Bay Area Rapid Transit approved advertisements from a group that promotes Holocaust denials and anti-Semitic sentiments, citing the organization’s right to free speech.
Institute for Historical Review’s billboards feature the words “History Matters!” The billboards are in rotation in at least two BART stations in San Francisco, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
The group was founded by Holocaust denier Willis Carto in 1978 and the group published an article saying there was “no evidence for Nazi gas chambers” and Germans were no more anti-Semitic than any other people.”
Mark Weber, the organization’s director, told the newspaper the group paid $6,400 for the ads and was initially denied when the designs included a link to their website. Once the link was removed, the ads were approved, he said.
The group’s website has “published articles and items that reasonably could be called Holocaust denial, but it doesn’t necessarily represent my view or the views of the IHR,” Weber told The Guardian.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said: “We cannot deny the ads.
“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … 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 said she understood the public backlash.
“When people look into it, they are upset about the ads, which is understandable,” she said.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum characterizes the Institute for Historical Review as a group that “concentrates on spreading revisionist propaganda on the Internet and on sending speakers to appear at various forums, including universities in the USA.”