WASHINGTON — The person US President Donald Trump chose to lead federal family-planning programs once referred to a defender of Holocaust deniers as a “national treasure.”
Teresa Manning, Trump’s pick for deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services is known for her history as a fierce anti-abortion activist and former lobbyist with the National Right to Life Committee.
She also has a history defending and praising Joe Sobran, a former columnist and editor for the conservative magazine National Review until its then editor William Buckley fired him for writings he considered “contextually anti-Semitic.”
Mother Jones was first to report Manning’s history with Sobran, who died in 2010.
During a January 2003 event promoting her book “Back to The Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement,” Manning introduced Sobran, who was a speaker, and said of him: “He has been called ‘the finest columnist of his generation’ as well as a national treasure.’ I wholeheartedly agree with both statements.”
In fact, it was Pat Buchanan, who himself has doubted the death toll of the Holocaust and who the Anti-Defamation League has called “an unrepentant bigot,” who was responsible for the former quote.
During the years between Sobran’s unceremonious 1993 departure from the National Review and Manning’s introduction, he repeatedly defended an organization that denies the Holocaust while also churning out his own writings containing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Through columns and speeches, Sobran has spoken fondly of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), an organization best known for publishing articles and books denying the Holocaust and that scholars consider one of the leading vehicles for the international Holocaust denial movement.
The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to the IHR as a “pseudo-academic organization that claims to seek ‘truth and accuracy in history,’ but whose real purpose is to promote Holocaust denial and defend Nazism.”
Indeed, one article published in the think-tank’s magazine referred to Kristallnacht as “quite extraordinary.”
The author, Ingrid Weckert, said it was “a radical aberration from the normal pattern of daily life. The outburst was not in keeping with either the official National Socialist Jewish policy nor with the general German attitude towards the Jews. The Germans were no more anti-Semitic than any other people.”
Furthermore, at its conferences, the IHR has hosted the prominent British Holocaust-denier David Irving.
The director of the IHR, Mark Weber, took issue with the characterization of the organization as denying the Holocaust, telling the Times of Israel that was “not accurate.”
He pointed to a passage of its mission statement, which says the group “does not ‘deny’ the Holocaust” and “has no ‘position’ on any specific event or chapter of history, except to promote greater awareness and understanding, and to encourage more objective investigation.”
“Articles and reviews posted on the IHR website, and presentations given at IHR meetings and conferences, represent a wide range of views,” it goes on. “Each writer is responsible for what he or she writes or says. Accordingly, the IHR does not necessarily agree with the content or outlook of posted or distributed items.”
Sobran, in defending this organization and it’s magazine The Journal for Historical Review, once wrote that, “Charges that the IHR is anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi are belied by the Journal’s calm and reasonable tone, in contrast to the shrillness and violence of its enemies. And I do mean enemies.”
He went on, “Jewish groups, especially Zionist organizations, are forever reviling the IHR and trying to interfere with its activities.”
In other writings, Sobran has not quite explicitly denied the Holocaust, but has said that questioning facts surrounding that historical event was not anti-Semitic.
“Why on earth is it ‘anti-Jewish’ to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not infact, intent on extermination?” he asked.
Sobran’s commentary provoked strong response from leading Holocaust historian and anti-Semitic expert Deborah Lipstadt, who took exception with The New York Times’ obituary for Sobran saying he took a “skeptical line on the Holocaust.”
“Mr. Sobran may not have been an unequivocal denier,” she said, “but he gave support and comfort to the worst of them.”
Additionally, Sobran had in the past blamed US policies, particularly regarding its anti-terrorism measures after the September 11 attacks, as being “dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States.”
“What began as a war on terror is morphing into a war to crush Israel’s enemies. And naturally so,” he said. “The 9/11 attacks would never have occurred except for the US Government’s Middle East policies, which are pretty much dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United Staes. The Zionists boast privately of their power, but they don’t want the gentiles talking about it. Readers of Orwell will recognize the principle of Doublethink.”
Manning did not respond to a request for comment.
The article has been updated to include response from Mark Weber, the director of the Institute for Historical Review.