It should be stated right off the bat that John "Dr Dawg" Baglow is not a complete idiot.
In fact, Canada's progressive blogosphere seems to view him as their best and brightest. And while they delight in keeping company with people who delight in calling other people stupid, it's amazing the kind of idiocy that their "best and brightest" can produce.
This particular tale begins with a stray dimwit on Blazing Cat Fur claiming that "there was no extermination in Germany".
Referring, of course, to the Holocaust.
Enter Jay Currie drawing attention to that particular comment in a blog post about the censorious nature of many Canadian academics. At which point Baglow utters this mind-numbingly stupid remark:
There is no possible way he could have even possibly been more wrong.
Numerous commenters attempt to bring various points to Baglow's attention: that the planning of the Holocaust took place on German soil, and that killings took place at the concentration camp at Dachau.
Points to which Baglow responds in incredibly obtuse fashion:
a page from the Nizkor project disputing that the gas champers at Dachau were ever used for any killings.
Another commenter points out that camps like Auschwitz were within the borders of Germany as defined after the annexation of Austria. Mark Bourrie points out that his wife's granfather was killed at a Sachenhausen satellite camp.
Natasha from Moose and Squirrel provides a better source on the Dachau camp, one that notes that enough prisoners were killed at Dachau that the Nazis had to draw up special protocols for body disposal.
It also notes the work of Dr Sigmund Rascher, who conducted medical experiments at Dachau that are well-known to have been fatal to the subjects.
Yet another commenter points out that the gas chambers at Dachau had actually been used, and also notes that Baglow's thesis would also have to omit the thousands of Jews who died on the famed "death marches" of concentration camp prisoners to camps in central Germany.
(Daniel Goldhagen's landmark work on the Holocaust, Hitler's Willing Executioners, also notes that these were not, by any means, direct routes. Rather they were winding routes, planned to pass through as many German towns and villages as possible, so the German populace could see these Jews on their death marches.)
But the greatest problem for Baglow may come from his very own Nizkor source:
(Evidently sharing Baglow's hostility to Israel should do nothing to mitigate that.)
One should wonder precisely how it is that someone who is otherwise as intelligent as John Baglow could be so utterly and inexcusably remiss.
It doesn't take a top Holocaust historian to point out the number of ways in which Baglow is wrong. And yet Baglow somehow felt a need to take a stand on an historical error that anyone with a lick of sense had to know that they couldn't defend.
Unless one considers the tendency of many of Baglow's cohorts to argue in a manner along the lines of Stephen Colbert's famed concept of truthiness.
As Colbert has so often described it, truthiness encapsulates an inherently selfish intellectual methodology in which one is not only entitled to their own opinions, but also entitled to their own facts.
When one is entitled to their own facts, one is entitled to their own history -- one divorced from any inconvenient facts. One in which the Soviet Union did not oppress religion adhering to a communist doctrine that held that atheism and communism were inseparable. One in which National Socialism is divorced from the socialism. One in which the exterminations of the Holocaust took place entirely outside of German borders.
One that bears only a passing resemblence to actual history -- and sometimes not even that.
It makes clear the enterprise of groups such as the Progressive Historians -- a group intent on twisting history to their ideological designs. At least a few of them even seem to understand that the historical revisionism of tomorrow is best accomplished today.
Baglow and so many of his cohorts seem to take this particular concept of entitlement even further: they are entitled to their own reality. Things are as they say they are because they say they are. And no amount of evidence will be allowed to convince them otherwise.
The truth is that John Baglow is not really a Holocaust denier. Not in the same sense that Ernst Zundel is. But it's clear that Baglow is more than willing to deny some of the details of the Holocaust out of a historical ignorance that, from someone as otherwise intelligent as Baglow, can really only be wilful and self-assumed.
After all, Baglow is not a complete idiot. But in his urge to try to score points against the opposing ideological camp, he has argued something truly idiotic.
Those things happen. But until he's willing to admit the extent of his error, there's no reason why he should be simply courteously allowed off the hook.
John Baglow conducts himself without intellectual honesty or intellectual dignity. Thus, he receives no quarter. None.