Libertarians played politics with the Holocaust – and they’re still doing it

Mark Ames pulled a hell of a skeleton out of the Libertarian closet last week – but the real spectacle is the mob of partisans trying to shut it back in.

“I’m waiting for Mark Ames to get his teeth kicked in,” one critic commented on Libertarian flagship publication Reason’s website.

That’s how Libertarians are responding to an explosive article published Thursday by Ames on, which uncovered a 1974 issue of Reason filled with notorious Holocaust deniers doing what they do best: denying the Holocaust.

That revelation is damning evidence of what historian Andrew Seal describes as the “intertwined history of libertarian WWII revisionism and Holocaust denial”. And that history, Libertarians are demonstrating, is still with them today.

Damning evidence

One can take whatever one likes from Ames’ article, but the substantive allegation is undeniable: Reason, in 1974, published multiple instances of Holocaust denial by notorious Holocaust deniers.

For instance, one passage refers to “the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler” and concludes that the first English language book to deny the Holocaust, David Hoggan’s The Myth of Six Million, “presented a solid case against the Establishment’s favorite horror story – the supposed moral justification of our entry into the War.”

The issue also featured the third of three consecutive articles by Holocaust denier James J. Martin – following up on his claim in the second issue that “I don’t believe that the evidence of a planned extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe is holding up.”

There’s more where that came from – Mark Ames recounts it at length, and Pando includes a copy of the entire issue in its coverage.

Arguments of convenience

To the extent that Libertarians are willing to acknowledge the problem at all, they have predictably relegated it to the past.

Editor Elizabeth Brown, for example, tweeted Saturday, “I think Reason ran some stupid shit in its day, as have many longstanding political pubs. Not a reflection of us now.”

Editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie: “Much of the material from the issue doesn’t hold up, which is hardly surprising for a magazine issue published almost 40 years ago.”

But have Libertarians really moved past their Holocaust problem? Obviously, explicit denial has become untenable in the modern era. But return to the point Ames makes:

“There is a politics to all of this, a politics that’s barely budged…The goal is to discredit the New Deal and FDR, which can’t be done effectively without discrediting FDR’s most popular cause, the victory over fascist Germany and Japan.”

The Libertarian Holocaust problem has always been something even more sinister than simple denial: it’s the disregard of six million lives for the sake of political expedience. Libertarians don’t have Hitler’s agenda in mind, but they aren’t about to let truth-telling about the Holocaust get in the way of their political agenda.

That’s why Gillespie decries the Ames article as “ideological mudslinging” against “libertarianism” though he doesn’t get around to actually disputing it. That’s why guys like William Gillis “joke” that “Mark Ames’ crusade against libertarians started when a sex worker refused to sleep with him”. That’s why DC Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors dismisses his article as “leftist smear merchantry”.

What all of these attacks have in common: political angst. Libertarians aren’t worried about the truth of what Mark Ames said – they’re worried about what the truth might do to their agenda.

That kind of cynicism may seem common enough, but it has a dark history. Fantasies about a critic getting his teeth kicked in are just the start.

4 thoughts on “Libertarians played politics with the Holocaust – and they’re still doing it

  • July 29, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Second question: I see no way out of this problem, regardless of what Libertarians really believe. If we say it was a flawed article from the past, we are told we have something to hide. If we say it has nothing to do with the Libertarian platform, we are told we are in denial. So I ask the Baltimore Post-Examiner, what would it take to convince you that the Libertarian Party does not agree with Holocaust denial?

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      If you say that it was a flawed issue from the past, I’ll agree with you. That is, after all, the very premise of this article. Nothing here suggests I’d do otherwise.

  • July 29, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Let me see if I’m following this argument correctly. Some libertarians were associated with Holocaust denial 40 years ago, so nothing any libertarian has to say has ever been correct. Am I close?

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      Incorrect. Libertarians are typically wrong for reasons that have little to do with the problem addressed in this article.

      There is no phrase in this article even remotely resembling “nothing any libertarians has to say has ever been correct”. That observation alone puts to rest your criticism. If you would like to address what I’ve actually say please proceed.

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