April 18, 2000
The "Dangerous" David Irving
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 remarkably naive.
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 his wishes.
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 explain.
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.
April 18, 2000
Website fact: The stamina of the defence team in the Lipstadt libel action was aided by a six million dollar slushfund provided by Steven Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to pay 21 lawyers and "experts". A million pound lollipop was figuratively brandished from the defence lawyers' table throughout the trial, and all those who behaved got a lick at it; their experts like the "scholars" Prof. Evans, Prof. Longerich and others were paid up to £125,000 each (on top of the academic salaries they continued to draw) to testify as they did. Nobody was paying for Mr Irving. His witnesses testified without payment, from conviction. [Help!]