Could Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who again reaffirmed his belief last week that the Holocaust was a myth, land his own show on Fox News? Going by Richard Dawkins' new book The Greatest Show on Earth, out now in the US and Canada, it may not be such a long shot.
In the first chapter of the book -- which aims to present the evidence for evolution in its totality -- Dawkins unapologetically lumps evolution-deniers and Holocaust-deniers together, and illustrates his point as follows:
"Imagine you are a teacher of recent history, and your lessons on 20th-century Europe are boycotted, heckled or otherwise disrupted by well-organised, well-financed and politically muscular groups of Holocaust-deniers...
Holocaust deniers really exist. They are vocal, superficially plausible and adept at seeming learned. They are supported by the president of at least one currently powerful state, and they include at least one bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
Imagine that, as a teacher of European history, you are continually faced with belligerent demands to 'teach the controversy', and to give 'equal time' to the 'alternative theory' that the Holocaust never happened but was invented by a bunch of Zionist fabricators.
...Fashionably relativist intellectuals chime in to insist that there is no absolute truth: whether the Holocaust happened is a matter of personal belief; all points of view are equally valid and should be equally 'respected'."
Based on Dawkins' argument, people like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Jewish Ben Stein -- who made the anti-evolution documentary Expelled -- are in the same boat as those who say that the Holocaust, which like evolution is a historical reality with overwhelming evidence supporting it, should be treated as a debatable issue in a history class.
It has been a busy time for deniers of history. Birthers who deny that Barack Obama is US-born, and truthers who insist that 9/11 was a government conspiracy, are getting louder. Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad is in New York this week for the UN General Assembly's annual meeting, amid protests against his most recent statements about the Holocaust.
And actor Kirk Cameron is ready for the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species on November 24. In a new YouTube video, Cameron announces his plan to distribute 50,000 free copies of Darwin's book to university students -- but with a catch. The books will have a 50 page introduction written by Ray Comfort, aka the "Banana Guy", who is famous for using a banana as an argument against evolution. In the introduction, Comfort writes about Hitler (who was, interestingly, a Christian) having an "undeniable" connection to the theory of evolution, claiming that Darwin's "racism" inspired him.
Also in the crossfire this year is Creation, the new film starring Paul Bettany as a young Charles Darwin who struggles with his faith following the death of his 10-year-old daughter. The movie has yet to find a distributor in the United States, due to the "controversy" surrounding the subject matter.
But if evolution is still a controversy with two legitimate sides to it, why isn't the Holocaust? In a way, Dawkins' assertion doesn't go far enough. While Holocaust deniers simply deny historical evidence, evolution deniers blind themselves to much more: between the disciplines of physics, archeology, paleontology, molecular genetics, botany, cosmology, and geology, there is a mountain of evidence -- more than there is for the Holocaust -- supporting evolution.
I wonder how Ben Stein would reconcile this. Would he hear out Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust the way Glenn Beck heard Stein out on his anti-evolution film? Fair and balanced, anyone?