Bradley R. Smith may be the only Holocaust revisionist who writes about topics that have nothing to do with the Holocaust. And that’s good because while I know just enough about the Holocaust to hold my own in such conversations, I also am not invested in the topic enough to want to read books along the lines of what one expects from David Irving and Ernst Zündel. Admittedly, I haven’t read Smith’s book about his journey into Holocaust criticism, so perhaps then he concentrated exclusively on revisionism to the point of minutia, but I don’t think that’s the case. We’ll see when I read it.
Perhaps he has more to write about because Smith has led a far more interesting life than Irving or Zündel, once you remove the legal drama. But then again, Smith has had his own share of law troubles, and not the kind you might think. In 1962, Bradley R. Smith was convicted under California’s obscenity laws for selling a copy of Tropic of Cancer. In 1963, he appealed the verdict and the higher court sent the case back down to the lower courts in light of the California Supreme Court having determined Tropic of Cancer was not, in fact, obscene. Taking this anti-censorship stance bankrupted Smith. Regardless of how you feel about Holocaust revisionism, it’s impossible to deny that Smith is more than the one-topic obsessives who are often attracted to Holocaust studies because such topics feed their antisemitism and loathing for institutional intellectual authority. Smith has suffered financially and socially supporting freedom of speech – even speech liberals respect. He has gone on record as saying:
I do not believe in thought crimes, in taboos against intellectual freedom.
Perhaps that is what makes this book so odd – Bradley R. Smith is a living intersection of ideas that, on their surface, may seem mutually exclusive. But people and ideas are never wholly black or white. This played out vividly for me in terms of Smith’s personal politics because I generally have little patience for most libertarian ideas yet could see at times where Smith was coming from and could sympathize with his point of view. I think that was because Smith didn’t cloak himself in Randian-superiority. He mostly just wanted to be done with intrusive influences in his life. I can respect that.