On Science and Evil-Doers: In Reply to Dovid Katz on the Republication of Scholarly Work


by Alexander Gogun

After my response[1] to Rossoliński-Liebe[2] appeared on DefendingHistory.com, the discussion unexpectedly changed direction when the editor stepped into the debate[3].

Unfortunately the degree to which my text was understood, in addition to the logic and argumentation in the commentary of Dovid Katz in many ways mirrored the depth (or lack thereof) of knowledge of history and historiography displayed by the aforementioned graduate student.

In the response, he writes, “It is curious that he [Gogun] would be offended that someone would point that out, when after all it had ‘only’ appeared ‘let us be frank, not in the most famous of journals’ and ‘reproduced on an amateur history website about Ukrainian nationalism.’”

Anyone who reads my response to Rossoliński-Liebe can plainly see the following: I was not offended that the aforementioned colleague pointed out that our article was re-published on a nationalist website. Rather, my indignation arises from the fact that the content of our text has been totally misconstrued and criticism leveled incorrectly.

But Katz’s main argument is hardly impressive: our outdated article could be used by evil-doers!

A scholar has one main task: to extract, develop and distribute knowledge. How this knowledge it utilized is a question only for those who use it. Pardon my frankness here with a useful parallel: let’s say the laws of gravity are put in practice by terrorists. Would Newton be to blame for this? Should we then ban the teaching of physics in school?

Or perhaps an example closer to home. Let us look at the recent articles of Katz himself which are cited by Putin propagandists. Does this then discredit the author? What
should he do after this has happened? Will Katz salute the courage of those who
pointed out how his work has been appropriated by lackeys of the Kremlin? Should
we then ask that the editor of DefendingHistory.com proceed to remove his article
from the internet? Or simply tell him to be quiet from now on?

If the basic laws of science itself and intellectual discussion (including the law of “thesis —anti-thesis — synthesis”) are not respected, then there is no sense in continuing the debate.

[1] Gogun, Alexander. On Academic Integrity: In reply to Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe on the
Presence of Jews in the UPA. 23.08.2011 // http://defendinghistory.com/?p=21054

[2] Rossoliński-Liebe, Grzegorz. ‘Academic’ Article Co-Authored by Alexander Gogun (University of Potsdam), Posted on the Nationalist Website ‘OUN-UPA’, Obfuscates the Ukrainian Holocaust, Denying OUN and UPA Anti-Jewish Violence. 15.08.2011 // http://defendinghistory.com/grzegorz-rossolinski-liebe-on-academic-article-that-obfuscates-the-holocaust-and-denies-oun-opa-anti-jewish-violence/20907

[3] Katz, Dovid. A Scholar’s Apt Warning on Ultranationalist Abuse of History and Historians. 28.08.2011 // http://defendinghistory.com/a-scholar%E2%80%99s-apt-warning-on-ultranationalist-abuse-of-history-and-historians/21262.

The article was written with the financial support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation (Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Duesseldorf).

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