The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is advertising their holocaust denial claims via San Francisco’s metro system, specifically the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations.
The group, founded in 1978 by Willis Carto, has a long history of pushing blatantly anti-Semitic messages, often focused on Holocaust denial. The ads at the BART stations state that “History Matters!”
BART officials for their part said they don’t endorse the messaging in any way, noting that the messages are protected by free speech rights.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told the Guardian that they can’t deny the ad placements. “There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly,” Trost explained.
You may recall that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in August sued the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for failing to run ads from controversial right-winger Milo Yiannopoulos.
In 2015, a New York MTA ad blatantly read: “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” A court ruled that such a message was protected by freedom of speech. The judge overseeing the New York MTA case wrote that MTA officials “underestimate the tolerant quality of New Yorkers and overestimate the potential impact of these fleeting advertisements… Moreover, there is no evidence that seeing one of these advertisements on the back of a bus would be sufficient to trigger a violent reaction. Therefore, these ads — offensive as they may be — are still entitled to First Amendment protection.”
The messaging at the BART station couldn’t come at a worse time. Think Progress notes that “hate crimes and discrimination against Jews had risen 57 percent from the previous year, reaching the highest number in 20 years.”
The IHR, in the meantime, continues to claim that a “revisionist” version of history was written following the end of World War II. The group admits that millions of Jews died during the war but it refuses to accept how many Jewish people actually lost their lives at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi regime.