Friday, May 05, 2017

Zündel Resurfaces

A couple of weeks ago, Eugene Volokh, a lawyer, blogger, and columnist with the Washington Post, reported that Ernst Zündel had filed a petition to have the ban on his living in the United States overturned. The Department of Homeland Security declined. I wrote to Volokh the below e-mail, which I append here since it includes some (I think) interesting "inside baseball" about the Zündel case.

Also, looking for something not entirely different, I found this video (below) of Zündel in the 1990s, when he was the primary supplier of Nazi propaganda to Ewald Althans, who himself has since left the movement. Let's not forget exactly what Zündel is -- sob story aside.


I should start by saying that I'm not a lawyer. That said, the argument in the DHS decision seemed to me to be less about Zündel's conviction and more about his "moral turpitude." We could argue whether such an objection to a potential immigrant would be fair or right, and I think you made the case about schmucks rather well, but there's little question that an objection on this basis vis-à-vis Zündel is warranted.

My personal history with Zündel and more importantly his wife is a related but lengthy and mostly unrelated story. The relevant part begins in 2003, when Zündel was taken into custody for violating immigration statutes. I was approached then by Harry W. Mazal, a now deceased Holocaust educator with whom I had collaborated fairly extensively, to provide information to certain government offices to build a case for permanent deportation to Canada. I was told at the time that this information would also be provided to the Canadian government, which could result in Zündel being further deported to Germany, where he would likely be imprisoned for his Holocaust denial activities. As something of a First Amendment absolutist, I wrestled with this issue a bit but ultimately cooperated and contributed a dossier I had been given on Zündel's political and personal association.

The material I was given came from Zündel's then most recent ex-wife, Irene (he was, I believe, married twice before his current marriage). A huge caveat here is that there is no reason to take Irene's word at face value; she obviously had an ax to grind. However, much of what she reported could be independently verified.

The most explosive of the charges were that Zündel had firebombed his own house in Toronto to garner sympathy that he was being targeted by "JDL thugs" and that he had told his then "press secretary" and now wife, Ingrid Rimland, that if National Socialists ever took control of the government, her son Erwin (since deceased), who was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, would have to be euthanized to assure a pure genetic stock for the future.

As far as I know, the latter charge was never proved, but I mention it for two reasons. First, Ingrid had already attempted to capitalize on her son's disability by writing a supposedly non-fiction book, Demon Doctor, about how none other than Dr Josef Mengele had delivered Erwin in Paraguay (where Ingrid and her first husband had lived after the war) and had so botched the delivery that Erwin had a severe case of CP. When that gambit failed to earn any money or renown for Ingrid, as did her attempt to publish a sex therapy book, she threw in her lot with Holocaust deniers, who apparently retroactively exonerated Mengele and negated any value that Erwin's life might have had to her. That the purported difficulty that Ingrid had in raising Erwin was mentioned by Zündel's legal team in this case is rich; if any extreme hardship was part of her experience of raising Erwin, it would appear to have been self-imposed.

More to the point of what can be proved, it is worth mentioning that, once Zündel was returned to Canada, he was detained there because, by moving to the United States to marry Ingrid (itself a highly suspect move), he had vacated his status in Canada as a "landed immigrant" (equivalent to having a green card here). There, the government deliberated and found that Zündel could not remain in Canada because he constituted a security risk. This assessment was not based on his Holocaust denial beliefs alone. Rather, it was based on his lengthy associations with neo-Nazis, not just in Canada, but in the U.S. and Germany as well. Photographs and video are readily available online of Zündel addressing rallies of neo-Nazi skinheads, some of whom he employed as bodyguards. Zündel's most prominent political ally in Canada was Paul Fromm, a Canadian far right agitator and cosigner of the New Orleans Protocol -- a statement of cooperation and collaboration among white nationalist groups -- with David Duke, Don Black of Stormfront, and the now deceased Willis Carto, who more than any other single person, was responsible for keeping fascism buoyant as a political movement in the U.S.  Back in the 1990s, Tom Metzger, head of the White Aryan Resistance neo-Nazi group, ran a telephone hotline out of his house in Fallbrook, CA, not far from where Ingrid lived at  the time in the San Diego area. Curious to know just how deep the connects that the Rimland-Zündel network, which was already on my radar, had with the American extreme right ran, I left a question for Metzger about his connections, if any, to Zündel. Metzger's response was notable:

As you might recall, Metzger was found liable in a civil suit in the late 1980s for the murder of an Ethiopian exchange student in Portland, OR, by neo-Nazi skinheads.  These were Zündel's friends and associates when he lived in North America. This information was included in the dossier on Zündel as well.

If it is a fair observation for a U.S. court to consider the embrace of National Socialism and association/collaboration with international networks of extreme racists to be evidence of "moral turpitude," I think it might be, then there's no reason Zündel should be allowed here. As you said, we have enough of our own schmucks; we don't need to import more.

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