Anti-Semites feature Steele

From the April 27, 2004 edition of the Spokane Spokesman Review

Edgar Steele spoke to a group who deny the Holocaust.

By Bill Morlin - Spokesman Review Staff writer

North Idaho attorney Edgar J. Steele, who once defended the founder of the Aryan Nations, was a featured speaker at a weekend gathering of people who believe the Holocaust did not happen.

Steele, speaking at the Institute for Historical Review conference in Sacramento, Calif., said the claim that 6 million Jews died in World War II at the hands of Adolf Hitler is based upon "a pattern of lies."

"I don't want to pull my punches anymore," Steele told the audience. "I'm not ashamed."

The attorney from Sagle, Idaho, did not return a telephone call for comment on Monday.

"Even my kids can see through that," Steele said in attempting to dispute the deaths of millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. "The Germans were trying to get the Jews out of their country."

Debunking the Holocaust "gives us something to use to awaken others" to the lies being spread by Jews, Steele said. His speech was posted to an Internet site, and available for listening on Monday.

Two civil rights groups that monitor anti-Semitism and racism in the United States said Steele's participation in the event puts him center-stage in the extremist movement.

Mark Pitcavage, fact-finding director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Steele's "participation was noteworthy."

"It illustrated his continued and perhaps even increased willingness to situate himself as a prominent public figure among white supremacists and anti-Semites," Pitcavage said.

"The fact that his name is now being used as a draw for white supremacists indicates the degree to which he has apparently succeeded," the ADL research director said.

At the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., spokesman Mark Potok said Steele's appearance at the anti-Semitic gathering "shows he has very much joined the hard-liners."

"Edgar Steele has been going more and more into truly extremist anti-Semitic politics," Potok said.

The Institute for Historical Review, commonly called IHR, was started in 1979 by Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby.

The ADL describes the Liberty Lobby as "the largest anti-Jewish propaganda organization in the United States."

The Sacramento conference originally was scheduled to last two days at a 150-year-old German-American social club, the Sacramento Bee reported.

But a contract was broken when the organization's directors found out the "Historical Revisionism" event would attract Holocaust deniers, white nationalists and Hitler supporters, the Bee reported.

At the last minute, a substitute location was found, but the conference was limited to one day.

Steele told the audience he would have "crawled through broken glass" to attend the rally but expressed outrage that it was being held at a "secret location" found at the last minute.

The attorney moved to Idaho from California and was hired in 1999 to represent Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler in a civil suit filed by two people assaulted by Aryan guards.

A Kootenai County jury awarded the plaintiffs $6.3 million in 2000, resulting in the loss of the 20-acre Aryan compound.

Since then, Steele has gotten involved in other high-profile cases involving what he describes as "politically incorrect" clients.

He operates a Web site where he posts weekly columns, frequently with anti-Semitic or anti-government messages.

One of his recent columns titled "It Wasn't the Arabs," blamed Jews for a list of events including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.

The column created controversy recently when it was reprinted in a Vancouver, B.C., newspaper, where it was criticized by the Canadian Jewish Congress.

(Return to Main Page)