Candidate's 'Holocaust Revisionist' Views Spark Reston Write-In Campaign
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Ken Meyercord has an Ivy League education, a high-tech job at Freddie Mac, a local public-access cable television show on international affairs and a long history of writing about what he says are "myths" of the Holocaust, including a piece called "(Holo-) History is Bunk."
"Survivor accounts of the cremation process gives new meaning to the word 'tragicomic,' " he wrote in the article. "To hear eyewitnesses tell it, it took little more than a match for the corpses to spontaneously combust."
Now Meyercord hopes to add a new entry on his résumé: winning an at-large seat on the board of the Reston Citizens Association, a quasi-governmental body that sets the agenda for the community of 60,000, which is not officially a municipality. The odds are in his favor, because he is running unopposed.
But some residents, mortified by his views on the Holocaust, have thrown together a last-minute write-in campaign to stop him.
"This is America. He has a right to believe what he wants to believe," said Debra Steppel, the former Reston Citizens Association board member behind the write-in campaign. "However, we, as citizens of Reston, ought to have a choice to have a board member who represents our views."
The vote will be held today and tomorrow during the Reston Festival at Reston Town Center.
Steppel, 41, said she heard about Meyercord's provocative local TV show about a month ago in a flier passed out by a religious organization. When a newsletter from the Reston Citizens Association came around about a week ago with a list of candidates for the 13-member volunteer board, she recognized Meyercord's name and swung into action. Steppel, along with five volunteers, is soliciting votes for write-in candidate Colin Mills, a member of the board who was not planning to seek reelection until Meyercord's views came to light.
In an interview yesterday, Meyercord described himself as "a Holocaust revisionist," taking pains to distinguish himself from Holocaust deniers.
"I believe millions of Jews were uprooted from their homes and died in droves," Meyercord said. But he dismisses as Allied propaganda the assertion that Nazi Germany embarked on a mission to annihilate European Jews, a plan known as the Final Solution. He also denies that Nazis used gas chambers to murder Jews, saying gas chambers did not exist, and expresses skepticism that the number of Holocaust victims reached 6 million.
Meyercord said he does not understand the fuss over his candidacy. "I would say it's a little off-topic," Meyercord said.
Meyercord, 65, said he and his wife, Samira, 64, have lived in Reston since 1977. Their two children attended Reston schools. His candidate biography online notes that he has coached soccer, baseball and basketball, and served as a board member and treasurer of the Northgate Square Cluster Association in the 1980s. He founded the Reston Badminton Club this year.
"We like Reston the way it is and would hate to see it turned into the Queens," he wrote in his candidate biography -- a reference to his view that Reston should not grow into an urban landscape of 20-story buildings, he said.
His other writings include a piece comparing Israel's treatment of Gaza to the Nazis' handling of the Warsaw Ghetto; an apocalyptic fantasy in which an invasion of the United States is an allusion to the war in Iraq; and a booklet called "The Ethic of Zero Growth" that argues for holding the world's population at current levels. And Meyercord has posted the lyrics of two song parodies on the Web, including an off-color, political satire set to "America the Beautiful" called "America the Doody-full."Meyercord said his views of history changed after living in the Middle East. After attending Dartmouth, he obtained a master's degree at American University in Beirut, where he also met his wife, who is Palestinian, and became more sympathetic the Arab view of the conflict with Israel.
"I found I had it all upside down," he said.