The imprisoned Nazi and historian David Irving is
not some one who revises history in the light of
new material. He is a falsifier of history. He brings
to historical narrative what a fascist skinhead
thug brings to inter-race community relations. He
is a holocaust denier. He challenged Deborah Lipstadt
in court on the grounds that the accusation of holocaust
denial she had flung his way stained his character.
Lipstadt destroyed him. From that point on his credentials
as a provider of alternative history has been in
tatters. Those who have since gone to hear him have
mental faculties as perversely impaired as his own.
proving in public forum that Irving was a holocaust
denier was an important move in deconstructing the
character of Irving and the integrity of his work.
Austria jailing him for being a holocaust denier
is a step too far. He should be allowed to deny
the holocaust. It is in his denials of the holocaust
that the atrocious event becomes even more real
in our minds. The more a feverish liar distorts
in order to dispute the more we are reminded of
the lies used during the holocaust to prevent its
existence getting out, and the lies used since to
minimise its diabolical significance.
Irving should never have seen the inside of a prison
cell. In fact the Austrian authorities could have
considered providing him with a license to run a
travelling circus and allow him to take it to wherever
he wants. Grant him full freedom to travel Austria
widely spouting his 1989 views for which he now
lies in jail; that Hitler knew little about the
'so-called' holocaust, that the Auschwitz gas chambers
never existed, and that the Nazis were blameless
for Kristallnacht. People then could see the Nazi
clown in his ridiculous splendour. Jailing him is
the equivalent of burning his almost thirty books.
to rubbish the vile views of Irving is an admirable
practice. Seeking to silence them is dangerous.
It privileges one kind of free speech over another.
It is corrosive of democratic culture which if it
is to retain any vibrancy must be able to cope with
the weeds that by necessity will always grow within
the garden of democracy otherwise it is not democracy
at all. It becomes managed, tutored, castrated,
is not Jewish people who will revel in the jailing
of Irving, but those who value his imprisonment
because it curbs the very free speech that is so
necessary for people to stand up and say again and
again that the holocaust did happen. Individuals
may, but society should never wish to arm itself
with the totalitarian certainty that brooks no dissent
and makes holocausts a thing of the future rather
then the past where they belong.