UK can’t derail Holocaust rumor train

By Calvin Hobson

UK has earned international attention because of a false rumor that has simply refused to disappear.

The e-mail rumor claimed that UK stopped offering a Holocaust class because it offended the Muslim population.

The e-mails referred to the United Kingdom, but when that became shortened to UK, readers mistook it for the university, said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. That led some of the public to send a chain of messages to the UK administration even though history professor Jeremy D. Popkin teaches History 323: The Holocaust, as part of university’s Judaic Studies Program.

The rumors started around April 2007, Blanton said, and began to pick up around November, which led to the university sending out a news release in an effort to dispel the claims.

Because of easy access to the Internet, the rumor has become so widespread that no matter how much UK tries to debunk the message, the allegations remain, Blanton said. Although UK has sent replies to the e-mails it receives and will continued to try to inform people who do not know the rumor is false, Blanton said the administration can only send out so many e-mails.

“We receive about a thousand e-mails a day, and we try to respond to all of them,” Blanton said. “The more the truth circulates, the more we hope it slows down.”

Since then, several media outlets, including local newspapers in Kentucky and across the United States, The New York Times and BBC News, have reported on the rumor.

Despite the attempts to reassure critics that the Holocaust will stay in the curriculum, many still have animosity toward Muslim students on campus, said Muslim Student Association President Yahya Ahmed. The Muslim Student Association is also trying to reassure those people that Muslims would have no part in attempting to protest the class.

“The class has been going on for 30 years and nobody’s going to stop it,” Ahmed said. “(Those who think Muslims would) don’t know any better, and if they just did a little research they would know.”