to attack the misrepresented argument instead of the one he had actually made.

Denierbud is free to edit his nonsense as much as he likes, of course (I don’t usually follow these edits, but one of these days, if I should have nothing better to do, I'll read the whole of his Stroop article’s current version, to see if there’s anything not refuted in my 2007 blog series that is worth refuting). He should not, however, accuse people of setting up straw-men when they at worst misunderstood a somewhat-less-than-clear argument, and then edit his article so that it matches the accusation without pointing out the edit.

Denierbud’s dishonest behavior is in line with the falsehoods in his articles and videos that have been exposed on this blog site.

But Denierbud went even further in his interview. He claimed that he found "a lot of that" (i.e. straw man arguments) on the Holocaust Controversies blog site.

I don't think he would be able to substantiate his claim with anything better than the somewhat-less-than-honest "example" discussed above, but he's invited to give it a try.

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