When Student Publications Go Too Far: Belittling the Holocaust

Recently, the inaugural edition of the Syms student-run paper The Associate was distributed around campus. As a Syms student, I was overjoyed to see that the Business school’s newspaper had a beautiful layout and interesting and insightful articles. That was, until I saw an article under the “Students Speak” section titled, “When Student Publications Go Too Far, The Quipster: Libelous Propaganda.” The article lambasts The Quipster for poking fun at certain perceived, not yet rectified failings of the Syms School of Business. But hypocritically, the article itself is filled with baseless lies and twisted mistruths.

But this is not the most shocking aspect of this article. The author asks: “Where does this deleterious mindset come from?” He suggests a state of mind: “Constant exposure to negativity and mockery has far reaching pernicious results. The idea was originally Adolf Hitler’s – that if you repeat something (in his case a lie) frequently enough, people will end up believing it. Sounds familiar?”

Actually, it does. To get your facts straight, the Nazi that said something similar was not Hitler, but Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, when he said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Hitler’s theory was the “Big Lie” theory. He coined the phrase in his infamous book “Mein Kampf” about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler asserted the technique was used by Jews. (gutenberg.net)

But it isn’t the poor research and the outright lies that make this article repulsive. What paints this article truly as an abomination is the comparison of a satirical online publication—however right or wrong it may be—to the propaganda used by Goebbels to prepare the German people for aggressive warfare, and eventually the “Final Solution” of the Jewish people.

Author and Attorney Mike Godwin argues that the “. .  . overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact” (Cyber Rights 1998).

To in any way compare any aspect of the horrors of the Holocaust to a matter as trivial as a satirical publication is to disgrace the memory of the six million Jews that died at the hands of Nazi atrocities. As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, I was dismayed that a fellow Jew would join the ranks of those that belittle the severity of the Holocaust.

The Student Holocaust Education Movement, which was founded by fellow YU student, Simon Goldberg, has a mission to “provide young people the tools to become defenders of Holocaust memory.” Every year, they take students to the Holocaust Museum in DC. I suggest the author joins them this year, and goes to see a specific exhibit: State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.

It’s a shame that The Associate allowed this to truly tarnish what could have been a great kickoff to the re-branding of the Syms image. It’s morbidly ironic that the Syms paper that published this article which disgraced the school was distributed on November 16th, just one day before the 2nd Yartziet of the namesake of our Business school, Sy Syms himself.

The self-titled “Student Leader” says, “I can think of much better ways of destroying a school’s name and reputation without a publication written by its own students.”

To the cowardly “Anonymous” author: apparently you can’t.

Godwin, Mike. Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age.: Times Books, 1998.