The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

Is There No Dissent?

One would think, even hope, that Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Julie Stoiber, in writing “Author Challenges Views of Holocaust,” an article purportedly about Philadelphia’s annual, and admirable, Holocaust Remembrance Day, would undertake an endeavor more noble than promoting the dubious endorsement of the controversial work of the controversial associate professor of history at Harvard College going by the name of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.

Alas, no.

Instead, Stoiber joins Goldhagen’s local audience in superficially celebrating his work, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, a book published seven years ago, and one since then, as any idiot, including any newspaper reporter or editor, knows, or should know, has been subject to considerable negative scrutiny and criticism from dozens of Goldhagen’s fellow historians.

It’s a book I’ve read, but one I doubt either Stoiber or the majority of the attendees at the Remembrance Day events even have skimmed or worked their way past page, oh, 60 or so.

One would assume, reading Stoiber’s piece, that Goldhagen’s book has had no critics.

This is not so, even excluding the crazy Holocaust deniers.

But I’ll give credit where credit is due: Goldhagen cuts a fine figure in a photo. The thoughtful little wire-framed glasses are a nice touch. (Sorry, the Inquirer rarely reproduces its photographs at its web site.) Great stuff for the speakers’ circuit. Good photo. Nice shot in the Inquirer, Jonah.

Nonetheless, Goldhagen continues to face hundreds of unanswered questions about his scholarship and methodology.

But that’s not my problem.

That problem belongs to Goldhagen himself and to those who fawned over -- and continue to bow to -- his screeching polemic, those who showered upon Goldhagen leis of praise not unlike those bestowed upon the completely discredited Joan Peters for her unabashedly dishonest book From Time Immemorial.

“Part and parcel,” as they say.

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