He still teaches, students still squirm

Quietly teaching electrical engineering now, but still a Holocaust denier 

Students don’t have too many nice things to say about Arthur R. Butz. He is a professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University, and according to his students, he is boring, his handwriting is too small to make out on the board and he leaves all the real teaching to the teaching assistants. While their words about Butz are harsh, students tend to keep their silence when it comes to a darker part of his work, one that extends far outside the realm of electrical engineering. Butz is a prominent Holocaust denier, but many students walk into his classes without knowing it.

Butz graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1965. Over the next 10 years, Butz developed a name for himself in his field. In 1974 he received tenure from Northwestern as a professor of electrical engineering.

According to his faculty bio page on the Northwestern website, his areas of research include “digital signal processing” and “median and related filtering.” Student comments on Butz through an anonymous online professor review system operated by Northwestern were less than enthusiastic about his teaching style.

Arthur Butz is lame. He is a good teacher, but his lab lectures do not generally contribute to the lab itself. Also, he doesnt [sic] seem to like the labs himself,” read one comment.

Another comment seemed to allude to Butz’s extra-curricular activities. The comment read, “This guy is a Nazi and his class sucks. You’ll only learn from the [Teaching Assistant].”

In 1976, Butz published a book on a topic far outside his area of academic expertise in electrical engineering: “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against The Presumed Extermination of European Jewry.” The book went on to become influential in the Holocaust denial movement.

In his book, Butz argues that the Holocaust was a creation of Washington to help America’s post-war interests and that this is the key to understanding the truth.  “The conclusion is that Washington constructed a frame-up on the Jewish extermination charge,” Butz wrote.  “Once this is recognized, the true nature of German Jewish policy will be seen.”

According to his book, many investigators of the Holocaust did not analyze the evidence critically enough, leading to their acceptance of the “myth.” “Surely any thoughtful person must be skeptical,” Butz wrote.

Butz also used the book to condemn the creation of the State of Israel. “The ‘justification’ that Zionists invariably give for driving the Arabs out of Palestine always involves the six million legend to a great extent,” Butz wrote. “Palestine was not invaded by six million dead Jews or, indeed, by any dead Jews and, in any case, it is not just or reasonable to make the Arabs pay for whatever the Germans are supposed to have done to Jews in Europe during the Second World War.”

Over the years, Butz has made some noise, provoking many angry reactions. In 1991, Butz wrote an op-ed for The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper, rejecting the Holocaust. In 2005, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s assertion that the Holocaust was a myth, Butz issued a press release congratulating the Iranian head of state.

The Chicago Tribune quoted Butz as saying, “I congratulate him [Ahmadinejad] on becoming the first head of state to speak out clearly on these issues and regret only that it was not a Western head of state.”

Northwestern’s president at the time, Henry Bienen, responded with an email sent to all Northwestern students. He wrote, “While I hope everyone understands that Butz’s opinions are his own and in no way represent the views of the university or me personally, his reprehensible opinions on this issue are an embarrassment to Northwestern.”

60 members of Butz’s department at Northwestern signed a letter that read, according to a Daily Northwestern article, “Butz’s Holocaust denial is an affront to our humanity and our standards as scholars, and hence mandates our censure.”

The letter called for Butz to resign from the university, as it read, “We urge him to leave our Department and our University and stop trading on our reputation for academic excellence.”

Since then Butz has maintained his silence. He told New Voices via email that he is “not giving interviews.”

Students interviewed by New Voices were unanimous in saying that the he does not include his views in class. Several students said it was their understanding that Butz agreed never to discuss the issue following his comments about Ahmadinejad. However, some still find Butz’s extracurricular work hard to deal with.

“It makes me uncomfortable to know that he believes this,” said Sam Toizer, a Jewish sophomore from San Francisco. Toizer is in Butz’s Introduction to Electrical Engineering class, a required course for electrical engineering majors. “When I found out, I found it really hard to pay attention to what he was saying.”

Toizer said he discovered that Butz was a vocal Holocaust denier after he was already in the class, and decided to approach the professor about the topic. Toizer knocked on his office door and asked if he would be willing to discuss his views. Butz said that he would not discuss it and immediately shut the door.

Soon after, Toizer told his parents about Butz, and he said that they were “appalled,” but, that they did not want him to approach Butz about it until the quarter ended. 

Other students in the class occasionally discuss Butz’s activities, but feel that Butz is really “just an old guy teaching the lab,” as Matt Jaffe put it.

“Not many people are angry about it,” the sophomore said. “We just kind of make fun of him.”

Jaffe, like Toizer, was not aware that Butz was a Holocaust denier before signing up for the class. He found out from a member of his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, a national historically Jewish fraternity.

While Professor Butz has remained quiet lately, reactions to him in the past were strong.

Rabbi Michael Balinsky, the Hillel director at Northwestern from 1981-2000, said that when students came to him unsure about whether they should take Butz’s class, he   discouraged them.

Many campus groups tried to engage Butz in public debate or discussion, which Balinsky opposed.

“To give him a platform is to give him everything he wants,” said Balinsky, now the executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. “We thought it would be a terrible mistake.”

There have been many efforts to counteract Butz, such as a student petition in 2006 demanding Butz remain silent about his views after he congratulated Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

Perhaps the most dramatic result of opposing Butz’s views was Sheldon Epstein’s departure from Northwestern. Epstein served as an adjunct instructor for a course in Butz’s department. Even after Jerome B. Cohen, the dean of the engineering school, told him not to, Epstein included Holocaust studies in the curriculum of his electrical engineering course. Epstein’s contract was subsequently not renewed. According to a Daily Northwestern article from the time, Epstein believed his contract was not renewed because he using his class to oppose Butz.

Still today, Butz teaches a required introductory course, leaving electrical engineering students with few options.

Balinsky said that Northwestern “should get someone else” to teach the class.

Toizer said that Northwestern’s position is a difficult one, seeing as the current administration must deal with a professor who received his tenure so long ago.

 “I don’t think there’s really anything Northwestern can do, except, like, ask him to leave,” Toizer said.

One solution Toizer believed could be effective would be to tell students of Butz’s activities in advance. He says he wishes he knew before he signed up for the class, and is frustrated whenever he must listen to Butz in class.

Toizer, talking about what comes to mind when he thinks of Butz, said, “How can someone so educated be so ignorant about something?”

Gabi P. Remz is a freshman at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He spent the past year studying and doing national service in Israel. He is a New Voices Magazine national correspondent.

 

22 Older Responses to “He still teaches, students still squirm”

  1. F. Turner
    November 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    >>”Many campus groups tried to engage Butz in public debate or discussion, which Balinsky opposed.
    >>“To give him a platform is to give him everything he wants,” said Balinsky, now the executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. “We thought it would be a terrible mistake.”
    >>There have been many efforts to counteract Butz, such as a student petition in 2006 demanding Butz remain silent about his views”
    this article is troubling.. but the troubling part has nothing to do with the main topic- instead it is the part quoted above.
    Butz may well be 100% wrong, but no one will ever know since the effort is to silence a person, and contain his claims without any discussion. This is frankly indicative of something far more dangerous and malevolent than a person who holds a unpopular opinion.
    If Butz is in fact crazy or evil, let him be proven so by academic debate. Cries to silence him, get him fired, deny a full airing of both sides of whatever is being contested is NEVER the tactic of those who are right.
    I am not familiar with this mans writings or contention(s), nor do I intent to investigate them, but I suspect that he is probably attacking the assertions of 6 million jews murdered, as opposed to saying ‘no jews’ were murdered, and we are know that this is going to in fact be proven correct based on current research.
    We also know that most concentration camps were not ‘death’ camps, although some facilities were ‘death’ camps.
    This sort of information seems to be opposed out of fear that admitting anything is not accurate will be taken by some to disprove everything related to the Shoah.
    This is nonsense, and this sort of fear of debate or discussion of historical facts is far more disconcerting that Butz or anyone else who are merely freely discussing opinions that may be wrong.

  2. John McCoy
    December 1, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Butz is correct. There was no Nazi holocaust. It was an invention of the Jews to justify taking over Palestine and the mineral wealth in that area. Hitler was brought to power by Jewish bankers and Jewish/Anglo owned corporations supplied him with the weapons needed to fight the war. Read Anthony Sutton’s and Eustace Mullins works on this subject. The records from Auschwitz that were captured by the Soviets and later released show that fewer than 60,000 people died there and most died of typhus. There are no orders from Hitler that the Jews were to be killed. It’s all a hoax. I’d also suggest that people read Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry, the book Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, The Transfer Agreement, and books by Ralph Schoenman and Douglas Reed. Since students there are at a university, why don’t you start acting like independent scholars and do a little reading?

  3. Johannes W.
    December 1, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I´ts a great bok, isn´t it Mr Remz? Butz wrote it in the 70´s and it is still one of the best books on the topic. Wouldn´t you agree Mr Remz?
    Maybe you should try to argue against it and the very claims? Many have tried, but without success.
    There is no secret tha zionist organisations feared the death of 6 000 000 Jews long before WWI.
    There is no secret that Moses Hess is called a nationalist and socialist.
    There is no secret witnesses claimed to have senn people being murdered by electric bath, electric floors etc – something historians today “forgets”.
    What is the difference between the Holocaust survivors saying they saw thousands of people gassed in camps in Germany and the Holocaust survivors saying they saw thousands of people gassed in camps in Poland?
    They say exactly the same thing, but historians call the first ones liars but not the second ones.
    (No, I will not visit this page again, so I can´t read any response.)

  4. Bonnie
    December 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    Thank you for the article. Now I’m going to go on to read the book….and other authors of this ilk…to see what the fuss is about.

  5. Michael Santomauro
    December 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Let’s End Thought Crimes in the Twenty-first Century!
    I wish to express my outrage that the Holocaust, unlike any other historical event, is not subject to critical revisionist investigation. Furthermore I deplore the fact that many so-called democratic states have laws that criminalize public doubting of the Holocaust. It is my position that the veracity of Holocaust assertions should be determined in the marketplace of scholarly discourse and not in our legislatures bodies and courthouses.
    What sort of Truth is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?
    Peace.
    Michael Santomauro

  6. Ezra MacVie
    December 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Kids today (and forever into the future) don’t care or even know about the Holocaust, which is just as well, considering.
    What if I said far fewer electrical-engineering students are Jewish than journalism students? Would that be anti-semitic? Or anti-electrical-engineering?

  7. JHSibal
    December 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Dear Mr. Remz,
    I’m sure you would agree that an essential pillar of any successful society is toleration and free critique. There are many views which I’m sure we would both personally find distasteful and even repugnant, but still might do our best to support their airing: racial superiority, female inferiority and even perhaps, bestiality. To this list I might suggest that holocaust denial should be included.
    I cannot think of a better method to establish truth than to debate it rigorously.
    Personally, I find one reason why many outlandish views are now fashionable is that they have become taboo. Silence and whispering behind one’s back does not support a healthful society; and every scholar holding identical views does not support the advancement of knowledge of any kind.

  8. Latimer the Cat
    December 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Dr. Butts’ data is quite solid, and for the most part remains so unto this day. Simply belittling him with your status-quo Zionist pseudo-ridicule shows just how much you have learned indoctrination as-opposed-to objective verifiable data. Perhaps, when you grow-up, you’ll learn to look closely at foundational reference points that you now take on blind faith to be true and see where they end up.

  9. James Miller
    December 7, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    We are discussing your article on Stormfront. Here is the link if you’re interested:
    http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t850714/#post9796607
    James Miller
    Los Angeles, CA

  10. William Cadwalader
    December 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    The whole reason tenure was created was to protect academics from firing if they said anything that the powers that be didn’t like. This is called academic freedom! Academic freedom is something that Jews believe only Jews should have, not anybody else! What makes the Jewish Holocaust the only thing in history that can’t be questioned? Are Jews some higher anointed being that are so holy that they are above the rules that us mere mortals must abide by? Obviously in their own eyes they are? Jews such as Gabi P. Remz should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are and have always been the most hated people on the planet! It sure isn’t because they are ugly! Lots of people are as ugly as them and aren’t as hated. It must be something else! Think about it!

  11. Hypocrites
    December 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I see the author of this drivel is not biased in any way whatsoever.

  12. John
    December 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Dear Gabi,
    Why were you doing national service for a foreign country? That’s not very loyal to America is it? One might think your journalism will be biased in favour of Jews, despite living in a Gentile country.

  13. interesting
    December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    re: “Gabi P. Remz is a freshman at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He spent the past year studying and doing national service in Israel.”
    In other words, Gabi Remz is a traitor who served in the terrorist Zionist Occupation Forces.
    While Butz is obviously an idiot, Remz is no innocent.

  14. Paul
    December 14, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    Sorry, that should read “hit” piece.

  15. Jack Kent
    December 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    I congratulate Dr Butz for his courage in speaking the truth. The author of this article shows that he is really a fascist who cant tolerate a dissenting voice.
    The Holocaust Myth must be debunked once and for all.

  16. Edward Peterson, M.D.
    December 15, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I doubt that any of the critics of Dr. Butz have read his book, “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century.” Actually it is a well-documented, scholarly work that is quite persuasive. My suggestion is that those opposed to his opinion engage in open debate with him.

  17. ernest drone
    December 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Wow looks like no-one supports your suppression of dissenting opinion. Nice to see that years and years of propaganda and the millions of dollars spent disseminating it have failed to convince people of this atrocity. I hope more people read his work and come to their own conclusions. You really should examine your own hostility to dissent,Gabi, no one here supports it.You would have been at home in the Soviet propaganda ministry.

  18. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I think you are mixing things. The fact that Professor Butz is a denier of the hollowcost, has nothing to do with his ability to teach. Personal, insults such as those expressed by Toizer, are just lack of arguments and a futile attempt to deny Butz´freedom f thought and speech.

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