Thursday, March 23, 1995

IS TRUSTEE STEVEN FROGUE A HOLOCAUST DENIER?

Irvine Valley College once had a student newspaper. It died an ignominious death, but that’s a story for another day.

Early in 1995, the IVC Voice interviewed Trustee Frogue. In it, reference is made to his being pulled from the classroom at Foothill High, where he taught history. Frogue praises the institute For Historical Review, a notorious Holocaust denial organization.

Not long after, the Orange County Register reported that some of Frogue’s students at Foothill High were accusing him of Holocaust denial. See “Teacher's view of Holocaust stirs furor,” 4/4/95 by Dan Froomkin.

The IVC Voice did some fine reporting about Frogue. What follows is some of that reporting plus a letter to the editor by the ADL's Joyce Greenspan and a guest column by IVC Philosophy Professor Roy Bauer.

[LATER, FROGUE EXACERBATED THE SITUATION CONSIDERABLY BY MAKING SOME CURIOUS REMARKS TO AN L.A. TIMES REPORTER. SEE:

Studying the Lessons of Steven J. Frogue, 11/25/96
• Profile: The teacher and Saddleback trustee does not retreat from controversy that his views generate.
By MICHAEL GRANBERRY
TIMES STAFF WRITER



Excerpt from "A conversation with Steven Frogue" (Ked Francis)
The VOICE, 3/23/95

THE VOICE: Are there lines you shouldn't cross in open debate? For example, should there be open debate with groups who claim the holocaust didn't occur?

FROGUE: There is a group, right here in Orange County, called the Institute for Historical Review...they have raised questions about some of this stuff. I've looked at some of their publications, kind of strange and definitely new, I've never seen anything like it before. There's somebody that wants to engage in the debate about the Holocaust. In 1984 their headquarters in Torrance was burned to the ground. Maybe that guy was back from his CIA stint. The guy who killed Alex Odeh, I don't know. It was not terribly long after that the FBI reported most of the terrorist actions in the United States in that previous year had been by pro-Israeli groups...Whatever their opinion about the Holocaust, if it's garbage, expose it to the light of day, why bomb their headquarters and burn all their information and research? Then I say, "Wait a minute," is it maybe they have uncovered some stuff that the public should know? Should they be able to enter the debate?

THE VOICE: Why are you no longer teaching?

FROGUE: I don't know. They reassigned me without consulting me or my department chairman. It makes no sense for me to spend all day supervising students...while my fellow teachers in my department are teaching 48 student classes.

THE VOICE: Are you being disciplined?

FROGUE: If it was anything like that, it was not brought to my attention. The only reason I was given was that I would do a good job here. I think it's a waste of taxpayer money. It could be run by campus supervisors...and here you have detention run by the best historian, the best history teacher in the school, maybe in the district, who knows, maybe even in the country. I think I'm good, judge for yourself. It just doesn't make sense.


Trustee denies holocaust, according to former students (the Voice, 4/20/95)

By Ked Francis
Staff Writer

Despite repeated denials by Trustee Steven Frogue, former students of the trustee claim in an April 4 Orange County Register report that he teaches a revisionist version of the Holocaust and claims the killing of 6 million Jews did not occur.

According to Foothill High School student Emily Hoffman, Frogue "decided the Holocaust was made up." Frogue told his World Cultures class "the Jews made it up to make people feel sorry for them," according to Hoffman, who was quoted in the Register. "He said it was more like sixty people that got killed, rather than 6 million."

Other high school students of Frogue's say he used racially derogatory terms in class, referring to Asians as "yellow people," Latinos as "brown people" and African Americans as "negras."

Frogue denies the students' claims. "I don't even know most of the kids quoted in the article," Frogue said. "The Register reporter was inaccurate in everything he wrote, from my hometown to the spelling of students' names."

Frogue admitted using racially sensitive terms, but claims they were to show the racist attitudes of others. "I use the term 'negra' to explain southern racist views during the civil rights movement. I quoted a World War II sermon that used the phrase 'yellow belly japs'' to show racist attitudes in wartime," Frogue said.

Questions regarding Frogue's views on the Holocaust first arose when he harshly criticized the Anti-Defamation League and questioned its role in an IVC course on the Holocaust. At a January 23 Saddleback Community College District Board of Trustee meeting Frogue alleged that the ADL has conducted a "massive espionage apparatus against thousands of law abiding American citizens."

Frogue continued his assault on the ADL at the Feb. 27 board meeting, but was challenged by Trustee Harriet Walther, who all but called Frogue a Holocaust denier.

In a March 23 follow-up interview with The Voice, Frogue suggested that a notorious Holocaust denial group, the Institute for Historical Review, should be allowed to "enter the debate" regarding the Holocaust, while labeling claims he denied the Holocaust as "an obscenity."

Finally, in the Register article Frogue questions whether 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, drawing distinctions between "people who were actually killed, . . . people who actually died, . . . [and] people who were actually put in the gas chambers."

Frogue's views echo those of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which claims in its publications that "there was no German program to exterminate Europe's Jews, that numerous claims of mass killings in 'gas chambers' are false, and that the estimate of six million Jewish wartime dead is an irresponsible exaggeration."

Richard Prystowsky, the IVC professor whose course on the Holocaust drew Frogue's attention in January, said he is concerned about Frogue's comments that the IHR should enter "the debate" regarding the Holocaust.

"What debate? There is no legitimate debate on the phenomenological reality of the final solution," [said] Prystowsky. "There simply is not."

As for Frogue, he still expects to resume teaching at Foothill High School next fall, and continues to deny making the statements his students say he did. "But there are too many questions about the Holocaust for it to be judged a certainty in all aspects," Frogue said.

Frogue called the controversy over the Register article "a bit of a nightmare, and all for telling the truth."

Mel Mermelstein, a Holocaust survivor from Huntington Beach, suggested a simple solution to the Frogue controversy: "Let the people who elected him take care of the problem."


LETTER to the VOICE, 4/20/95

ADL asserts Frogue made 'false and malicious statements'

Dear Editor,

Steven Frogue, a trustee of the Saddleback Community College District, has made false and malicious statements about the Anti-Defamation League and others. While we will not respond specifically to his outrageous charges, we want to present an accurate picture of the ADL.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded over 80 years ago to "secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination and ridicule against any sect or body of citizens." Throughout its history, the ADL has been in the forefront of efforts to protect minority groups and secure constitutional guarantees of free speech, equality and freedom of religion.

The ADL's model hate crimes legislation has been enacted at the state and federal levels. These laws, and the ADL's training program is combating hate crimes, helping law enforcement officials respond to violence against minority individuals. The ADL's support for the federal Religious Freedom Restoration ACT was instrumental in guaranteeing free exercise rights for all individuals.

The ADL also monitors anti-Semitic, racist and extremist groups and exposes their bigotry to the light of public scrutiny. Publications on such issues as neo-Nazi Skinheads, terrorism and private militias, have served to educate the Jewish community, law enforcement officials, educators, public officials and the larger American public. The ADL's report, "Embattled Bigots: A Split in the Ranks of the Holocaust Denial Movement," serves as an analysis update on developments regarding the leading Holocaust deniers in this country, including the Institute for Historical Review.

These reports are not published to silence those whose views differ from the ADL, as some critics have asserted. The ADL believes that the extremist ideology of bigots is best countered by an educated society. Therefore, our reports detail the racism, the anti-Semitism, the terrorist goals, and the denial of the Holocaust. In addition, the reports are an exercise of the ADL's own First Amendment rights to present information to the public and to voice the ADL's views and opinions. The ADL publications are recognized by public officials, the media, law enforcement and others as credible and informative.

Steven Frogue has voiced fabricated allegations about the ADL, irresponsibly implicated individuals in criminal activities without a shred of evidence and attempted to silence his adversaries by intimidation and smear tactics. The ADL's view of the First Amendment is that it protects Mr. Frogue's right to speak; apparently he would not extend the same protection to the ADL.

Sincerely,,
Joyce Greenspan, ADL Regional Director
Orange County/Long Beach Office



Trustee Steven Frogue and the Institute for Historical Review (5/11/95)

by Roy Bauer

Steven Frogue, a member of the Saddleback Community College Board of Trustees and a Foothill High School history instructor, recently expressed interest in the publications of the foremost Holocaust denial organization in the U.S.: the Institute for Historical Review. In an interview with The Voice, Frogue says:

"There is a group, right here in Orange County, called the Institute for Historical Review...[T]hey have raised questions about [the Holocaust]. I've looked at some of their publications, kind of strange and definitely new, I've never seen anything like it before. There's somebody that wants to engage in the debate about the Holocaust."

Frogue goes on to suggest that the IHR's headquarters were bombed and its research burned by enemies of the organization. This alleged fact leads Frogue to wonder if the IHR is onto something:

"Then I say, 'wait a minute,' is it maybe they have uncovered some stuff that the public should know?"

Oddly it does not occur to Frogue that the IHR bombing can be explained in ways that do not assume that the bombers sought to suppress truths. (Mightn't they have sought to suppress lies?) Contrary to Mr. Frogue, the fact (if it is a fact) that the IHR was bombed by some of its enemies does not provide a reason to respect IHR "evidence."

Do we have any reason to believe that the IHR has good evidence for its revisionist themes? Do we have any reason to take the IHR seriously? The organization's central idea is the denial of what is now understood as the Holocaust. Though the IHR asserts that it does not deny the Holocaust, in truth, it promulgates works that in essence do exactly that. Further, it has adopted Austin J. App's "incontrovertible assertions," including the thesis that the Third Reich's plan for solving the "Jewish problem" was emigration, not annihilation.

The first thing to note, then, is that the IHR denies what common sense affirms. Insofar as it does so, it is in about the same intellectual league as the Flat Earth Society. That the Holocaust revisionists promoted by the IHR suffer from serious lapses in thinking is indicated in other ways as well. For instance, revisionists are oblivious to the difficulties that attend grand conspiracy theories of the sort they embrace. No one doubts that, in the course of human history, secret plots have occasionally been carried out; but it is implausible to assert, as Holocaust revisionists do, that thousands of unerring and loyal conspirators have managed perfectly to execute a series of massive scams on the world. Such assertions defy reason.

The common sense deficit in revisionist "research" is often matched by an honesty deficit. For instance, the editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review, Mark Weber, has written a leaflet for the IHR called "Auschwitz: Myths and Facts." In it, he writes that "America's leading gas chamber expert, Boston engineer Fred A. Leuchter, carefully examined [Auschwitz'] supposed 'gas chambers' in Poland and concluded that the Auschwitz gassing story is absurd and technically impossible."

Sounds impressive. But, as Deborah Lipstadt reveals in her book Denying the Holocaust, Fred Leuchter, Weber's "expert," is not an engineer and has no education in engineering; indeed, he has been compelled by his home state of Massachusetts to refrain from presenting himself as an engineer. Further, Lipstadt can find no evidence that Leuchter has ever build a gas chamber. How, then, can it be that Leuchter is "the foremost specialist on the design and installation of gas chambers used in the United States to execute convicted criminals," as Weber claims? That the editor of the IHR's journal is willing in this way to play with the facts (or, alternatively, is capable of overlooking such important facts) rightly causes us to doubt the reliability of the IHR.

So, too, do the efforts of the IHR's founder—Willis Carto—to disguise the organization's relationship with other organizations. The IHR insists that it is an independent entity dedicated only to uncovering the truth about history. Yet, in 1988, the United States Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by the IHR and various plainly racist and anti-Semitic entities to present themselves as unrelated. What many of these organizations have in common is the involvement of Willis Carto, who has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist activities, including the promotion of a scheme in the mid-fifties to return all blacks to Africa. Such backgrounds are typical among the central characters of the IHR saga.

Can we rely on the likes of Willis Carto and Mark Weber to support honest and objective historical research? Surely we cannot. We reasonably suspect that at least some of the historical "investigations" that they sponsor or author are liable to be committed more to a hidden political agenda than to objectivity and truth. That suspicion combined with the evident dishonesty or incompetence of much revisionist "research" and the patent implausibility of revisionist conspiracy theories force this conclusion upon us: that we err when we fail to discriminate between the IHR and reliable research organizations.

This, of course, is precisely the error that Mr. Frogue commits. That Frogue, a member of a college board of trustees, does not perceive his error is disturbing.

Bauer is a philosophy instructor and the Humanities Department Chair

1 comment:

  1. ah yes, my early work!

    Great synopsis, Lisa!

    Kedric

    ReplyDelete

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