Has Kerry the Nazi cast a spell, or are our media watchdogs just incompetent?
After subjecting readers to dozens of paragraphs of tangled syntax, tortured qualifications, and glib non-sequitirs, the Broadcasting Standards Authority's report refused to take a position on whether Bolton 'is or is not' a Holocaust denier. According to the BSA, I should not have been so bold as to attach the term to this country's best-known neo-Nazi. Chris Trotter summed up the sentiments of many of those who read the BSA's decision when he called it an 'outrage', and said that it raised serious doubts about the 'ethics and competence' of the organisation.
One bemused Australian blogger jokingly suggested that the BSA's bizarre decision might have been caused by the sort of black magic in which Kerry Bolton has often dabbled. As University of Waikato scholar Wilhemmus van Leeuwen has famously shown, Bolton attempted in the 1990s to fuse his neo-Nazi politics with Satanism by forming organisations with names like The Order of the Left Hand Path and by publishing magazines that mixed denunciations of inferior races with denunciations of Christianity.
If Kerry Bolton is casting dark spells from a dungeon somewhere in Wellington in the hope of corrupting Kiwi media watchdogs, then he seems to be having some success. Only a few months after the Broadcasting Standards Authority flushed its credibility down the drain, the New Zealand Press Council has upheld complaints Bolton made about an article which appeared last December in the Christchurch paper The Press. The Press Council has found that The Press was wrong to characterise Bolton as a member of the Nationalist Alliance, the gaggle of far right grouplets formed in New Zealand in the lead-up to the 2008 elections, and that it was also mistaken when it characterised him as a Nazi. To its credit, the Press has refused to resile from its claim that Bolton was a member of the Nationalist Alliance. The paper points to an April 2008 document establishing relations between the Nationalist Alliance and an Australian far right group, and notes that Kerry Bolton signed that document on behalf of the Nationalist Alliance. Bolton appears to have convinced the Press Council that he was not, in fact, a member of the Nationalist Alliance by removing the original April 2008 document from the internet and replacing it with a new document that does not feature his signature. Despite the fact that Australian anti-racist researchers have placed copies of the original, unaltered document online, the Press Council appears to have been taken in by Bolton's clumsy manoeuvre.
Bolton used similarly dishonest tactics to confuse the Broadcasting Standards Authority last year. After the BSA asked me for evidence of Bolton's anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, I pointed them to the many pieces he had written for the Adelaide Institute, the notorious neo-Nazi 'thinktank' whose Director Frederick Toben was sent to jail last year for hate crimes. Instead of owning up to his longstanding involvement in the Adelaide Institute, Bolton removed his articles and lectures from the organisation's website. Despite the fact that many other anti-semitic texts by Bolton existed on other parts of the internet, the BSA only visited the hastily-edited Adelaide Institute site. After failing to find anything by Bolton there, the BSA decided it would not be able to decide whether the man was a Holocaust denier or not.
I doubt whether many readers of this blog will demur when I suggest that Kerry Bolton is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. His ability to spell two-syllable words and his aversion to tattoos may have given him a reputation as an 'intellectual' amongst his bonehead chums on the racist far right, but the stream of self-published books and articles he has produced over the past four decades have failed to convince the rest of us of the weight of his learning. Bolton's claims that white men discovered New Zealand thousands of years ago, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a real historical document, that Stalin was a 'secret Jew', that the Out of Africa thesis is a plot by communist anthrobiologists, and that Hitler was a pleasant, peace-loving man could all be demolished by the average eleven year-old. How is it, then, that the buffoonish Bolton has been able to pull the wool over the eyes of first the Broadcasting Standards Authority and now the Press Council? Like Chris Trotter, I suspect incompetence, rather than black magic, is at fault.
I am pleased to be able to note that Radio New Zealand has not taken the BSA's outrageous decision lying down. Radio New Zealand prepared a special submission to the BSA early this year, in an effort to get the body to reverse its error. The submission featured testimony from several experts on anti-semitism, and extensive quotes from Bolton's writings, but failed to make the BSA see reason. Radio New Zealand is now planning to take the Broadcasting Standards Authority to the High Court.
What follows is the text of a document I supplied to Radio New Zealand when they were preparing their submission to the Broadcasting Standards Authority earlier this year. I'd be interested to see a response to it from anyone who sympathises with the recent decisions of the Press Council and the BSA.
Kerry Bolton: neo-Nazi, anti-semite, Holocaust denier
The charge of Holocaust denial is a serious one, even if it carries no legal penalty in New Zealand. I am satisfied, though, that the evidence available easily establishes that Kerry Bolton has been a Holocaust denier for his whole adult life.
According to sociologist Paul Spoonley's book The Politics of Nostalgia, which was issued by Dunmore Press in 1987 and remains the only published full-length study of New Zealand's racist far right, Bolton joined the National Socialist Party of New Zealand in the mid-70s, when he was still a teenager, and belonged to a string of similar organisations in the late '70s and '80s.
The National Socialist Party modelled itself on the organisation of the same name established by Hitler, and explicitly denied the Holocaust. In 1981 Bolton founded a group called New Force, which argued in favour of apartheid at the time of the Springbok tour to New Zealand, and which issued leaflets warning against Polynesian immigration and the 'bastardisation of white New Zealand'. In the same year Bolton established a neo-pagan religious group, the Church of Odin, which explicitly barred Jews from its ranks.
In 1997 Bolton was the founder of the short-lived New Zealand Fascist Union, and in 2004 he became the National Secretary of the National Front, an organisation that became notorious for its members' violent attacks on Somali immigrants in Wellington.
Bolton has complemented his political activism with a stream of rambling, often self-published books and articles on subjects that interest him. These texts offer much evidence of his history of Holocaust denial.
In The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry, which he self-published sometime in the '80s, and which he continues to sell through his publishing house Renaissance Books, Bolton insists that the Holocaust was a fantasy created by enemies of Hitler and the white race. On page twelve of The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry Bolton claims that Jews were placed in concentration camps because they were a security threat to Germany, not because the Nazis wanted to exterminate them. One page thirty-five of his polemic Bolton insists, in the face of all the evidence, that the Nazis allowed the Jews to administer the concentration camps themselves, through a system of elected councils. On page sixty-three Bolton turns to the bombings of Dresden and of Hiroshima in 1945, and claims that these acts, and not the Nazi treatment of the Jews, constitute 'the only literal holocausts' of World War Two.
Bolton wrote The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry some time ago, and we might might wonder whether the text was perhaps a youthful abberration, something its author has since outgrown and now regrets. A look at a long, vitriolic 'Open Letter to the War Generation' which Bolton posted to the neo-Nazi Stormfront website in 2003 should dispel any doubts about the man's continued attachment to Hitlerism and Holocaust denial. Using arguments that recall his book on the Holocaust, Bolton's letter explains why the Jews deserved the Nuremberg Laws, the Kristallnacht, and internment in the 1930s:
German Jews were rounded up as enemy aliens, since their own leaders publicly declared "war" on Hitler the very year he achieved Government, 1933, at a time when there were few restrictions put on Jews. The Jews, under Samuel Untermeyer organised a world economic boycott to try and wreck Germany economically. Jews and their communist allies organised boycotts of shops that sold Germany goods. People were beaten up by Jewish-communist thugs if they tried to resist.
Despite its insistence on the evil of the Jews, Bolton's 'Open Letter' denies that they were ever targetted for mass extermination. The Holocaust is, apparently, a myth designed to denigrate Adolf Hitler:
So what was Hitler's "crime". And why is he still being demonised, even though his alleged "war crimes" have now been shown to have been inventions of Allied war propaganda (of the type that told Britons during World War I about the bayoneting of Belgium babies and the crucifixion of Canadian soldiers, etc.). Why is he still so feared?
It is because he inaugurated a new form of government that was based on the folkish community, where "the common interest comes before self-interest"? Youth were given a sense of purpose, were clean living, worked at a stretch of Labour Service regardless of class or family wealth. Even William Shirer remarked on the callow, unhealthy English youth, in comparison to the healthy vigour of German youth.
Bolton has not always chosen neo-Nazi venues like Stormfront to express his opinions. He has written many letters to New Zealand's mainstream media expounding his views on race, Hitler, World War Two, and the Holocaust. On the 9th of September 2003 The Listener carried a letter from Bolton which commented on the controversy surrounding Joel Hayward, the Canterbury University student who wrote a Masters thesis denying the Holocaust. An internal investigation found that the thesis had been poorly supervised and that it was full of errors. Hayward eventually recanted his views and accepted the reality of the Holocaust, but he has nevertheless remained a hero to many neo-Nazis.
Bolton's letter to The Listener defends Hayward's thesis by citing the work of a series of notorious Holocaust deniers:
[Listener writer Philip] Mathews fails to acknowledge the academic credentials of the revisionists he cites, doctors Countess and Toben. Proponents of holocaust orthodoxy claim that revisionism has no academic standing. Most spokesmen for revisionism are academics, or are qualified in relevant fields such as engineering and toxicology...
Where Dr Hayward errs is in his retraction of his conclusions. The original Leuchter investigation of the alleged Auschwitz gas chambers has been professionally replicated by Germar Rudolf, chemical analysis showing that there is insufficient cyanide residue for these buildings to have been used for mass executions.
Like the Adelaide Institute's Frederick Toben, who earned his recent term in an Australian prison with violent anti-Jewish outbursts, Germar Rudolf is an anti-semite whose 'research' is designed as a defence of the Hitler regime he reveres. Rudolf was convicted of inciting racial hatred in Germany in 1995 and was jailed again in 2007 for Holocaust denial.
Bolton has attempted to be more discreet about his Holocaust denial and his neo-Nazism in recent years. He likes to use euphemisms like 'revisionist' rather than the ugly term 'Holocaust denier', and he prefers to call himself a 'radical European conservative', rather than a Nazi or a fascist. But the essence of Bolton's thought has not changed.
In his 2005 self-published booklet Nazism? An Answer to the Smear-mongers, Bolton attempts to distance himself from 'Hitlerism', by which he means 'uncritical' reverence for the founder of the Third Reich. At the beginning of his text, though, Bolton makes it clear that he has not abandoned most of his old views, including his Holocaust denial:
We are not interested in jumping on a bandwagon with communist, capitalists, and Zionists by perpetuating slander against the German people. (pg 3)
The 'slander' which Bolton refers to is, of course, the claim that the Nazis killed six million Jews. Bolton complains that 'Zionist academics' are engaging in 'the continuation of wartime propaganda' when they teach and write about the Holocaust.
In his self-published 2006 booklet Red Alert: behind the smear campaign against Australian nationalists, Bolton endorses the views of a series of veteran Holocaust deniers, but chooses to call them 'revisionists', and to deny their anti-semitism:
As for the ready smear that to question aspects of World War Two orthodox history, which is called 'revisionism', the first to question the magnitude of the actions against the Jews, to take the most contentious eg of revisionism, were left-wing academics, the American Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, and the French Resistance hero and concentration camp inmate, Professor Paul Rassinger. (pg 24)
In this passage, Bolton attempts to present Holocaust denial, which he has given the euphemism 'revisionism', as the creation of respected liberal scholars unblemished by any association with the racist right. In reality, Harry Elmer Barnes was a onetime liberal historian who adopted far right views in his later years, and won notoreity for his explicit denials of the Holocaust. Paul Rassinger was a resistance fighter in World War Two, but in the postwar years he lost his old allies by becoming a denier of the Holocaust. Rassinger claimed to hold to the same views which had made him a resistance fighter, but he was widely disbelieved, and in 1964 it was revealed that he had written many articles for a neo-fascist journal called Le Rivarol under a pseudonym. Neither Rassinger nor Barnes' Holocaust denial ever enjoyed the intellectual respectability Bolton claims for it.
If we examine Bolton's book Thinkers of the Right: Challenging Materialism, which he self-published as recently as 2008, and which purports to be a series of potted biographies of twentieth century intellectuals like Martin Heidegger and New Zealand's ARD Fairburn, we find old prejudices alive and well.
In his book's chapter on the Italian Futurist poet and fascist Filippo Marinetti, for example, Bolton eulogises the short-lived Italian Social Republic which Benito Mussolini founded in the north of Italy after he had lost most of his country to partisans and Allied invaders. Bolton presents the Social Republic as an almost utopian enterprise:
The fascist faithful established a last stand, in the north, named the Italian Social Republic. With a new idealism, even former communist and liberal leaders were drawn to the Republic. The Manifesto of Verona was drafted, restoring various liberties, and championing labour against plutocracy within the vision of a united Europe.
In reality, the Italian Social Republic was one of the purest expressions of Nazism ever to exist outside of Nazi Germany. Hitler's troops propped up the state, Nuremberg-style laws prevented races mixing, and Jews were deported in their thousands to death camps north of the Alps. The Manifesto of Verona called for Mussolini's movement to return to its fascist roots, demanded the expulsion of Jews from Europe, and called for the continent's warring powers to unite and establish a single empire that could rule all of Africa and Asia.
No one who was not a committed neo-Nazi could write favourably about the Italian Social Republic. Bolton's support for Mussolini's last government, and his failure to mention the role of that government in the Holocaust, show that he still holds the views expressed so explicitly in his book The Holocaust Myth and in his 2003 letters to The Listener and to Stormfront.