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My lesson in free speech: As a Jew, meeting with Holocaust deniers actually left me feeling empowered

By Mark Oppenheimer
LA Times
– In 2009, I interviewed Mark Weber and Bradley Smith, two amateur historians notorious for being among the leading Holocaust “revisionists.” Smith is an old-school denier, dubious about the existence of gas chambers, while Weber merely believes that Jews exaggerate history to help consolidate Zionist power.

I interviewed Weber in his offices outside Los Angeles, and Smith at a coffee shop close to the border of Mexico, where he lived. In each case I went alone. Although I wasn’t afraid — neither had a history of physical violence — meeting with two men who’d spent their professional lives spinning theories about the perfidy of my people was, at the least, a bit creepy. Let’s put it this way: I hugged my wife extra tight before leaving home.

Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about my time with Smith and Weber, and not just because white nationalists now have a president who they feel is sympathetic to their cause. Rather, the triggering event, if you will, is the national debate about how to confront speech we find odious.

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