Jeet Heer, apparently a senior editor at The New Republic, has slandered Christina Jeffrey, a historian who co-signed (with me and 125 others) a writers’ and scholars’ statement supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump.
Heer claims that Prof. Jeffrey “thinks the Nazi perspective isn’t getting its due.”
This is a thirty-year-old canard against Jeffrey.
Let’s say Jeet Heer rogers young owls in underground aviaries. He doesn’t really, at least not to my direct knowledge. But neither is Prof. Jeffrey an apologist for the Nazis, a Holocaust denier, or an anti-Semite. And I can prove that, which is more than I can do for the equally unfounded claim about Jeet Heer.
No one truly knows whether Jeet Heer performs abominations upon young owls, because the issue never has been investigated. We know with absolute certainty, however, that Prof. Jeffreys is guiltless of any hostility towards Jews or any lurking sympathies for their persecutors. This 30-year-old slander against Prof. Jeffreys was exhaustively reviewed by the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith, Jewish media outlets, and various academic observers. In the case of Jeet Heer, the best we can say is that there is no direct evidence that he practices the perversions attributed to the Bishop of Balham in the Limerick.
Jeet Heer specializes in comic books, prolonged exposure to which are known to interfere with synaptic transmission and cause hallucinations — or perhaps not. But this statement of Heer’s is utterly and despicably false:
“The ‘Scholars and Writers for Trump’ include a historian who thinks the Nazi perspective isn’t getting its due. The website American Greatness has compiled a list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump” and there are some very odd names on it, including the historian Christiana Jeffreys.
In 1986, Jeffrey had been hired by Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education to review proposed federal funding for a course on the Holocaust. Jeffreys was hostile to the course, arguing in her evaluation that “the program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Filling out an evaluation form of a Holocaust studies program, Prof. Jeffreys responded to an inquiry about the “objectivity and balance” of the program ironically. More pointedly, Jeffreys attacked the program in question for not properly explaining the development of Nazism, as the program linked the attempt to exterminate all the world’s Jews with the lynching of blacks in the American South. It’s just a poor representation of history, Prof. Jeffrey argued.
For this, she drew ire — and slander — from some liberals.
But a stake was driven through the heart of this phony tale of Holocaust denial two decades ago. How did Heer miss it?
Tracy Lee Simmons wrote in 1995 in National Review:
[Prof. Jeffrey] was asked for an “overall assessment” of the grant application. In the last of four paragraphs, she wrote, “The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view, and it is not presented; nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan. The selection of only two problem areas, Germany and Armenia, leaves out many others, many of which are more recent. I am thinking of the USSR, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Ethiopia among others. No explanation of this selectivity is given.”
The program as written, she thought, had failed to account for the origins of the Holocaust, origins that would only be obscured further by the imputed linkage between the lynching of blacks in the American South and the government-sanctioned murder of Jews in Nazi Germany. In short, this effort to “clarify values” made for bad history.
Mrs. Jeffrey wasn’t alone in her criticism of “Facing History and Ourselves.”
Writing in 1990 for Commentary, Holocaust scholar Lucy Dawidowicz agreed: “Putatively a curriculum to teach the Holocaust, Facing History was also a vehicle for instructing 13-year-olds in civil disobedience and indoctrinating them with propaganda for nuclear disarmament.”
Mrs. Dawidowicz also said the last chapter of the proposed text supplied “exercises in outright political indoctrination in currently fashionable causes.”
These remarks were taken out of context by Democratic critics of the Reagan administration. Prof. Jeffreys became a magnet for vilification in 1995, when Rep. Newt Gingrich nominated her as historian of the House of Representatives.
No less than Abe Foxman, the long-serving head of the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’Rith, repudiated the charge in an August 22, 1995 letter of apology to Prof. Jeffrey.
I want to assure you that, after examining the facts and circumstances of the controversy involving the “Facing History and Ourselves” Holocaust curriculum, ADL is satisfied that any characterization of you as anti-Semitic or sympathetic to Nazism is entirely unfounded and unfair.
All of this material, and a great deal more, can be located in seconds with an online search.
The attack on Prof. Jeffrey was a canard from the beginning, repudiated with apologies by the most vigilant watchdogs in the matter of Holocaust denial.
But it has been exhumed and displayed again by “Jeet Heer,” who, according to The New Republic, is a proper noun rather than a verb. Yet in a now-extinct dialect of East Frisian, to “jeet heer” a young owl means something I cannot mention in a family newspaper. If you don’t believe me, Google “jeet heer” and bestiality. You won’t find anything — which is to say that you will find nothing to discredit the link between Jeet Heer and the Bishop of Balham.
In the case of Prof. Jeffrey’s Holocaust denial, however, you will find massive evidence refuting the charge.
So, in short, it is more likely that Jeet Heer practices bestiality than it is that Prof. Jeffrey denies the Holocaust.
Prof. Jeffrey has that letter from the Anti-Defamation League posted online. I challenge Jeet Heer to produce a letter from the ASPCA establishing his innocence in the matter of the young owls. Perhaps the owls were of the age of consent? If that is Jeet Heer’s defense, let him produce the evidence.
Otherwise Jeet Heer, whose major accomplishment appears to have been editing a collection of comic books, describes as “strange oddballs of little repute” the co-signers of the letter. Folks such as distinguished political philosopher Hadley Arkes of Amherst College, and newspaper publisher Conrad Black, whose biography of Franklin Roosevelt had enormous critical success.
This from an editor of comic books. Kal v’Chomer, Batman.