Letters to the Editor

Butz debate a waste of time

Without defending McCormick Prof. Arthur Butz’s views, many Northwestern affiliates, from University President Henry Bienen to Tuesday columnist Henry M. Bowles III, have defended Butz’s right to espouse his views in the name of intellectual freedom. This is admirable. But in a world of finite resources such as time, money and intellectual curiosity, someone must take responsibility for prioritizing just which debates are worth engaging.

When The Daily ran Butz’s guest column, full of verified inaccuracies and exaggerations, it wasted financial and promotional resources that could have been spent on, say, calls for student activism on the Darfur crisis. There are enough real academic issues and debates to explore that to listen to an engineering professor’s delusional questioning of the Holocaust’s existence would be like attending a lecture on “Where do babies come from?” given by a stork.

Butz’s “views” don’t need to be silenced. But as a university, NU needn’t waste valuable resources engaging them.

– Adam Riff,

Weinberg senior

Learn how to tolerate Butz

The venomous response to McCormick Prof. Arthur Butz’s article only proves his point that “freedom” is a Western buzz word.

Although I do not agree with his theories, it’s funny how quickly people attack newspapers and other media when they do not agree with a “radical thought” that made it to print. The New York Times doesn’t print false articles and theories? Check your sources.

The issue here is freedom of speech. During my stint at Northwestern, what people outside of Medill simply can’t comprehend is this: You must be able to tolerate the most abhorrent, vile, disgusting, dangerous rhetoric out there. You must toughen you skin, and in some cases, laugh off certain claims as mere lunacy. Only then do you deserve the right to say what you want. You have tolerated the extreme and you have honored the right for others to let their voices be heard. Now let yours be as well.

If anything, don’t scream about the newspaper’s role. Use the opposing message as an opportunity to shape others’ opinions. Counter with your own evidence, thereby creating an open forum.

I choose to specifically address Dan Birnbaum’s statement that Butz’s argument hurts the “feelings of individuals whose lives have been impacted by the horrors of the Holocaust.” Indeed they may.

But what about those people who draw sacred prophets? Those who claim Jesus did not exist? Those who deny Hurricane Katrina did not show racial problems still exist? Many people’s feelings are hurt on a daily basis. But if you spend your life “getting hurt” by others’ words, you will find that your life will always be “painful.” Cynics always exist. That is the plain truth of the world.

The Daily had the right to print this article, and they knew it would draw responses. Presenting both sides is responsible journalism.

– Garrett Baldwin,

Medill ’04

Editors should be ashamed

I lost many relatives in the Holocaust. I have no basis to argue with anyone so bigoted or ignorant as to deny the Holocaust. So let me put a simple question to the editors: slavery is also documented. Would you give space to a bigot who denies slavery existed?

Opening your columns to McCormick Prof. Arthur Butz shows the insidiousness of sanctimonious political correctness. The editors should study what occurred in Europe; there are many historians on campus who can cure your ignorance. Are you proud of the cesspool of bigotry which you opened, as evidenced in some of the appalling feedback?

– Joel Sprayregen,

Medill ’55

Former Daily campus editor