Racist quote in magazine stirs brouhaha

TORONTO — A National Geographic magazine article about Toronto has ignited a controversy because it contains overtly racist remarks by an outspoken neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.

The generally laudatory article about the Canadian city in the magazine's June 1996 issue accurately described Toronto resident Ernst Zundel as "one of the leading neo-Nazi propagandists in the world."

It quoted him as saying, "Canadians deserve all the problems that are coming with immigration."

Blacks are responsible for such problems as drive-by shootings, rapes and robberies, Zundel continued.

"I'm objecting to allowing hordes of racially unabsorbable populations to invade the living space of a specific race," the article, written by Richard Conniff, also quoted him as saying.

Ellen Cole, chairwoman of the community relations committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region, wrote a letter seeking an explanation from the National Geographic Society.

"Ernst Zundel, a German national with landed immigrant status, has been refused Canadian citizenship on the basis of being a security threat to Canada," Cole wrote.

"He is, by all accounts, one of the largest distributors of neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial material in the world. He is a racist and a bigot with links to some of the most violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations worldwide."

Cole wrote that a large number of politicians and field workers "would have been more appropriate to speak with credibility on immigration matters.

"Your choice to utilize Mr. Zundel gave him undeserved credibility and is a stain on your magazine's good name."

Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, along with four other mayors in the Toronto area, are preparing a joint letter to National Geographic that will also protest the use of Zundel as a source.

"If anybody is unabsorbable, it happens to be Ernst Zundel," said Janis Dembo, coordinator of the mayor's committee on community and race relations. "He's not a legitimate voice. It's reprehensible that they would actually publish his stereotypically racist comments about the black community."

Bernie Farber, national director of community relations for the Canadian Jewish Congress, noted that Conniff did not quote the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan in a similar article he wrote for National Geographic on the city of Chicago.