Toronto, February 3, 2000
Publish and be damned
by MICHAEL COREN (Sun Media)
His defenders refer to it as the court case of the century. It isn't. But David Irving's libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt is certainly significant.
British historian Irving is the darling of the extreme right and has written a series of books condemning Churchill and Roosevelt [sic] and defending Hitler.
He has also made speeches which at the very least minimize the Holocaust.
He is suing Lipstadt because in her seminal book on Holocaust denial, she refers to Irving's views and, according to Irving, this led to a whole series of publishers rejecting Irving's work and preventing him from making a living.
Irving will likely lose the case, but whatever happens all this says a great deal about the hypocrisy, let alone the immorality, of the writer and his followers.
People like Irving go on interminably about a Jewish conspiracy to silence them. Actually it is not a conspiracy at all, simply a consensus by intelligent professionals, Jews and others, that books containing falsehoods ought not to be published.
Irving claims to be the champion of free speech but he is attacking a fellow author because in her expression of free speech she said negative things about him.
Remember, nobody here has stopped Irving being published, it is just that major publishers have dismissed his work.
Big deal. Self-publishing is increasingly favoured, particularly by people who sell their books at speeches or on the Internet. Which is precisely what Irving does.
But consistency has never been one of Irving's strong points. A self-proclaimed mild fascist, he initially accepted the Holocaust but claimed Hitler didn't know about it. Perhaps the Fuhrer slept in that day. A few years later Irving changed his mind and said the Holocaust as we know it didn't happen, although some Jews did die because of British and American bombing raids and through disease and wartime starvation.
(Under questioning at the trial, Irving denied the Nazis killed millions of Jews in gas chambers. Asked about the total number of people killed by the Nazis he said he hesitated to speculate, but that it was "certainly more than one million, certainly less than four million.")
Actually I do not think minimizing or even denying the Holocaust, or any other historical fact, should be illegal. Nor do I believe it should be illegal for publishers to treat such denials with the contempt they deserve.
What is good enough for the goose (step) is surely good enough for the gander. Irving is merely the corpse of hatred with a few coats of makeup and oodles of formaldehyde -- life-like at first glance but still rotting. A few years ago he made a video in which he said, "I am not an anti-Semite." Long pause. "Yet."
Well that's good to hear. Presumably our man in the expensive British suit has now made up his mind.
Doubly disgraceful about all these types, to me, is there [sic] apparent cowardice. If they would only say outright what I believe many of them feel, that they hate Jews, hate Israel because it is a Jewish state, think Hitler was a saviour although they don't think the Holocaust happened, wished it would have, I would at least respect their crude honesty.
Instead they claim to be interested only in historical accuracy, despise Israel because they love Arabs (while their skinhead fans in Europe spend a great deal of time beating them up), have no views on Hitler at all and even quite enjoyed Fiddler on the Roof.
Consider the irony. The vast majority of Holocaust minimizers and deniers are Nazi sympathizers, often connected with people who publish violently anti-Semitic books and tapes, blame Jews for all the world's evils and call for a racial revolution.
Yet they say they would never harm a Jewish person and know their spiritual forbears in Germany would not have done so either. In the words of the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street, what is wrong with this picture?
The fact is, Mr. Irving, there are 12 million reasons why your books should be rejected by serious publishers, and they speak Yiddish, Polish, Russian, German and most other languages. They are Jewish and gentile, male and female, adult and child. And the latter in particular, in their pure and perfect wisdom, cry out that you are a man who has earned the disgust of the living.
Publish and be damned, sir. But don't cry like a brat when the good guys tell you that they just aren't buying.
Thursday, February 3, 2000