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The exchange of Sept. 4-5.


On August 30, 2002, we received the following letter to the editor from Miss Elizabeth McKinstry in response to a fund-raising appeal.

Howdy —

I was all set to make a donation to your site when I noticed you had added IHR to your list of links.

As a member of the Free State Project, I ended up learning a lot about the IHR when someone suggested we get Joe Sobran to endorse our project. Joe Sobran, after much research and reading, is not anti-semitic, in my opinion (although he is getting further and further on the fringe, I suspect in reaction to people painting him as an anti-semite). He has associated himself, out of frustration with the Zionists I would guess, with the IHR. The IHR, however, is a holocaust revisionist site, and in fact, lost a lawsuit to someone about their assertion regarding the existence of gassing in concentration camps.

I am only an occasional visitor to your site, but when I heard about its plight on Strike The Root, I rushed over to help. I just wanted you to know why now I'm unable to support your situation. I thought every other link you had listed was great, so perhaps this is a mistake. Regardless, I would not ask you to take it down, just as I'm sure you would not ask me for money to support, even indirectly, a group like the IHR.

Elizabeth McKinstry

A reply to Miss McKinstry

Miss McKinstry declares that she cannot support The Last Ditch because it includes a link to the Institute for Historical Review, which includes Holocaust revisionism among its other revisionist topics. Let me be clear, at the risk of repetitiveness: IHR deals with many revisionist topics, especially dealing with the World Wars — the Holocaust is only one of those topics. Now, war revisionism has been very dear to the hearts of libertarians and other anti-statists, who traditionally have been skeptical of America's ever-increasing number of "Good Wars." And although Miss McKinstry may be unaware of this fact, it is war that has had the greatest impact on enlarging the American state.

TLD has posted links to many other sites, as well as links to individual articles off site. It is unlikely that Miss McKinstry could identify with every position expressed at those other sites and in those other articles; certainly the editor-in-chief of TLD does not. He wrote as much with specific respect to another revisionist site in his article, "The Libertarian Party: New frontiers in free expression." (I am afraid the title is sarcastic.) Why is the link to a site that includes Holocaust revisionism enough to turn Miss McKinstry against TLD?

From her letter, it appears that she wants to make sure that her organization, "The Free State Project," excludes "anti-Semites." After "much research and reading," the judicious Miss McKinstry was able to absolve Mr. Joe Sobran of the charge of anti-Semitism. One wonders how she defines "anti-Semitism." Certainly that charge, wielded by influential Jewish groups, was sufficient to remove Mr. Sobran from his position as senior editor of National Review and cause him to be blacklisted by much of the conservative media. If Joe Sobran's definition of "anti-Semitism" is correct — anti-Semites being not those people who hate Jews but those people whom Jews hate — then he is clearly an "anti-Semite."

In any event, one wonders whether Miss McKinstry and her "Free State Project" display as much explicit and specific concern about anti-Palestinianism, anti-Islamism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Serbism, anti-Russianism, or any other form of anti-groupism as they do about anti-Semitism. I doubt that they do, and I propose that the usual reason for a special regard for anti-Semitism is just this: "Respectable" folks must make obeisance to the powerful. In modern America, one cannot be both "respectable" and a true champion of freedom. Well, I'll say it straight out: TLD is not "respectable."

Miss McKinstry may have been unaware of this, too, but TLD provides information that is outside of and contrary to the OFFICIAL BELIEFS promulgated and enforced by the government and powerful interests in American society. In fact, TLD prides itself in providing opinions that the government and powerful interests don't want people to hear. In fact, that's TLD's raison d'etre — its food section not really being on a par with that of the Washington Post. And if there is one view that many governments and at least one ultra-powerful interest group don't want people to hear, it is a revision of the official story of the Holocaust.

What is "Holocaust revisionism"? Contrary to the propagandists of the official story, Holocaust revisionists do not deny that huge numbers of Jews were killed by the Nazis and their allies during World War II. But the official Holocaust story contains certain crucial points that revisionists do question. According to the official story, the Holocaust was an unparalleled evil. As the noted Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer writes: "We should properly use the term 'Holocaust' to describe the policy of total physical annihilation of a nation or a people. To date, this has happened once, to the Jews under Nazism." (Yehuda Bauer, The Holocaust in Historical Perspective [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978], p. 38.) Presumably, the million or so Holocaust survivors still alive in the late 1990s were able to attest to that as a fact.

According to the official account, Nazi Germany pursued a policy of exterminating every single European Jew; and of the total of 6 million Jews exterminated, roughly half were killed in "death camps," most in lethal gas chambers. To deviate from that official account is deemed HATE. It leads to imprisonment in the "enlightened democracies" of Europe and to the loss of employment and blacklisting in the less-enlightened United States. The American Historical Association has ruled that it is off limits for historians to question the official story. The American Library Association opposes any library's acquisition of books that contest the official Holocaust story. American state schools and libraries put censorware on their computers to prevent users from accessing such "hate" sites.

Note that all the above groups seeking to limit information directly or indirectly involve taxpayer-funded government institutions whose claimed purpose is to disseminate information — schools, colleges, and libraries. Oh, and there's this: Congress itself, in its wisdom and majesty, has condemned Holocaust revisionism. In short, the American people are forced to finance the censoring of information and the intimidation of dissenters — all of which is presumably contrary to libertarianism.


One wonders how questioning the official Holocaust view can be considered hateful or anti-Semitic. It is curious that one may freely investigate (and revise) other grisly historical questions, such as the number of people murdered by Stalin and Mao, without running afoul of the authorities and the Establishment of Respectability that stands behind the authorities. One may even differ with the views characteristically held by members of other ethnic groups. For example, one may differ with the Armenian view of the genocide suffered at the hands of the Turks without being punished. In fact, one may differ with the Palestinian view of the Nakba ("catastrophe") of 1948 and generally be rewarded for so doing. Why is questioning the official Holocaust story considered to be so terrible a deed that it deserves criminal punishment?

The Establishment treats the Holocaust story as an absolute, incontestable truth, in contrast to the falsifiability and tentative nature of historical and scientific truths. Unlike the revisable accounts of conventional science or history, the Holocaust story thus reaches the status of an infallible dogma of religion. (Religions generally label their dogmas as such, and certainly American youth are not taught the truth of the Trinity in their state-school history classes.) This may be something else of which Miss McKinstry isn't aware, but freedom of inquiry is necessary for determining scientific and historical truths. Truth is reached by proposing and testing hypotheses, not by dogmatic assertions by the state and other powerful allied institutions. In the old days, even Establishment Liberals, in fact most especially Establishment Liberals, championed the concept of a "free marketplace of ideas" as the means to arrive at social and political truths, even as they reviled the free marketplace of goods and services. One would expect that libertarians, such as Miss McKinstry purports to be, would be at least as supportive of a "free marketplace of ideas" as the socialistic followers of John Dewey.

What logically prevents the dogmatic approach applied to the Holocaust from being applied to other subjects? Very little, it seems, in light of the fact that Western (or, if you like, post-Western) societies are rapidly moving in that very direction with their enforcement of Political Correctness, especially in the areas of race and gender. Why not go whole hog and replace science with ideology, as was done with Lysenkoism under Stalin? (On the other hand, even Stalin knew enough to keep the ideologues from interfering with the Soviet atomic bomb project, where "bourgeois" science prevailed.)


IHR is of value because it presents dissident views about important historical questions, including the Holocaust, war, and peace, that cannot exist in the mainstream media, popular or academic. Does that mean that everything IHR says is correct? Obviously not. But it is only when the question of the Holocaust can be freely investigated that one can hope to learn the truth about it. Even if one disagrees with the specific historical analyses provided by IHR, it seems hard for a lover of freedom and truth to reject its position that the issue of the Holocaust should be investigated in a spirit of free inquiry and with no governmental impediments or intimidation. In fact, if those who support the official version of the Holocaust really believe that their account can stand up to free and serious investigation, they should be happy to see that investigation taking place. Truth flourishes in sunlight.

The fact that such investigation is currently impossible or at least subject to gross intimidation must make any thinking person question the required belief. How can a reasoning person really believe that as many as 1.5 million people (recently reduced from 4 million) were exterminated at Auschwitz while at the same time rejecting any scientific investigation that could, by looking for physical evidence, conclude otherwise? One might think that advocates of a free society who believed in the quest for truth would support free inquiry on any subject.

Naturally I am not questioning Miss McKinstry's right to keep her money in her wallet. Moreover, I don't believe that she would, if she could, make investigations of the Holocaust formally illegal — but wouldn't an innocent bystander be entitled to wonder about that? After all, it is possible that a free society and Miss McKinstry's "free state" are not the same thing. Anarchists have always questioned whether freedom could exist within the context of the state. An innocent bystander might just conclude that Miss McKinstry has answered that question.

The Free State Project is at www.freestateproject.org.

The Institute for Historical Review is at www.ihr.org.

Strike the Root is at www.strike-the-root.com.

Sobran's is at www.sobran.com.

Nicholas Strakon comments

I associate myself wholeheartedly with the views expressed by Mr. Fields. In particular, I, too, am confident that — despite the encouragement she has lent to certain repressive forces and her rejection of the spirit of free inquiry — Miss McKinstry herself would never propose making any kind of historical investigation actually illegal.

Before proceeding further, I have to get this out of the way: Miss McKinstry's observation that IHR once "lost a lawsuit to someone" is a real scream. Is that what passes for doing one's homework these days?

Miss McKinstry finds that "every other link [we] had listed was great." Those include our links to Bradley Smith's much-reviled Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, at www.codoh.com, and to The Jewish Tribal Review, at http://web.archive.org/web/20030622125044/http://jewishtribalreview.org/. [Note: the JTR site has been closed owing to a lack of support, a fact that will delight many. I have revised the link so that it now leads to an archived version. — NS, summer 2004] We also feature a link to The Memory Hole at http://www.blancmange.net/tmh/welcome.html. The Memory Hole has Holocaust revisionist material as part of its primary content, notably including an interview with veteran revisionist (and anarchist) James J. Martin that was first published in the January 1976 issue of Reason magazine. It is not merely that Miss McKinstry's familiarity with TLD's primary content is faulty; even her familiarity with our links leaves much to be desired.

But that's not all. Miss McKinstry has recently posted messages in the forum at Strike the Root seeking to discourage others from donating to The Last Ditch. But Strike the Root itself links to The Memory Hole!

And not to stretch this madness too far, but STR also links to The Last Ditch.

I trust that in future Miss McKinstry will exercise more care in choosing her forums. And I hope that she may learn just how complicated and perilous the eternal fight against Hate really is. Contagion lurks everywhere.

September 2, 2002

Elizabeth McKinstry replies

I am quite taken aback by both the publishing of my letter (perhaps I was naive to think that a personal e-mail would remain private), and the exaggerated tone of both responses on your Website.

I am simply a reader of libertarian and anarcho-capitalist sites on the Web, who wanted to provide some feedback about TLD's appeal for money. While I am a strong believer in supporting content-rich Websites financially, I also believe if someone asks me for money, and I choose to decline, that it is only courteous to explain why I declined.

I want to make perfectly clear that I am not speaking for anyone but myself, and that when I mentioned Joe Sobran, I was careful to limit it to my opinion only. I do not consider myself in a position to "absolve" anyone, and such inflammatory rhetoric originates entirely with the commentator.

I also want to clarify the repeated assertion that the FSP is "my" project. It's not "my" project, although I am a member. I only mentioned it because it was the starting point from which I learned about the IHR. In a conversation about the project and possible sponsors, someone unrelated to the project pointed out the link between the IHR and Mr. Sobran. Perhaps you will disagree with this point of view, but in trying to promote the FSP, I think it is important to be aware of possible downsides to aspects of that promotion. In other words, I didn't want to be blindsided later on if I suggested Mr. Sobran. So I did some reading on my own, and personally reached the conclusions I mentioned in my original e-mail. This was no official FSP decision; again, it was a personal conclusion.

Now regarding the repeated insinuations that I am somehow anti-freedom of ideas, or pro-restriction of opinions with which I disagree (such as those held by the IHR) — those attacks are unfounded. As is clear from my short and simple e-mail, I never remotely suggested that anyone should be censored or restricted — or whatever paranoid accusations along those lines you choose to make. I simply indicated my market preference — I don't want it, so I'm not going to buy it. If TLD becomes the best-funded site on the web, so be it. I won't like it, but that's my problem, and no one else's.

I also want to address a couple specific comments. First, the assertion that "I have to get this out of the way: Miss McKinstry's observation that IHR once 'lost a lawsuit to someone' is a real scream. Is that what passes for doing one's homework these days?" I never intended my letter to be an academic document — it was not submitted for publication, and I certainly never expected to find out only indirectly that my letter had been published and then attacked by two commentators (no one from TLD even bothered to send me an e-mail). However, if you want a source for the lawsuit, please check out: http://shamash.org/holocaust/denial/mervsIHR.txt. The decision is available there.

Secondly, "Miss McKinstry finds that "every other link [we] had listed was great." Okay, I was just trying to be nice. Again, it was just a quick little e-mail I dashed off, for goodness' sakes.

It only confirms my view of the quality of TLD that you would choose to build up such a preposterous straw man from my e-mail. I can only suppose that the desperation of funding has caused you to behave so dishonorably.

Elizabeth McKinstry
Do You Want Liberty in Your Lifetime?
September 4, 2002


Nicholas Strakon replies

I thank Miss McKinstry for those elements of her reply that help clarify her meaning and her intentions. Mr. Fields may, of course, reply to those points relevant to what he wrote; and I will try not to trample them underfoot here.

The Mermelstein lawsuit against IHR, to which Miss McKinstry alludes, is not wholly unfamiliar to me. Since she has provided a link to material reflecting one side of that case, it is appropriate that I provide one reflecting the "state of play" from IHR's viewpoint (as of October 1992): http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v14/v14n1p25_Okeefe.html. Readers may want to run the search engine at IHR to find other commentary. Whether or not IHR was wise to expose itself as it did to Mr. Mermelstein and his lawyers, it is disconcerting to see a libertarian, of all people, implying that the courts of the regime are credible arbiters of historical truth. But perhaps once again I infer paranoiacally.


As for our publication of her first letter, I am taken aback that Miss McKinstry is taken aback. I did not personally approach Miss McKinstry, who is after all a stranger to me, to wheedle money out of her; consequently I found her letter far from an act of courtesy, and gratuitous in the bargain. Does she dispatch such e-mails to all soi-disant libertarian sites with whose positions (or links!) she differs in some fatal way?

Moreover, the letter in question, which deals with substantive matters, or at least matters that Miss McKinstry deems substantive, certainly reads like a letter to the editor. If this is still not clear to all and sundry, please listen up: When one sends an unsolicited letter to an opinion forum containing adverse opinion relating to that forum's content, as well as to its editor's judgment — whether such criticism is accurate or inaccurate, just or unjust — there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Does it really bother Miss McKinstry that I posted her criticism of TLD for all to see? Or does the bothersome part lie in the fact that Mr. Fields and I exercised our right of reply?

It is true that I often reply via e-mail to senders of LTEs informing them of my intention to post or not to post their letter. I decided that Miss McKinstry had forfeited that courtesy when I learned that she was going out of her way, in another forum, to discourage others from supporting TLD. Doing so was her right; and doing what I did was mine.


Such disputations, where feelings run high and hot on both sides, have a way of escalating. And an accusation of dishonorable behavior, such as has now been made, may escalate matters far beyond the reach of cool reason. It is a deadly charge.

I am going to pretend it was never made. While I continue, of course, to insist that Miss McKinstry is mistaken about the questions in dispute, I do not wish to make her a sworn enemy. Neither do I wish that she should consider me an enemy; nor that she should come to regard The Last Ditch as enemy territory.

If I understand Miss McKinstry correctly, and unparanoiacally, our current exchange has only confirmed her already low opinion of the work we have done over the past six years — dealing with imperialism and war, the ruling class, the collapse of our culture, and the rising tyranny — in articles both written for the site and posted from the previous print version of TLD. However, if she continues to be interested in analysis of the anarchist variety, her present view of "the quality of TLD" may be due for some revision when, in a little while, we post the late Roy Childs's hitherto-unpublished "Epistemological Basis of Anarchism," and finally make it the classic it was always destined to be. ["EBoA" was posted July 3, 2003.]

September 5, 2002

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