The Dangerous David Irving
April 18, 2000
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
Gray didnt deny Irvings
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 doesnt
deny it. As [Holocaust] survivors die off and there are fewer and
fewer eyewitnesses, she has explained tearfully, there
wont be people to tell the story in the first person, and it will be
easier to deny it.
statement calls in question Mrs. Lipstadts 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
Hitlers War and elsewhere, the whole thing was
conducted behind Hitlers 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
lifes 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, its 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 didnt 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 cant 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 its 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 doesnt 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 its 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
David Irvings ruin should tell
us where the real danger to freedom now lies.
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