Has there ever been a stranger life trajectory than that of Holocaust revisionist David Cole?
At 21 he found television notoriety as a Jew who questioned important parts of the Holocaust narrative. But death threats forced him out of revisionism. He faked his death and then disappeared for over a decade — only to reinvent himself on the Hollywood conservative scene as a high-powered GOP mover and shaker.
For a while he was riding high, the toast of the local Republican establishment with his alcohol soaked fund-raising events where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight, Ron Cheney and Andrew Breitbart.
Then the combination of a woman scorned and You Tube’s resurrection of old chat show clips did him again. He was “outed” in spectacular fashion last year then turned into a pariah by the conservative establishment. He was banned by the Republican Party for life and condemned in more than 200 magazines, newspapers and websites for his youthful views. His GOP friends wanted nothing more to do with the “evil Holocaust denier”.
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Now Cole is back with a witty and entertaining memoir Republican Party Animal pouring bile on his enemies from left and right and settling scores in epic fashion. It is eye-opening about the intersection between Hollywood and politics and the inside track of blogs associated with the right, such as Breitbart.com.
But there is much more in this black comedy of a book which owes much to the style of P J O’Rourke. Cole does not recant his earlier views in any way and in fact reasserts them strongly. He has a keen understanding and a wide knowledge of Holocaust studies, and his book offers a fascinating insight into the world of revisionism,
It might be easy to dismiss David Cole, who did not attend university. He is the son of a Beverley Hills doctor who may or may have not dispensed the drugs that killed Elvis Presley. Although he has been accused of being contrarian for the sake of it, he says he approached the Holocaust as a youthful mystery that became an obsession. Raised in a secular household that encouraged questioning of established opinion, he says he had no option but to follow the evidence where it took him.
That was into the TV studios of such shows as Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and 60 minutes, and an international profile as a revisionist between 1990 and 1995. His low-budget documentaries were shot from within the gates of Auschwitz and questioned what happened there. He said the gas chamber at Dachau was a cleverly constructed fake. He poured scorn on the 6 million number.
In turn he was reviled and called the Anti-Christ. Eventually he was put out of business by several beatings and a $25,000 bounty placed on his head by a group of thugs calling themselves the Jewish Defense League. In 1998 he faked his death, then changed his name to David Stein.
After dropping out of revisionism he looked around for a way to make a living and found himself able to use his archive to make money through two markets. Firstly he sold to revisionists and deniers — a limited market niche if ever there was one. Then, demonstrating immense chutzpah, he utilised his vast knowledge of the subject to become an historical consultant on mainstream Holocaust documentaries and films, most of which, he now claims, were a heap of garbage from the factual point of view.
A few years ago he reinvented himself as a networker on the Hollywood conservative scene as an event organiser for the “underground” Hollywood conservative group Friends of Abe. He duly found himself mixing with Hollywood royalty such as actors Gary Sinise, Clint Eastwood and Jon Voight and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, not to mention politicians such as Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and John Boehner.
His spin-off fund-raising operation was highly successful. Republican Party Animals allowed conservatives to let their hair down in a frenzy of alcohol and pole dancers. Cole, an outgoing go-getter, was in his element and was seen as someone who could get things done and throw a terrific party.
He was also soon in demand as a writer amongst the blogging and journalistic fraternity on the right. His journalism ran in many leading right wing sites. He mixed with people such as Andrew Breitbart (whom he distrusted) and David Horowitz (whom he disliked) and Ben Shapiro (who he thought was shifty and dishonest). He mingled with Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle, Jonah Goldberg and Roger Simon. Daniel Pipes offered him a writing job.
Then a disgruntled old flame pointed out his Holocaust revisionist chat show appearances and passed the links around. His Facebook connections started to melt away in front of his eyes and soon his stout conservative friends wouldn’t even take his calls, let alone hear his explanation. At the age of 45, he was a pariah again.
In the ensuing media deluge, the one thing that surprised Cole was the unanimity with which his former conservative associates abandoned him. From the American Spectator to PJ Media, the rejection was total and unconditional. The Guardian newspaper treated him more fairly, he says.
Former friends fell into two categories. Those who were genuinely disgusted and those such as radio host Larry Elder who were fearful of the effects on their own career of being linked to a “Holocaust denier”.
People who went to bed one night with absolutely no knowledge of how many extermination camps are said to exist became blinded with rage when they woke up the next morning to learn that their trusted friend once stated there were two fewer than traditionally claimed.
In the case of ninety per cent of these people, had I told them, before my outing that , that there were four organised killing camps for Jews during World War Two there would have been no anger, no fury, because they’d never bothered to learn the standard story by which to measure the revisionist version.
I could have told them there were three extermination camps, or thirteen. They wouldn’t have balked. They trusted my judgement. But after they were told by the media I had violated a sacred tenet, no one could hold back the fury.
The experience gave him a keen insight into the nature of conservatives and their lack of backbone. He says they secretly relish denouncing others as Nazis because it means they can join ranks with the left and gain social approval. In other words, it is cowardice.
He enjoys recounting his own triumphs against the Holocaust establishment and gleefully recounts exposing the “Los Angeles Museum of Intolerance” for showing phony gas van footage and pretending it was real. Cole showed that it came from a 1962 Polish feature film.
Some of the anecdotes are just surreal. During Cole’s Montel Williams appearance he was confronted with a Holocaust survivor who told of how his entire family had been exterminated. This led to the discovery of the man’s other brother who, unbeknownst to him, had been living in New York after emigrating from the former Soviet Union. The two brothers each thought the other had perished and had been reunited only because of the David Cole TV appearance.
The fact that this supported Cole’s point — that many who were thought to have died, really ended up behind the Iron Curtain — was lost on the Montel Williams show which broadcast a reunion between the two brothers without mentioning the context.
Cole’s own politics seem to be centre right; he says he deplores the GOP’s descent into conspiracy mongering. “The right wing was still trying to convince itself that everything, from civil rights to counterculture, was neither inevitable popular nor organic but a commie plot orchestrated by ‘subversives.’” And he is dismissive about one Republican woman’s “outrageously racist and inaccurate rant” that “white people built this country and white men are this country.”
He says he is a pro-Zionist who supports Israel but has a low opinion of secular Jews who, while nominally foregoing their Jewish religion, have replaced it with the secular religion of the Holocaust “for which no amount of revision or criticism was tolerable.” By contrast he had far less of a problem with orthodox Jews than secular ones because their religious vision does not depend on the Holocaust.
In the earlier part of the book he has much to say about the revisionists he admires, such as Bradley Smith, and what he claims are the fallacies and lazy historiography of other revisionists or even straight-out deniers like Robert Faurisson. He holds David Irving in high regard though he says Irving goes looking for trouble.
While he has reservations about Ernst Zundel, he says that his one achievement should be noted: during Zundel’s trial in Canada, many Holocaust experts were forced to testify under oath.
What now for David Cole? He says he has rededicated himself to the subject of Holocaust revisionism which was always his true calling. A blog post he wrote after his ‘outing’ shows his attitude: “Apologize My Ass.” Whatever one may say about him, this is a courageous given given that he very easily could have renounced his views as the product of a misspent youth. There are some very entertaining podcasts featuring him on You Tube with Joshua Blakeney and Vincent Eastwood.