The historian David Irving has lost his libel suit against Deborah
Lipstadt and Penguin Books. Mrs. Lipstadt had called Irving “one
of the most dangerous spokesmen for Holocaust denial.”
In a devastating ruling, Justice Charles Gray declared Irving a “racist” and “anti-Semite” who
distorts historical facts in order to portray Adolf Hitler in what
Gray, turning to British understatement, called “an unwarrantedly
favorable light.” Under British law, Irving must now bear the
$3 million in legal fees the defendants ran up.
Gray didn’t deny Irving’s contention that Mrs. Lipstadt,
with the assistance of other Jewish agencies, including the Israeli
government, has pursued a vendetta against Irving aimed at destroying
his career. Mrs. Lipstadt herself doesn’t deny it. “As
[Holocaust] survivors die off and there are fewer and fewer eyewitnesses,” she
has explained tearfully, “there won’t be people to tell
the story in the first person, and it will be easier to deny it.”
Such a statement calls in question Mrs. Lipstadt’s own competence
as a historian. How does the factuality of the organized murder of
millions depend on the testimony of those who escaped the murder? Individual
Jews in concentration camps were in no position to know just what the
comprehensive Nazi program was, and survivor testimony is notoriously
unreliable anyway. Mrs. Lipstadt might as well say that when all the
veterans of World War II die, it will become easier to deny that there
was any war at all. Her understanding of how history is compiled seems
Historians agree that Irving has unearthed many vital documents of
World War II; yet he too seems capable of remarkable naiveté.
It would be easier to believe that there was no Holocaust at all than
that, as Irving has argued in his book Hitler’s War and elsewhere,
the whole thing was conducted behind Hitler’s back and against
Still, Irving has guts. Without a lawyer, he single-handedly took
on a high-powered legal team, who employed several scholars in an all-out
effort to scrutinize his life’s work (and even his private diaries)
for evidence that could be used to discredit him. With such a mismatch
in money and resources, given that he is one of the most outspoken
scholars on earth, with a penchant for rash overstatement and even
gratuitous insult, it’s no marvel that he lost. Would any judge
have dared to rule in his favor?
But in what sense is Irving “dangerous,” as Mrs. Lipstadt
charged? Dangerous to whom, to what interests? And exactly why did
the Israeli government have to get involved in this case? Gray didn’t
Irving was already banned from several countries because of his views;
he has been prosecuted and fined in Germany, where he can no longer
get access to the very documents he himself has discovered! The world
can’t afford to tolerate even a single man like him? Apparently
not, though plenty of scholars espouse dubious and eccentric views
on all sorts of subjects without getting the treatment Irving has received.
Usually we think it’s enough to let book reviewers mete out justice,
however imperfectly. My last book drew some harsh reviews, but none
of them suggested that my career be wrecked or that I be jailed.
Some sort of congratulations must be due to the international Jewish
thought-control apparatus. It must be comforting to American taxpayers,
who pay billions in aid to Israel, to know that they are helping to
subsidize Israeli efforts to see to it that free speech doesn’t
get out of control in democratic countries, from Germany to Canada
to Australia. In Switzerland, for example, a man has just drawn a three-year
prison sentence for the crime of Holocaust denial. Presumably he too
was “dangerous” — to someone.
Hitler has been out of business for more than half a century. He poses
no threat now. On any objective scale, he did far less harm than Stalin
and his pals, but it’s no crime, anywhere, to deny or minimize
the atrocities of the Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill alliance (which Churchill
himself seems to have regretted later in his life). On the contrary,
the misdeeds of that alliance are still celebrated as victories for
democracy and civilization.
David Irving’s ruin should tell us where the real danger to
freedom now lies.
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on April 18, 2000.
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
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