Thursday, January 17, 2019

A quick dive into Chuck Johnson's comments on the Holocaust

On January 16, 2019, the Daily Beast published an article titled: "GOP Congressmen Meet With Holocaust-Denying Troll Chuck Johnson."  The article says:
Johnson, a former Breitbart reporter, has denied the magnitude of the Holocaust, expressing doubt that gas chambers were real and questioning whether six million Jews were really killed—a figure that has been well-documented by scholars and historians.
This was the first time that I'd ever heard Chuck Johnson was a Holocaust denier, so I wanted to follow the sourcing and see his original comments.  The Daily Beast article links to a Mother Jones article from September 13, 2018, titled: "Two Republican Congressmen Hobnob With an Alleged Holocaust Denier. Again."  The article says:
During an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit’s alt-right section, Johnson had been queried, “what are your thoughts on the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ in general?” (“JQ” is neo-Nazi shorthand for the Jewish Question.) Johnson replied, “I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware [sic] crime. I agree…about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real.”
At this point, I was still looking for the original source of the comments.

The Mother Jones article links to a post on Little Green Footballs from January 27, 2017, titled: "Chuck C. Johnson Says He’s Advising the Trump Administration on Nominees - and He’s a Holocaust Denier."  The post says:
The reason why I’m writing about this loathsome character again: yesterday he did an “Ask Me Anything” in Reddit’s “altright” (read: neo-Nazi) section — and came all the way out as a Holocaust denier. Here’s the exchange. (The term “JQ” is a neo-Nazi abbreviation for “Jewish Question.”)
justacolyte:
what are your thoughts on the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ in general?
ChuckCJohnson:
I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. I read the German War (highly recommend), Bloodlands, Mein Kampf, and all of David Irving. I’m more or less of the view that the war was an outgrowth of the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world. I also believe that the fears of German extermination were not misplaced, especially in light of the Ukrainian famine. But I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept. I’m pro-ethno state, generally. I understand why and how Hitler rose to power but think too much of our focus on World War II is spent trying to understand Hitler and not enough is spent trying to understand Weimar. Mecius Moldbug, aka Curtis Yarvin, is right. America is a communist country.
The words "Here's the exchange" link to an AMA that Johnson held on the /r/AltRight subreddit on January 27, 2017.  However, Reddit has banned the /r/AltRight subreddit, and so when you click the link you see this message:



Fortunately, somebody saved the AMA using Archive.is.  Here's the specific Archive.is link for Chuck Johnson's "250,000" comment:  http://archive.is/Rrawk.  And here's the Archive.is link for the whole AMA:  http://archive.is/y9zKy.

What's interesting is that you can see Chuck Johnson went back and edited his comment.  Based on the timestamps, it would appear Chuck Johnson edited his comment several hours after the Little Green Footballs post was published.  Here is what the edited comment says:
ChuckCJohnson[S] 29 points 19 hours ago*  
I do not and never have believed the six million figure which I think is still up for some historical debate. There were a number of sources that disputed the six million figure and I find myself in that camp reluctantly. Of course you can't really discuss any of this stuff without being called a Holocaust denier which I am not. I think Jews were killed in the war, particularly in the Eastern occupied provinces. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic but I confess to having complicated views on the subject. I think the Allied bombings of Germany were a war crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. Why were their swimming pools there if it was a death camp? I support decriminalizing Holocaust inquiry. I read the German War (highly recommend), Bloodlands, Mein Kampf, and all of David Irving. I'm more or less of the view that the war was an outgrowth of the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world. I also believe that the fears of German extermination were not misplaced, especially in light of the Ukrainian famine. But I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept. I'm pro-ethno state, generally. I understand why and how Hitler rose to power but think too much of our focus on World War II is spent trying to understand Hitler and not enough is spent trying to understand Weimar. Mecius Moldbug, aka Curtis Yarvin, is right. America is a communist country.
So Chuck Johnson went back and made sure to emphasize that he was not, in fact, a Holocaust denier. 

This wasn't the last time Chuck Johnson would deny being a Holcaust denier.  In a post on GotNews, dated February 4, 2018, Johnson addressed the comments he'd made during the AMA:
Some of my friends are rightly asking me what I was doing when I posted on Reddit last year some comments that could fairly be characterized as Holocaust denial. A now archived and deleted post does reflect statements I made, but it does not reflect my views on the Holocaust. I am not now nor have I ever been a Holocaust denier.
I unambiguously believe the Holocaust happened, that 6 million Jews died, that some of those Jews who died in labor camps, gas chambers, ovens, and in all manner of dehumanizing ways.
Johnson also explained that his comments about the Holocaust were done for the sake of trolling:
So why did I post these remarks? What could I possibly have been after? 
Over the last few years, I have financed a project studying the various tech companies and their commitments to free speech against fake hate speech. I began this process several years ago when I joined a group of like-minded individuals committed to getting Ellen Pao fired from Reddit over her reluctance to embrace free speech. In that instance as in this one anti-Semitic language trended to the top of Reddit and led ultimately to her firing. This is how trolling works. 
That paragraph is awfully confusing.  The first time I read it, I thought Chuck Johnson was saying he made his Holocaust comments in order to get Ellen Pao fired.  Of course, that wouldn't make sense, because Ellen Pao resigned from Reddit back in 2015, long before the AMA took place.  All I can deduce is that Johnson was (supposedly) testing Reddit's commitment to free speech.    

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