Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, February 24, 2006
      ( 2/24/2006 08:29:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"YOUR NOSE IS LONGER THAN A TELEPHONE WIRE" – Received another hoax email from a friend the other day: in this case, it was the one purporting to contain a poem written by a terminally ill girl in New York ("Slow Dance"). A quick look at snopes.com revealed the story to be total b.s. But as I sent a return email with the Snopes link back to my friend, I found myself thinking that I pitied historians who attempted to use the Internet for research in the future. Even with tireless debunkers like the Snopesters on the job, it seems as if the lump sum of crap stories masquerading as inspirational or corrective writings is growing exponentially.

The other day my brother-in-law sent us a popular email claiming to quote a former member of the "secret service presidential detail" telling tales about the present and former President and First Lady – the prime focus of the piece was to trash Hilary Clinton, who all members of the detail reportedly "loathed." Leave aside the question of whether one feels comfortable about a former member of the secret service behaving like a gossiping old biddy, the base issue is: how true in this email, which Goggle tells me has also shown up on a number of conservative-leaning poli-blogs? At this point, the Snopes site labels their follow-up "incomplete," with a note indicating that research is still in progress, even though the original email first started circulating in mid-2005. There's only so much hogwash you can clean up in a day.

This thought also brings me to longtime Holocaust denier David Irving, recently jailed for three years in Austria. Acting as if Nazi Germany's attempt at enacting the Final Solution is a media-created myth is a tack long been used by post-WWII day Nazi sympathizers: back in the early 70's, I remember attending an on-campus presentation sponsored by the Illinois State U. Poli-Sci Department where members of the American Nazi Party then attempted to pooh-pooh the Holocaust. I had recently seen Alain Resnais' Night And Fog, a powerful documentary that was filmed at post-war Auschwitz and itself was considered controversial in the year of its release for bringing up memories of the Holocaust. (West German embassy officials attempted to keep it from being shown at Cannes.) Using newsreel footage and the implacable fact of the camp itself, Resnais' half-hour film elegantly rebutted the uniformed jackasses who were trying to convince me that the Holocaust is a hoax. Surely, I thought, these fools wouldn't be given any credence.

I was, of course, too young at the time to realize one of the lessons of time: that even the biggest of lies can take root if it's not consistently challenged – that, as the number of living eyewitnesses diminishes, it becomes easier for professional crackpots like Irving to pass their lies on mere "historical revisionism" (as defended by the ever-more-dubious Christopher Hitchens) and not agenda-laden dishonesty. I don't believe that the man deserved to be jailed for his writings, but a part of me would love to see him shut in a room for a day – with a small army of Nelson Muntzes constantly pointing their yellow fingers at him and going Haw-haw!

And after Irving, maybe we could do likewise to the guy responsible for the North Dakota snowstorm email . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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